It has been found, on average, that teachers have lower expectations for African-American males than White males or African-American females. Middle class white women are afraid to teach them because they are intimidated. Many didn’t grow up with them, so they don’t know the types of behavior to expect. Urban African-American males are more likely to attend predominantly Black high schools that employ a majority of teachers with temporary licenses that teach outside of the subject of their expertise. African-American male youths are underrepresented in honors courses, but they are overrepresented in special education classes.
The most critical issue facing the African American community as a whole is improving the futures of African American males. African-American males face many challenges that may compromise their success in school. They are often described as “lazy”, uneducable” or “dangerous” which “reinforce negative stereotypes” (Strayhorn, 1). These stereotypes shape the perceptions and expectations of teachers. One is not going to have high expectations of a lazy person. If we go back to slavery, “law and custom made it a crime for enslaved men and women to learn or teach others to read and write” (Perry, 13).
Of course, many slave owners taught their slaves to read and write despite this law. Some slaves even paid good money to learn. The Black Sunday school also taught slaves to read the Bible, do math, and write, often in secret (Hale, 193). The institution of Sunday school was started in 1759 by Robert Raikes in England. It was established “as a preventative to juvenile delinquency and to help youngsters who had inadequate schooling” (Hale, 192). For six days of the week, youngsters worked in factories for long hours. Sunday was their only day of leisure.
Sunday school kept them from becoming involved in vandalism and other crimes. Today, the Sunday school has a responsibility of teaching the history of African Americans and the African –American church. It is also important for children to conceptualize the universe with biblical principles of creation and scientific theories. Creation is not taught in the school system; however, many scientific principles can be found in the Bible. The Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 outlawed segregation. The main reason for the fight was that there were separate and unequal schools for African American students.
In the 1950s, conditions at black schools were deplorable. The buildings were run-down, one-room wooden structures with backless benches. There was an average of 36. 2 black children per classroom compared to 22. 6 whites per classroom (Patterson, 11). There was also a lack of basic supplies. Black student received old textbooks with pages torn from them. White students received their textbooks first, and they were provided with buses to ride to school. Black students always had to walk to school. Even some of the teachers that taught them had a lack of training.
These things were believed to done purposely so that black students did not get an adequate education. In Greater Hartford, Connecticut, even fifteen years after this ruling, “government officials regularly built schools that were 100 percent racially segregated from day one” (Eaton, 58). In the 1970s, real estate agents steered whites away from racially mixed neighborhoods. Meanwhile, blacks and Hispanics were steered into developing ghetto neighborhoods and minority suburbs. Since the Fair Housing Act prohibited discrimination, the U. S. Department of Justice filed lawsuits eight of the largest real estate firms in the area.
The African American male is at the most risk for feeling uncomfortable in the classroom. There should be a balance of groups so that every child has someone in that group that they feel comfortable with. Many teachers don’t like to group black males together because they believe that it could cause problems that require discipline. If those black males are spread out among different classrooms, they could meet up at recess or lunch. Twenty percent of Black men reported feeling put down in class by their teachers; only 4 percent of White men and 4.
8 percent of Black female felt that way. For instance, some are hurt by the fact that they’re accused of cheating when they earn a good grade in class. One African-American male was stunned by the fact that his female teacher made a remark about “it being hard for an African American man to run this country” (Strayhorn, 4). We know now that an African American man can successfully win a Presidential election. Research shows that boys and girls are treated differently in the classroom; this largely depends on the gender of the teacher.
It was found that: “1) conditional upon their test scores at the end of the third grade, boys perform worse and gain less on math, reading, and writing during the 4th grade; 2) regardless of gender, students of male teachers perform worse than students of female teachers and; 3) there is no significant differential impact of male teachers on boys versus girls—both do equally poorly relative to students of female teachers” (Krieg, 2). If we look back in history, many former slaves were influenced by female teachers. In The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, he discusses his mistress, Mrs.
Auld, who started the process of his learning to read and write. Douglass described Mrs. Auld “as a woman who was different from any other white woman he had known” (Perry, 14). The Autobiography of Malcolm X “asks and answers those questions that contemporary educators of African-American students skittishly avoid but must inevitably confront: Why become literate in contemporary America? Why become proficient at reading and writing? Why should African-American youth take school seriously if they cannot predict when and under what circumstances their intellect or intellectual work is likely to be taken seriously?
