Education Policy & Practice

Archive for the ‘Black males’ Category

What memories do you have of your pre-college experiences on a college campus and how do you think that helped shape your attitude toward and perception of college? [tweetmeme=”wordpress”]

Here are a few of my memories.  Frankly, I thought college was cool.

  • My earliest memory is from elementary school.  I participated in a summer arts enrichment program at Towson University.  The program was only for a few hours in the morning, for the duration of a few weeks.  I remember the cookies and juice that they served us for snacks.  I remember reading Rudyard Kipling.  I remember the sculpture class.  I don’t remember any of the people, however.
  • Another memory is of spending at least a part of a summer or two at an overnight basketball camp. I was probably a young teenager at that time. I remember my fascination with the concept of dormitory living, shared bathrooms, and the cafeteria.  I liked it.
  • My older cousin was a standout basketball player at Morgan State University, which is only a mile from where I grew up.  She invited me to spend the night on campus after attending one of her games.  I was excited, because at that time I was a varsity starter at my high school and was in awe of the real-ness of being a college basketball player.  And to boot, I would get to spend the night in a real college dorm with real college kids.

I recently asked my 15-year old cousin, “Have you ever spent any time on a college campus?”  He has not had any meaningful experience in a college setting.  To be fair, he has attended several college graduations at such institution as Duke University, Trinity College (Hartford, CT), the United States Naval Academy.

He then said something that I didn’t anticipate hearing.  After telling him that I wanted him to spend time on a college campus this summer, he quickly said that he didn’t want to do that because college campuses are so big.  Then I knew for sure that I had to get him on a college campus and help him to feel “comfortable.”  I believe that there is a college size and setting for everyone, and I want to help him find one.

I encourage you to speak to as many young people you know about college.

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Yesterday, I submitted a blog post that highlighted Shane Battier and Myron Rolle, two standout African-American male scholar athletes from Duke University and Florida State University respectively. These young men highlighted their personal stories through their “I Am What I Learn” videos, publicized on the U.S. Department of Education website.

Sadly, the other reality, which I fear is significantly more common, is the academic deficit our African-American male athlete suffer.  The Grio reports the findings of a study that shows graduation rates widening between blacks and whites in college football.  According to the report, which was released on Monday by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida:

Overall academic progress continued while the gap between white and African-American football student-athletes increased slightly for the 67 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools (formerly known as Division I-A schools) playing in this year’s college football bowl games.

Troubling figures in the study that show an increase in the disparity include:

  • 57 schools (up from 56 in 2008‐09) or 85 percent had graduation success rates of 66 percent or higher for white football student‐athletes, which was more than 2.8 times the number of schools with equivalent graduation success rates for African‐American football student‐athletes (20 schools or 30 percent).
  • 21 schools (up from 19 in 2008‐09) or 31 percent graduated less than 50 percent of their African‐American football student‐athletes, while only two schools graduated less than 50 percent of their white football student‐athletes.
  • Seven schools (up from five schools in 2008‐09) or 10 percent graduated less than 40 percent of their African‐American football student‐athletes, while no school graduated less than 40 percent of their white football student‐athletes.
  • 14 schools (up from 12 schools in 2008‐09) or 21 percent had graduation success rates for African‐American football student‐athletes that were at least 30 percent lower than their rates for white football student‐athletes.
  • 35 schools (up from 29 schools in 2008‐09) or 52 percent had graduation success rates for African‐American football student‐athletes that were at least 20 percent lower than their rates for white football student‐athletes

Colleges and Universities are held accountable for the success of student-athletes in the classroom, as well as their progression towards graduation.  While I agree with holding their feet to the fire, the problem of chronic and severe underperformance among minority student-athletes starts long before they step foot on a college campus.

Read the full report:

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Shane Battier, Duke basketball standout now in his 9th season with the Houston Rockets: “People looked at me and didn’t give me a chance to be a good student.” (1:50)

Myron Rolle, a “true student athlete.” 

Athletes Highlight Education as Key to Their Success

Shane Battier of the Houston Rockets [and Duke Class of 2001] and Myron Rolle, former Florida State football player and current Rhodes Scholar, share their personal stories to encourage students to take responsibility for their education.

Shane Battier, a classmate of mine from Duke, has always been academically-focused.  Myron Rolle, chose to defer the NFL for one year to study medical anthropology at Oxford.

Two young, successful African American males.  It pleases me to see this story planted on the U.S. Department of Education website.  But I’m a 30 y/o education researcher/evaluator with nerd-like tendencies – of course I’m going to see that story because visiting ed.gov is something that I do for fun.

Is my 9th-grade cousin, who is quite academically capable, but who has also announced his dream to aspire to become a professional athlete, going to see this?  Yes, in fact, he will!! He will because this blog post will be imported to my facebook page, and I will tag him in that note.

Great.  But he’s just one.  It is incumbent upon us [if you are reading this, then you are included in the “us” to which I am referring] to push these stories down to where the younger generation will be exposed to them.

I feel a surge of passion coming on here! I believe that the current generation of K-12 students must not be studied, talked about, or used as pawns, but rather they should be ENGAGED.   We need to bridge this gap.

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Derrion Albert

Embedded video from CNN Video

This story hurts me to the core, and it should penetrate the heart of every person who comes in contact with this tragedy. When a child does not make it home safely to his or her family, we fail. When the sparkle in a child’s eye has been extinguished, we fail. When a child is too afraid to go to the police, we fail. When a mother’s pain is a news headline, we fail. It is futile to assign individual blame here – we all fail. We have a serious set of problems to solve, and Chicago is just a popularized example of what undoubtedly occurs in countless communities across the country.

Chicago Public Schools chief proposes a controversial strategy, funded by federal stimulus dollars, to target 10,000 of Chicago’s most vulnerable and at-risk students to receive 24-hour mentoring. I appreciate the enormity of the set of circumstances ailing the City of Chicago and the Chicago Public Schools; however, I am not hopeful that this reaction (not solution) will be effective. First, this program does not address the root causes that create the conditions that facilitate the erosion of our families and communities. Second, that the children are the target of this intervention, we send the wrong message loud and clear that the child is the problem, when clearly s/he represents a manifestation of the problem. Third, while the program may yield positive benefit, it is hardly sustainable. It is impossible to sustain a program with an operating budget in the tens of millions (the level of funding expected from the feds). So the obvious question is: “What happens when the money runs out?”

It is literally impossible for me to imagine what it is like to fear for my safety, my life, traveling back and forth to school each day. I’ve never lost a friend or classmate to violence. I simply cannot put myself in those shoes. And yes, we expect students to come to class cheerful, or at least without an attitude or distraction, ready to learn.

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Education Policy & Practice

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