By Katherine Leal Unmuth
Education reporters often are drawn to reporting the depressing headlines about the state of Latino and black students in our nation’s public schools.
These stories often focus on high school dropouts, low test scores and unstable home lives. But we must remember that lessons can also be drawn from minority students who are success stories. And we must realize how damaging it can be to portray black and Latino students in an almost hopeless, and fatalistic, light.
That’s the message one can take away from a new study, “Succeeding in the City: A Report from the New York City Black and Latino Male High School Achievement Study.” The report was released by the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education at the University of Pennsylvania, and led by professor Shaun Harper.
I served on a panel with Harper at the 2012 Education Writers Association national seminar, where the theme was “Looking at Patterns of Success, Not Failure, in Communities of Color.” Harper passionately spoke then about the importance of telling more positive stories.
Harper even opens his report by revealing what drives his research, writing, “I begin with a plea to the nation: please stop mischaracterizing young men of color as hopeless thugs who care nothing about their education, communities and futures. Ways in which black and Latino male teens, especially those who reside in America’s largest cities, are persistently portrayed in media and elsewhere negatively affect society’s expectations of them and, at times, their expectations of themselves.”
Harper, who is African American himself, made this perspective clear in the study. He sought out principals of New York City high schools, asking them to identify successful black and Latino male students. They had to have at least a 3.0 grade point average, taken college prep classes, be involved on their campus in numerous activities, and motivated toward enrolling in college. Harper and his team eventually interviewed 325 young men who were high school juniors and seniors at 40 schools.
Of the high school students surveyed, about 41 percent were Latino, 54 percent black, and 5 percent biracial. About 25 percent were born outside of the United States. About 51 percent were from single-parent homes. About 25 percent were low income and 51 percent working class. About 76 percent of their fathers and 66 percent of their mothers had no college degree
To read full story: http://latinalista.com/2013/10/researcher-examines-factors-that-lead-to-latino-and-black-male-high-school-success
By Katherine Leal Unmuth
Arts and Culture
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