Why should African-American youth commit themselves to doing outstanding intellectual work if—because of the marker of skin color—this work is likely to be undervalued, evaluated differently from that of whites, or ignored? Why work hard at school, or at anything else for that matter, if these activities are not inextricably linked to and address one’s status as a member of a historically oppressed people ” (Perry, 19). Malcolm X recalls being at the top of his class academically. He received some of his best grades from his English teacher, Mr. Ostrowski.
He was known as a supporter adviser to white students that made average grades and didn’t come from affluent families. However, he discouraged Malcolm X from aspirations of being a lawyer. “He was “Black”, and his achievement did not neutralize this reality” (Perry, 20). Although Malcolm was the best student in the class, his accomplishments were invisible to Mr. Ostrowski. This caused Malcolm to lose interest in school. It was pointless for him to work hard when his achievements would not be recognized. It wasn’t until Malcolm went to prison that he realized that literacy was very important.
“Becoming literate, for Malcolm, was a way to claim one’s humanity, to equip oneself with a weapon to be used in the struggle for freedom” (Perry, 21). He could motivate people to action, persuade people, and inspire them to be educated. Barack Obama made history on November 4, 2008 as the first African American man to be elected President of the United States. As a boy, he attended Punahou School in Honolulu, Hawaii. It was one of the state’s top private schools. “The 3,600 students came from a wide range of backgrounds, with a blend of Polynesian, Asian, and European cultures” (Associated Press, 2).
Obama was one of the few blacks that attended the school. He was known for his charming personality, honesty, and his skills on the basketball court. While growing up in the islands, Obama experienced some discrimination, mostly other kids laughing at his name. His father, Barack Obama, Sr. , was a black man from Kenya. His mother, Ann Durham, was a white woman from Honolulu. After their divorce, Obama went to live in Indonesia for four years with his mother and stepfather, Lolo Soetoro. After that, his mother sent him back to Hawaii to live with his grandparents so that he could attend Punahou.
It had “a rigorous high school curriculum” (Associated Press, 4). When Obama was a teenager, he went to parties and other gatherings at military bases. “He tried drugs and let his grades slip in his final years of high school” (Associated Press, 7). However, he still dominated the basketball court. He also served on his school’s literary magazine’s editorial board and sang in the choir for two years. Even though Obama wasn’t a straight-A student, everyone had high expectations for him. They were right—Barack Obama went on to accomplish great things.
African American parents can sincerely tell their sons that they can accomplish anything—even becoming President of the United States of America. There are many successful black males that attribute their success of learning to their mothers. Ben Carson, a well-renown neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital, describes the role his mother played in his path to success in his narrative Gifted Hands. He recalls being the worst student in his predominantly white math class. “Not only was he embarrassed, but the other children in class made fun of him” (Perry, 39).
He later became the best student in the class because of his mother’s intervention and faith in his success. Haki Madhubuti, who was formally known as Don L. Lee in the sixties, was a popular poet at that time. In an interview with Cornel West, he attributes his mother as the early critical influence in his life (Perry, 37). He was later influenced by Black educators that founded institutions. Twin brothers Tiki and Ronde Barber were raised in a single-parent household. People in their neighborhood made assumptions about them because of their skin color.
Tiki is now retired from the New York Giants where he was “the all-time leading rusher in Giants history” (Hill, 31). He is currently a commentator. Ronde still plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Their mother taught them how to behave and that education was a top priority. It is great that someone can be good at sports, but it is more important to do well academically. Bill Cosby has been doing comedy routines since the fifth grade. His teacher thought that an original routine that he put on for his class was so funny that he was asked to do it again.
Although he was extremely intelligent, he did poorly in school because he was too busy being funny. When he learned he would have to repeat a grade later on as he became older, he dropped out of school and joined the navy (Bel Monte, 65). After leaving the navy, he attended Temple University. He became a part-time stand-up comedian to finance the majority of his education. From that point on, he had great success as a comedian, actor, and businessman. “Achievement data show outstanding performance in school districts that serve children who are white with high average family incomes.
These data are sometimes used to argue that African American children are genetically inferior, or that the quality of education in schools that serve African American children is inherently deficient” (Hale, 7). However, programs that work for white middle-class families will not necessary work for African American ones. Many African American children come from single parent households. Those parents usually have to work long hours just to make ends meet. They may not have the time to be as involved with their children’s education as they would like to be.