Are schools meeting the needs of African American males?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by FourSquare, Jul 18, 2010.

  1. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Jul 18, 2010

    Hello, all.

    Just curious on how you feel about this question. I'm immersed in a research paper for grad school about teacher and parent perceptions of African American male students and how that plays into their academic success. I've found dozens of studies which all indicate that this is the demographic most likely to track into special ed, receive discipline, be held to lower standards, etc. One study even suggested that black parents lowered expectations for their sons after Kindergarten while maintaining them for their daughters! :huh: There seems to be a lot of lacking social-emotional skills that contribute to unacceptable behavior in the classroom. How do you handle this? Whose responsibility is it to teach these skills?

    I'm finishing up the paper now, so don't worry about you doing my homework. :lol: I just thought this was very interesting and wanted to hear what other teachers had to say.
     
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  3. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    We were told, basically, to not bother recommending special education testing and services for African American males because we have too many in our district as is. It will "look" bad. Never mind the poor student's needs who just happened to be an African American male. Sucks to be him, I guess. :eek:

    But to answer your question...my immediate response is no, schools are not meeting the needs of African American males. But the true problem begins before the child even steps foot into the school.
     
  4. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Well, we don't really have an African American population. I've been teaching for 17 years, and I've had 5 girls. They were sisters. All are athletic, and all worked hard. One received special education services for a reading disability. I have had four boys. Two were brothers (cousins to the girls) and the other two were not related. Only one of the boys qualified for special education services and was a severe behavior issue. The others struggled in some areas, but were not low enough for special services.

    The mother of the brothers came to school once to let us know that the only reason her son was in trouble was because he was black. The principal reminded her that her other son was black, too, and he'd never set foot in the office in the three years he'd been in our building.
     
  5. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    IMO there may be better questions:

    -Do our schools meet the learning needs and styles of boys - all boys? IMO, no!

    -Is society meeting the needs of African American boys?

    -Are families meeting their needs?

    -Are we meeting the needs of the average, compliant children who IMO are being neglected due to the perceived needs of the
    children on opposite ends of the spectrum?

    -As a society are we supporting and valuing education?

    Oh....better not get us started.
     
  6. teach2read10

    teach2read10 Companion

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    Not much experience

    I think you pose an important question for society at large. We don't have a large African American population so the results in my district probably don't mean much. We have a growing Hispanic population so I'll be curious to see how those children do in school.
     
  7. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I think the question being faced in my district is ...Are we meeting the needs of all of our children living in poverty?
     
  8. Loves the beach

    Loves the beach Companion

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    Well said. Or should I say well asked.
     
  9. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    I agree 100% that there are broader questions and complex answers to these questions, but I had to fit into the frame of an 8-10 page paper. :lol: So I looked for patterns in the research on urban education. Almost everything noted that African American boys in particular were on the bottom. Incarceration rates, drug use, unemployment, health issues...the list goes on. Operating under the assumption that schools are supposed to prepare kids for success in society, I wanted to take a look at the correlation between failure in life and failure in school, and sure enough they were on the bottom of school measurements as well. (test scores, office referrals, expulsions, special education, etc.)

    It boils down to many of the decisions made in early school having a huge effect on where kids are later in life. (IE: Most of the kids tracked into sped never come out and have lower rates of college attendance and therefore economic struggles, etc.) It made me think about retention and sped referrals based on behavior. Many of the "problems" in my school last year were black and male. I'm wondering if being a middle class white teacher played a bigger role than I thought in how I related culturally with black male students.

    One study I read did a focus group with fifteen white women in which they admitted fearing their black male students and immediately thinking they weren't going to do well. Even if this is subconscious, it can really change instruction. They also interviewed a panel of black male students which showed equally negative assumptions about teachers.

    Inneresting! No?
     
  10. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Have you looked into results from alternative inner-city schools? I can't remember the names of a couple of them that I have seen profiled on tv.

    I worked in private school and the African American boys' families were of no different 'status' in life than any of the other boys' families.
     
  11. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Yes, there are good schools which have high expectations and accept no excuses.

    What is interesting/horrifying is studies that show even African American children from families of professional, college educated, upper income parents still post lower test scores than their white or Asian counterparts from the same socio-economic situation.
     
  12. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Yes, I was aware of these studies. Interesting? Absolutely! Scary? Yup!

    Back on the subject of boys - that is one reason why I hate young boys being labeled as ADHD or whatever too early in life when they are just being rowdy, active, boys who have a hard time sitting still. Yes, some children do need help - on the other hand - some parents and educators need help learning how to manage active boys without slapping them with a disorder for the rest of their lives.
     
