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Pushy parents the best boost for black boys
Atlanta Journal-Constitution ^ | May 26, 2003 | Cynthia Tucker

Posted on 05/27/2003 12:54:46 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife

Quick: Before all that remains of young black men on campus is the fossil evidence, let's get busy. Georgia's educational bureaucracy has finally discerned this disturbing trend and vowed to reverse it. It's about time. But this is a national phenomenon that the bureaucrats can't address on their own. It demands a broad response.

Young black men are in trouble. They are dropping out of high school, fathering children out of wedlock, falling into lives of drug abuse and crime. Getting them back on track will require not only intense outreach from university counselors and high school teachers but also determined efforts by black parents, black churches and community organizations.

Many black teenage boys start out as bright and disciplined pupils in elementary school, but they begin to drift toward mediocrity -- if not delinquency -- in middle school. Nationally, only 34 percent of black male high school graduates go on to college. (The U.S. military recruits many college-eligible black men.)

But take a broader look. White boys aren't doing so well, either. Only 42 percent of white male high school graduates go on to college, according to the 2000 U.S. census. By contrast, 44 percent of black girls go to college, as do 46 percent of white girls.

National education experts believe that, if trends continue, fewer white boys will go to college in coming years. Although conventional wisdom has suggested that girls need more support to reverse the lingering effects of sexism, some experts point to data showing that boys are more likely to experience academic failure.

"The typical boy . . . is less committed to school and less likely to go to college. . . . More boys than girls are suspended from school. More are held back and more drop out. Boys are three times as likely to receive a diagnosis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. More boys than girls are involved in crime, alcohol and drugs," Christina Hoff Sommers wrote in the May 2000 Atlantic Monthly.

Since black boys often start out with more disadvantages, including the lingering effects of racism, it is no wonder that their problems are more pronounced. It may take a generation to reverse the entrenched effects of culture and environment, whether it's white teachers who see every black boy as a thug-in-training or black parents who fail to push academic achievement. So it's time to get started.

(Some readers are no doubt apoplectic by now, believing that I contradict my self-help advice with support for affirmative action in college admissions. Keep reading only if you are comfortable with complexities: There is no conflict between insisting that institutions overcome a legacy of racism through affirmative action and also insisting that black parents demand more from their sons. Both are necessary.)

In Georgia, only 21 percent of black male high school graduates go on to college, down from 23.5 percent in 1997. Georgia's educators have responded with a range of initiatives, including recruiting more black male teachers for primary and secondary schools and funding community initiatives such as Gentlemen on the Move, a small program that tutors black boys on Saturdays.

But parents, not teachers, play the most important role in children's education. Every black parent ought to insist on academic excellence; they must combat the perverse view among many black kids that serious scholarship is "a white thing." That notion is prevalent even among middle-class black students, according to University of California professor John Ogbu, author of "Black American Students in an Affluent Suburb: A study of Academic Disengagement."

As long as they remain dismissive of serious academic achievement, black students will consign themselves to mediocrity, at best, or failure, at worst. And no amount of affirmative action will change that.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: blackstudents; boys; education
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A cry in the black education wilderness
1 posted on 05/27/2003 12:54:47 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
What we need is intervention long before the college years. Affirmative action is too little, too late.

If libruls are going to spend our money on social welfare programs, we should at least force them to make the programs effective. Preschools for disadvantaged kids should teach basic reading skills and phonics.

The message to parents should be relentless: "read to your damn kid! make them do their damn homework!" That alone would give a huge boost to "at-risk" children, many of whose parents just aren't pushing them very hard academically.

Then set up gender-segregated schools for elementary- and middle-school children. They will learn more in a single-sex environment, they can learn to mingle with the other gender during recess. Those two reforms would go a long way towards evening the gaps in our educational system (both the racial and gender gaps).

2 posted on 05/27/2003 1:01:35 AM PDT by xm177e2 (Stalinists, Maoists, Ba'athists, Pacifists: Why are they always on the same side?)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Miss Tucker is a hypocrite. As she wrote black youths start out suffering from the "lingering effects of racism". Already she gives these underachievers an excuse to fail. And since racism, like every other human failing, will never be eliminated, there will always be an argument for racialists like Tucker to make excuses for the ones who will fail. "We don't know exactly how racism made you fail, but you poor kid, we suspect it played a major role". The only good solution is to give no excuses for failure.
3 posted on 05/27/2003 1:24:46 AM PDT by driftless ( For life-long happiness, learn how to play the accordion.)
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To: xm177e2
Great points.
4 posted on 05/27/2003 1:27:32 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: xm177e2
Great points.
5 posted on 05/27/2003 1:29:55 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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Comment #6 Removed by Moderator

To: Cincinatus' Wife
"They are dropping out of high school"
"Getting them back on track will require not only intense outreach from university counselors..."

