Category Archives: Latino Males

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Parents: As the School Year Begins…

New school year excitement is in the air! The school year is beginning and your little ones (or not so little ones) are headed back to school for a new academic year.  Here are just a few things to consider as you prepare your kids for success in the coming year:

  • Be sure your children know that you believe in them. Do not take it for granted that they know that you believe they are fully capable of doing well in the classroom. Children need to hear regularly that you believe they are capable of achieving at high levels. Children (and even adults) need that reassurance. Further, African American and Latino children, especially boys, will likely interact daily with teachers, administrators, and/or peers that do not believe they are capable of learning at high levels. Understanding that they will likely have regular contact with adults who do not have the same high expectations for them that you do, go above and beyond the call of duty to make sure your children know that you believe in them and that your expectation is that they will achieve academic success.
  • Engage your children’s teacher(s) as soon as possible. Let them know that you are ready and willing to partner with them throughout the school year. Inform them of the best ways to communicate with you and let them know that you want to have a two-way line of communication. Keep the lines of communication open throughout the year, regardless of whether there is a problem. Don’t wait for problems. Open lines of communication and partnership/collaboration with teachers will often prevent problems from occurring.
  • Identify advocates for your children at their school. Every child should have at least one adult advocate in the school. An advocate is someone who is personally interested and invested in the welfare and success of your child; someone who will advocate on his/her behalf. Every child should have at least one advocate in the school building and you should know who that person is. If your child does not have at least one adult advocate in the building, start working to find one today!
  • Set clear and measurable goals for the academic year with your children. Write them down and revisit them periodically. Engage them in conversation about academic goals and sit down with them now at the start of the year to make clear what your expectations are for them this year/semester/quarter. Then set a timeline for periodic monitoring of how they are progressing toward the achievement of those goals. Don’t wait for the first report cards; know how they are progressing as they move through the reporting period. Many school districts now make students’ progress in each class available online. If you are not sure about how to access this information, contact your child’s teacher ASAP. You don’t want to wait until there is a problem. Monitoring their progress along the way may prevent problems from ever occurring.

Best wishes for a safe, happy, healthy, and successful academic year!

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So-Called “Gap Students”: Reframing Adults’ Conversations About Children of Color

I get more and more irritated every time I hear an educator use the term gap students. Educators now routinely use that term to refer to subgroups of students whose test scores are significantly  below those of their White middle-class, online non-disabled peers. The gap they refer to is the achievement gap between White students and other students. I know very well-meaning educators who regularly use the term and do so without any malicious intent. But the use of the term is derogatory, insulting, and dangerous for how educators think about children of color, children from low-income families, and children with disabilities. Additionally, use of the term gap students absolves schools and educators (at least in their thinking) from any culpability in creating the achievement gaps that they are referencing.

Use of the term gap students implies that there is something wrong with the children being referenced, some inherent deficit that exists with them; an implication which is false. The reasons for the achievement gaps that we see in schools are numerous and highly complex. We can discuss and debate those factors all day long, but we should never allow our thinking or language to insinuate that the blame for achievement gaps rests solely or even primarily with the children whose achievement scores are below the level we would like them to be. So-called gap children are the victims in all of this; victims of historical, societal, familial, community, and yes, school conditions that have created and perpetuate racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps.

So instead of referring to children as gap students, maybe we should refer to their teachers as gap teachers, their schools as gap schools, their school leaders as gap principals and gap superintendents. How about we call the state commissioner or superintendent a gap commissioner. Let’s see how much they like that. There is plenty enough blame to go around for the shameful achievement gaps that we now have. Instead of insulting and degrading our children by labeling them as gap students, let’s own up to our failures as adults and change our behavior and practice to better meet our children’s needs.

The Case for a Black & Latino Male Success Initiative at the University of Kentucky

The University System of Georgia’s (USG) 2002 study of factors related to the challenges its campuses faced with the enrollment retention, cialis and graduation of African American male students revealed that: (a) African American males students felt isolated and alienated on their campuses; (b)  most schools had failed to engage African American males students, viagra both inside and outside of classrooms; and (c) African-American male students longed for the ability to talk to faculty, staff, and peers on their campuses that could related to their racial and gender experiences. Based on those findings the USG invested in pilot programs targeting African American male students at the middle school, high school, and higher education levels across the state, with the explicit goals of increasing the recruitment, retention, and graduation rates of African-American male students within the system. USG’s Initiative is a testament to the resolve of its leaders to intentionally and strategically do something about the troubling statistics associated with African American male students’ experiences on its campuses.

The commonwealth of Kentucky is different than Georgia in a few significant ways. First, Georgia is a much larger and much more racially diverse state than Kentucky. At the time of the 2010 U.S. Census, Georgia boasted a state population of 9,687,653 residents, which was an 18% increase over the state’s population at the 2000 U.S. Census. In 2010, 59.7% of Georgia’s residents identified themselves as White, 30.5% as Black or African American, 0.3% as American Indian and Alaskan Native, 3.2% as Asian, 0.1% as Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 4% as some other race, 2.1% as two or more races, and 8.8% as Hispanic or Latino of any race. Kentucky, however, is only about half the size of Georgia in terms of population and is significantly less diverse. In 2010, Kentucky had a state population of 4,339,367 residents. Kentucky is also one of the Whitest states in the U.S. In 2010, 86.3% of residents identified themselves as White, 7.8% as Black or African American, 1.1% as Asian, 0.2% as American Indian and Alaskan Native, 0.1% as Pacific Islander, and 3.1% as Hispanic or Latino of any race.