  13. funshine2381

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    It has everything to do with the home life of that student. I have a few, black males in my classes who are well behaved and make higher grades than some of the white students. On the other hand, I've had several black males that have been expelled, sent to jail, threw a pen cap at my face....I could go on. My principal does not have high expectations for their behavior because I honestly think that he is afraid of them. The parents or relatives will come into the office, screaming and threatening him.
     
  14. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    A far more interesting study, which was done in the early 90's, was when they gave a "standardized test" that as skewed toward the minority experience as the then typical standardized tests were skewed to the white experience. The results nearly reversed themselves. A small percentage of white students scored as well as they did on typical tests, and a small percentage of black students scored as badly as they did on the typical test, but for the most part, minority score increased dramatically while white scores decreased substantially.

    This particular study was the impetus for creating test questions that were more "balanced", though we still have a long way to go.
     
  15. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Jul 18, 2010

    I taught all-male classes two years ago.

    When we gender grouped in math and reading, the girls made gains in math and the boys made gains in reading.
     
  16. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Good question!

    I'm in a college prep Catholic High school, so I honestly have no idea. ALL our kids are expected, by us and by their parents, to succeed academically and attend college.

    I've never picked up on any difference in the demographic between, say, an honors class and a regular (or "low" but still college prep) class.
     
  17. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I've also taught one-gender classes but nothing remarkable in either direction came of it.

    I'm unsure if this can possibly come across as anything but offensive to some, so I'm obviously hesitant to share, but I think I'm actually a good teacher for a struggling African American male to have. Though I'm a white female, I somehow connect with the difficulties many in this population are facing. I'm such a cheerleader for them but not in an annoying, sugary-sweet way, and not quite in a mothering way either...Hmm, I guess it's in a teachery way! Imagine that! :p
     
  18. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I teach in a high academic demand district/county. My school is in a high SES community. We have no 'lower' standards in relation to gender or race. We differentiate instruction, meet student needs and raise the bar for all learners.
     
  19. Beverly

    Beverly Comrade

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    I'd be interested in reading about HOW they skewed the test toward minority experience. I don't doubt the effectiveness, but I'm just wondering what types of changes were made.
     
  20. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Beverly...its as simple as changing the reading passages and math story problems to something more aligned to the the experiences of minority populations.

    For example, instead of talking about driving a car or mortgages, you talk about bus routes and rent (for low SES areas). Or reading about Harriet Beecher Stowe instead of Thomas Jefferson.
     
  21. Beverly

    Beverly Comrade

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    Thanks :)
     
  22. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    WOW. Do you remember what that was called? That's fascinating to me, and I'd love to share it with my teacher friends.
     
  23. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I'll see if I can find it. I read about it when I was writing my own articles at my college position.
     
  24. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    I work in a high-poverty, high minority, high immigrant area. I've worked in two two schools within the district.

    The first was in a middle class neighborhood. Students were not held to high standards because the "white" teachers did not understand the "black" home life. We couldn't expect "them" to learn because they were just going to end up selling drugs for a living, anyhow.

    I don't work there anymore.

    My current school is smack dab in the middle of the ghetto, where drugs, shootings, and AIDS are a daily part of many of my students' lives. It's a magnet school where parents are encouraged to put their kids on the wait list at birth. We have high standards for all students, regardless of color, nationality, and family income. We also know that our African-American males are the lowest scoring group within our school - which is why we provide tutoring after school, hire positive role models for them, and bring in community leaders to help inspire them.

    In short - it all depends on your school.
     
  25. Miss84

    Miss84 Comrade

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    I teach in a pre-dominately Black school and my male students seem to be favored over the girls by admin, and the majority of the male students in our school have test scores that averaged higher than their female counterparts.
    But having the opportunity to work in a public school a few years ago, I have witnessed where the schools have let their Black male students fall through the cracks, which is very sad to me because we need our boys to succeed academically.
     
  26. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    My favorite line, as in least favorite, was when an administrator told us to essentially expect no improvements in behavior from African American students because it was "their culture". Nice. Especially coming from a man of color.
     
  27. Bumble

    Bumble Groupie

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    This past year I had 19 African American boys and 5 girls. From my experience, I feel as if it is BOTH the schools' and families' fault. For an example, some of my 4th grade boys were expected to take care of their younger siblings more than the girls in my class. The schools don't do anything about parents like this. Our boys have too much emotional baggage. Also, a lot of AA boys don't have any male figures in their lives. Without a positive male in their lives they are confused in a way. Just put yourself in their shoes. Imagine having a mother who works 2 jobs and your dad isn't around. You have to take care of your siblings. Forget about learning because you are stressed at the age of 10. IMO this is how we create criminals. Some AA boys never get rid of the emotional baggage so they turn to gangs for acceptance.