Why are high school dropouts the worry of university counselors?

yitbos

7 posted on 05/27/2003 1:32:55 AM PDT by bruinbirdman (Veritas vos liberabit)
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To: driftless
I think it has a lot to do with racism, both white and black racism. Public education has many flaws, couple that with attitudes about black youth and attitudes of black youth and you have the seeds that shape lives - generations. Ms Tucker recognizes the coming demise of affirmative action and like so many other black voices and leaders in their community, has come to the conclusion that reform, effort and excellence will have to begin at home.
8 posted on 05/27/2003 1:36:20 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: bruinbirdman
Getting them back on track will require not only intense outreach from university counselors and high school teachers but also determined efforts by black parents, black churches and community organizations.

I thinks she's still a bit into the dragging mode and needs to concentrate more on the pushing mode.

9 posted on 05/27/2003 1:46:05 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: driftless
She's worse than just a mere hypocrite --- she's incoherent.

>>> Nationally, only 34 percent of black male high school graduates go on to college. (The U.S. military recruits many college-eligible black men.) <<<

Shame on the US military! Ban the recruiters from the high school campuses! (sarcasm)

Ms. Tucker neglected to mention "sports" --- as in basketball! In too many black homes, emphasis is placed on excelling in sports NOT academics. **Can't act 'white' you know. Book learning is for white boys.**

But we're the racists, right?
10 posted on 05/27/2003 1:46:50 AM PDT by onyx
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To: AlFuller781
Education track. You have a problem with education?
11 posted on 05/27/2003 1:48:11 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: onyx
You need to read all the way down to the bottom of the column.
12 posted on 05/27/2003 1:49:38 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Thanks, but I read the column once, (before I posted my comments). No mention of sports.

Athletic prowess, in all sports, has been a worthwhile vehicle to a college education for many blacks.

Unfortunately, all too many athletes (white and black) put in their 4 years without earning a degree.
13 posted on 05/27/2003 2:22:58 AM PDT by onyx
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To: onyx
The dream of quick wealth is inviting. It takes more than talent to be good athletes. If everyone who pursued that fragile dream put as much effort into learning as they do practicing their sport, those 99% who don't make it in sports, will make it in life.
14 posted on 05/27/2003 3:04:33 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Well, well, well. A hard-core liberal seems to be coming around with the understanding that the problem really is largely the culture of the Black community. She makes a stab to support racial preferences (liberals call it affirmative action) but it's pretty lame. I think this is good news.
15 posted on 05/27/2003 3:41:20 AM PDT by libertylover
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To: driftless
As she wrote black youths start out suffering from the "lingering effects of racism". Already she gives these underachievers an excuse to fail.

She does do that, and I personally took offense at the line about 'white teachers who see black boys as thugs in training'...but on the whole, I think she 'gets it'. She's quoting Dr. Ogbu, which surprised me greatly, and the last 2 paragraphs put the responsibility squarely on the parents.

It's hard to tell about Cynthia Tucker sometimes, but maybe she has to throw a little bit of that in there so as not to be seen as the female equivalent of an "Uncle Tom"?

16 posted on 05/27/2003 3:56:40 AM PDT by Amelia
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Unfortunately the measuring stick always seems to be whether or not they track to a college program. This elitist mindset is utterly senseless. College degrees do not automatically hand you a job or a decent salary. I'd much rather see them create good apprenticeship programs in middle and high school, and then you'd graduate men who become our future rich plumbers and electricians.
17 posted on 05/27/2003 4:23:27 AM PDT by Katya
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To: Katya
You are dead on. When I was in Jr High, there were some 15 year olds still in 8th grade. As soon as they turned 16 they were sent to Vocational Training School where they learned a trade that would support them. Not everyone is cut out for scholastics, and the last plumber I paid most likely makes more than I do.
18 posted on 05/27/2003 4:32:47 AM PDT by widowithfoursons
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To: onyx
The athletes are among the 34% who go to college! And they may be among the least academically qualified, but, as others have pointed out, they are used for 4 years of eligibilty and then sloughed off without a degree.
19 posted on 05/27/2003 4:38:17 AM PDT by CatoRenasci (Ceterum Censeo [Gallia][Germania][Arabia] Esse Delendam --- Select One or More as needed)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Where did the notion come from that the only track to success in life is through so called higher education. Our society suffers from a chronic shortage of mechanics, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, jack of all trades types. Many of these young men would find a place in the world if there were more trade schools available to teach them a skill. And more important, if being a skilled worker was given higher status in society in general and especially in our educational establishment.
20 posted on 05/27/2003 4:41:19 AM PDT by ricpic
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