Education Policy & Practice


Posted on: September 13, 2008

This is my first “Dialogue” post.

I realized that I often engage in education-related conversations. I know that others do, too, and I wonder what they talk about. What issues are raised? What solutions are posed? What frustrations are expressed? I’ve decided to make an effort to share my dialogues with you. Since we are in the age of instant messaging, I will sometimes be able to share actual conversations, as I do in this post. My friend and I are 20-something, minority, education researchers who earned master’s degrees and will earn doctorates one day. We easily keep in touch through instant messaging and often jump from topic to topic. Here’s a short exchange with personal relevance.

Friend: Did you know that the percentage of African-American principal investigators of research project grants has never topped 2%??

Me: No … tell me more

Friend: Thats all I know. It is NIH data; the numbers were between 1.3% and 1.8% from 2000 to 2006and apparently the numbers are a little better for Hispanics but aren’t getting much better.

Me: So what’s the cause? Not enough minority education researchers? (Didn’t we talk about this with Jan?) Not enough, ahem, minority Ph.Ds? Yep, I did talk to Jan about this; that’s part of the reason why she told me to get my butt back in school.

Friend: Not enough minority PhDs. LOL. You better. And it’s projected that by 2030, that 1/3 of the workforce will be people of color. And we are slacking.

Me: You’re right, that’s depressing.

Friend: Oh, and according to this article, students’ SES and lack of wealth often prevent minorities from getting doctoral degrees since its a long process and many minority students find it necessary to obtain employment to support themselves and their families.

Me: So true.

1 Response to "Dialogue"


I find the subject of this discussion with your friend significant and one I hope continues. The need for advanced degrees among people of color is very important. As one of those person’s of color with an advanced degree and soon to complete a doctorate, I can’t echo your sentiment enough. There needs to be more open discussion among people of color about the need for our representation within all professions, especially research.

In my short 15 years of professional exprience, I’ve been detailed as a support person to a number of research projects, initiatives, and programs directed towards “people of color”, (politically referred to as “urban”, “inner-city”, or “at risk”). I don’t recall any that operated with a single principal officer of color.

Why is there such a small number of person’s of color who are principal researchers? While there are truly a large number of answers to this question, I contend that the majority of them share a common root….the American experience.

I don’t mean to allude that people of color are being “held down by the man”. However, in some cases I know that to be the case. Consider Dr. Carter G Woodson’s book, The MisEducation of the Negro. Dr. Woodson made it clear that the reason for the state and perpetual motion of African American’s is due to the control of information and mis-information delivered to people of color. He warned us what we would see because of it . And what do we TODAY?

Dr. Woodson is just one example a principal researcher, whose work is not accepted, whose work is not given authority, and in whom WE don’t demonstrate our support or belief.

That’s all I have to say about that.

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Education Policy & Practice

September 2008

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