Given the differences in number of state residents and the differences in racial/ethnic composition of the states, one would expect to see differences in student enrollment patterns between higher education institutions in Georgia and Kentucky, and those differences are in fact there. In raw numbers, UK enrolls fewer male students of color than comparable institutions in the University System of Georgia. The University of Kentucky’s Black male enrollment (and Black female enrollment) in bachelors’ degree program has, however, been relatively stagnant since the 2008-2009 academic year. Total undergraduate enrollment at the University of Kentucky for the 2012-2013 academic year is 20,878 students.  Black students account for approximately 7.5% of the undergraduate student enrollment at the University. Black male undergraduate students account for just under 46% of the University’s total Black undergraduate enrollment. Hispanic or Latino students comprise about 2.7% of the University’s enrollment, and Hispanic or Latino males account for just over 47% of the University’s total Hispanic or Latino student population.  But overall, African American and Hispanic or Latino male student enrollment at UK comes pretty close to mirroring the racial and ethnic profile of the state.

Outside of enrollment, however, the University of Kentucky faces many of the same challenges that USG institutions faced in 2002; namely, retention, achievement, and graduation rates for undergraduate male students of color, particularly Black male students. University of Kentucky Institutional Research data show clearly that achievement (GPA), retention, and graduation rates for Black male undergraduate students fall significantly behind those fore Black females, Hispanic or Latino students, White males, and White females. Even as much work remains to be done with improving the University graduation rate for all students, the graduation rate for Black male students at UK shamefully falls significantly below that of any other subgroup of students. The six-year graduation rate for the 2006 cohort of Hispanic or Latino first-year, first-time students at UK was 52.6%; for Black female students it was 54.7%; for Black male students it was 42.6%; for White female students it was 60.8%; and for White male students it was 55.5%. Strongly related to graduation rates, the first fall to fourth fall retention rates for Black male students are abysmal. For the 2009 cohort, the first fall to fourth fall retention rate for first-time, first-year Black male students was 45.6%; for Black female students it was 53.1%; for White male students it was 65.5%; and for White female students it was 70.1%. Also related, academic achievement for Black male students at UK falls significantly below the achievement of other subgroups of students. The first year UK GPA for Black male students for the 2011 cohort of first-year, first-time freshmen was 2.25; for Black female students it was 2.56; for White males it was 2.79; and for White female students it was 3.09. 

Further, many of the findings of USG’s study of Black male students hold true for Black male undergraduates at the University of Kentucky. Exploratory research conducted in 2009 by the University Office for Institutional Diversity indicated that Black male students at UK also experience feelings of isolation and alienation, and that the University campus can be a hostile place for them. Institutional research data and exploratory research findings make it pretty clear that if the University desires to improve the quality of experience for Black male undergraduate students and in-turn improve retention and graduation rates, intentional and strategic interventions must be put into place. The University of Kentucky has both the talent and resources to improve educational outcomes for its Black male students. It is my sincere hope that the University leadership make a decision to build and support an Initiative aimed at supporting the success of male students  of color.

 

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Educational Attainment for Black & Latino Males Remains Alarmingly Low

The Schott Foundation’s 2012 report, case The Urgency of Now, shows that high school graduation rates for Black male students remain significantly lower than for any other group of students. Since 2004 the foundation’s reports have shown that Black male students are significantly less likely than any other group of students to earn a high school diploma. This year’s report shows that only 52% of Black males and 58% of Latino males graduate from high school in four years, compared to 78% of White, non-Latino males who graduate high school in four years.

These numbers show clearly that now is not the time to pull back our efforts. These numbers further illustrate the continued need to reject proposals for policy and/or practice that fail to take racial inequity into account. Differences in the socioeconomic circumstances of families surely impact educational outcomes, but socioeconomic differences fall far short of explaining persistent differences in the educational outcomes of Black and Latino male students. Race and gender do still matter.

You can access the Schott Foundation’s full report, The Urgency of Now, here.

Group Calls for Moratorium on Out-of-School Suspensions

SOLUTIONS NOT SUSPENSIONS, prostate a self-described “grassroots initiative of students, cialis educators, viagra parents, and community leaders, has called for a national moratorium on out-of-school suspensions. The group calls on states and districts to support teachers and schools in dealing with disciplinary infractions “in positive ways–keeping students in the classroom and helping educators work with students and parents to create safe and engaging classrooms that protect the human rights to education and dignity.” The group cites research showing that Black and Latino students and students with disabilities have been grossly disproportionately affected suspensions and expulsions; meaning disproportionate numbers of these students miss critical classroom instructional time,

I completely support this group’s efforts to replace out-of-school suspensions with positive alternatives. The disproportionate rates of suspension and expulsion for Black and Latino students, Black and Latino male students in particular, are nothing short of shameful. This group’s identification of the problem as a human rights issue is correct; this disproportionate treatment of Black and Latino children does in fact rise to the mark of being a human rights concern. Second, as an education concern, having disproportionate numbers of Black and Latino students unfairly kept out of their classrooms makes eliminating achievement gaps between them and white students and decreasing high school dropouts among these groups of students highly improbable.

But all hope is not lost. This is a problem that we can and we will address together; we must for the sake of our children.

For additional information on SOLUTIONS NOT SUSPENSION, please see: http://stopsuspensions.org/