Raise expectations for students and teaching institutions

According to Dr. Carol Johnson, Minneapolis Public Schools superintendent, if the African American men in Minnesota were to develop comparable attitudes to work and school like their counterparts… According to Dr. Carol Johnson, Minneapolis Public Schools superintendent, if the African American men in Minnesota were to develop comparable attitudes to work and school like their counterparts in the southern states, more life chances will be available to them despite institutional barriers that constrain some Black men.

In the South, she said, “you could not use poverty as an excuse for not making it in life. Being poor did not mean that you did not learn to read or that you did not have homework to do. It could not be an excuse for being late. You still had an expectation to perform.”

She pointed to her own experience at school and noted that although she attended racially segregated schools in her native Tennessee, the teachers and the community in her southern state expected her to perform.

“Even my friends who were raised by single mothers or were otherwise in some form of disadvantaged position were expected to perform at school,” she added. So is the case for immigrants, she explained.

The seasoned educator was replying to questions raised on the under-performance of African American males in the Minnesota school system at the KMOJ 89.9 Conversations with Al McFarlane public policy radio program broadcast from Lucille’s Kitchen Restaurant on Tuesday.

Immigrants, she explained are also motivated to progress despite political and economic hardships they faced in their home countries. “They, too, know of their hardship but they do not use that as an excuse for poor performance. They put in the effort that it takes,” she elaborated.

Leaving school before completing studies or under-performance has dire consequences.

Dropouts from high school are more likely to be unemployed and earn less when they are employed than those who complete high school. In addition, high school dropouts are more likely to receive public assistance than high school graduates who do not go to college, according to national education statistics. The status dropout rate represents the percentage of an age group that is not enrolled in school and has not earned a high school credential (i.e., diploma or equivalent, such as a GED). According to this national measure, 11 percent of 16- to 24-year-olds were out of school without a high school credential in 2001.

Although the status dropout rate declined for young adults as a group between the early 1970s and 2001, it remained fairly stable from 1992 to 2001. Racial/ethnic differences exist in the status dropout rates and in the changes in the rates over time. Each year between 1972 and 2001, the status dropout rate was lowest for Whites and highest for Hispanics.

Between 1972 and 2001, the status dropout rates for White and Black young adults declined, while the rate for Hispanics remained relatively constant. The gap between Blacks and Whites narrowed during the 1970s and 1980s, but not in the period since then.

Greater dropout rates among Hispanic immigrants partly account for the persistently high dropout rates for all Hispanic young adults.

Among Hispanic 16- to 24-year-olds who were born outside the 50 states and the District of Columbia, the status dropout rate of 43 percent in 2001 was more than double the rates for first- or later – generation Hispanic young adults born in the United States (15 percent and 14 percent, respectively).

Nevertheless, Hispanic young adults born in the United States are more likely to be high school dropouts than their peers of other race/ethnicity.

In contrast, the National Institute of Health (NIH), Bureau for Demographic and Behavioral Science has reported that new legal immigrants have a higher percentage of individuals who have attended graduate school or have had 9 years of schooling than native-born U.S citizens.

Findings from a new immigrant survey, funded by the NIH, not

July 14, 2003
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