Schooling Students Placed at Risk: Research, Policy, and Practice in the Education of Poor and Minority Adolescents

By Mavis G. Sanders | Go to book overview

10
Creating a Climate for Diversity? The Institutional Response of Predominantly White Independent Schools to African-American Students

AMANDA DATNOW
ROBERT COOPER
Johns Hopkins University

This chapter analyzes the institutional response of predominantly White, elite independent schools to African-American students. Using qualitative data collected in nine independent schools in Baltimore, this chapter shows that although these independent schools are making symbolic commitments to racial diversity, they vary in the degree to which they operationalize those commitments. The schools' climates for racial diversity impact African-American students' educational experiences, as students internalize the messages that are conveyed to them by the schools. This chapter illuminates the structures and cultures that exist within elite private schools, and suggests ways in which such schools can promote the success of AfricanAmerican students.

Since the 1960s, African-American1 students have been enrolling in predominantly White, elite independent schools in increasing numbers. Much of the increase in enrollment can be attributed to the efforts of a number of organizations, including A Better Chance, Prep for Prep, Black Student Fund, and the Baltimore Educational Scholarship Trust (BEST), that have initiated and maintained the presence and participation of AfricanAmerican students in these schools known to prepare students for positions

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1
In this chapter, we alternate between the terms African-American and Black. This is because students in our study used both terms in referring to themselves.

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