    How can we deny children special education services if there is a need? IMO we need more males to go into education and teach at urban schools. My students really respected me, but I had a few students who would have done better if they had a male teacher. We need more male volunteers to mentor our AA boys.

    It saddens me that some of my boys are watching their siblings instead of enjoying their summer like other children their age. :(
     
  28. BCPMWK

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    Our school is relatively balanced racially (55% w, 40% aa, and 5% other). I'm not sure if there are more AA males in sped, but I do know that they have more disciplinary problems than other male students. That being said, these young men are not always the ones in trouble for big infractions (fighting, drugs). It seems like the AA boys are in trouble more often for lack of respect, failure to follow dress code, and the like. Not that they're never doing drugs or fighting, but white boys fight or get caught with pot just as often. I do think some teachers are more suspicious of black males which really confuses me. I've never really been frightened by any of my students. Anyway, I don't believe that we are really meeting the needs of the African American male or female in many cases. I must also say that I've also had more trouble contacting these parents, they rarely attend any school open-houses, and fail to update contact information which makes teacher-parent-student disciplinary discussion difficult. This leads to referrals to the administration because it is hard to find a way to communicate with the parents. I think if the parents put more emphasis on the importance of school some of the boys would do much better. About the "culture" comment, I do see that many groups of AA males at our school find any scholarly behavior unattractive. Unless the boys are in honors classes, it is rare for them to participate without a fuss. Mostly, the fuss is just to look cool, and they do the work anyway, but some boys just will not believe that their buddy who complains all the time and "acts a fool" is actually completing all the work for the class.
     
  29. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    It's completely unacceptable to accept poor behavior from African Americans and chalk it up to their culture. And so very insulting.
     
  30. BCPMWK

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    I didn't mean to be offensive. The boys in question are 14. To me the idea that school success is not cool is actually peer related not racially related, but it can be easily misconstrued to be one and the same. The majority of 14 year old boys want to be cool at all costs, regardless if it means repeating 9th grade. My gang members will tell me straight up that they will "get beat" if they say they need to do school work instead of hanging out with their group. This leaves very few options for my boys who want the approval of their peers more than anything else. I try very hard to make time for these boys to complete my work in class, so they won't fail, but some refuse to do that either. Sad.
     
  31. maya5250

    maya5250 Comrade

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    BCPMWK, I agree that it can be peer related. It can also be racially related. Growing up, I had people (some of my past high school and middle school classmates and some adults) tell me that I was acting "white" because I took AP classes and didn't talk slang all the time. If I didn't have the support of my good friends and teachers as role models, I would probably would have felt really bad not fitting in with some of peers. There is even a nickname for it - "oreo". I believe that all students need role models that they can relate to and be held to high expectations.
     
  32. BCPMWK

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    Maya, I see that happen to many of my AP kids too. It really is a difficult time for many of them who don't have parental or peer support. I've also heard some students refer to another as "white" or trying to act smart like a "white boy." This brings on a giant butt chewing from me! I almost always have one or two classes with "underachievers" (one) because those students like me and I like them (two) I don't write up a student every time he/she does something little, so the admin puts some very difficult students in with me. The inequality is truly one of the toughest parts of education. Maturity helps many of the boys (of all races) but it is still a tremendously difficult situation. I' always happy to see many of these boys change (attitude) as they mature throughout high school, but they've already missed out on quite a few opportunities.
     
  33. Joyful!

    Joyful! Habitué

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    Has anyone read Richard Whitmire's Why Boys Fail, Saving our Sons from an Educational System that's Leaving them Behind? It talks about the gender gap. Very interesting read. It might help the OP in research.
     
  34. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    No. No more research. :yawn: I don't want to look at that paper ever again! :p I was just gathering responses for fun. As of yesterday it is turned in and done with.

    As far as "acting white," I found in that previously mentioned research panel with AA boys that they felt like there was some sort of "secret learning" going on with white kids. They were dead serious. They felt 100% that teachers were instructing them differently and that their schools were inferior. This is why they felt a lack of motivation and attributed academic success to white students. There is also some truth to the idea of culture influencing school success. Their parents had negative experiences in school and turned around to dump those experiences on their children. The boys said their parents encouraged them to not trust authority, fight back if someone tries to fight them, and demand respect. These are all behaviors contradictory to what's expected of you in school. :reading:
     
  35. Joyful!

    Joyful! Habitué

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    You still might enjoy the book for your own knowledge's sake. :) Congrats on finishing your project.
     
  36. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Haha, thanks. And yes, I would like to read the book for pleasure. (People still do that once they're out of grad school, right?) I've noted it on Amazon.
     
  37. chemteach55

    chemteach55 Connoisseur

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    ASCD also has a book out right now about African-American males in the classroom.
     

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