A School Model for Developing Access to Higher Education for African American: Social Capital and School Choice

A School Model for Developing Access to Higher Education for African American: Social Capital and School Choice

Sheldon Lewis Eakins (Shoshone-Bannock School District, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9108-5.ch009
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This chapter discusses the social inequalities in school choice and the racial disparities of college access. Utilizing the theories of social capital and social inclusion, the author provides a conceptual framework for developing a college-going school culture in charter schools. Through this lens, the author considers that the level of school support needs to be equitable to the varying stages of self-efficacy, academic behaviors, and post-secondary aspirations that students enter school with. The author suggests the importance of the RECIPE (rigorous curriculum, expectations, collegiality, interconnection, parental engagement, and exposure) to prepare African American students for college.
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School choice has recently been viewed as the mainstay of President Trump’s educational reform plan (Mavrogordato & Harris, 2017). However, many critics believe school choice such as charter schools cannot fix educational problems and bring in opportunities to segregate or create an elitist culture of student demographics and backgrounds (Frankenberg, Siegel-Hawley, & Wang, 2010; Miron, Urschel, Mathis, & Tornquist, 2010). Although charter schools enroll students of color at an alarmingly disproportionate rate to White students (Frankenberg & Lee, 2003; Wells, Holme, Lopez, and Cooper, 2000), there are many charter schools that successfully increase academic achievement of underrepresented students such as first-generation, students of color, and/or low-income (Angrist et al., 2016; Cohodes, 2018; Curto & Fryer, 2014; Rose, Maranto, & Ritter, 2017). However, because of the inability for numerous public school systems to lessen the academic achievement gap of African American students residing in urban areas (Bohrnstedt et al., 2015; Darling-Hammond, 2015; Rothstein, 2004; Wagner, 2014; Young & Young, 2017), alternative educational ideologies and practices, in regards to school reform, have recently become more suitable (Teasley et al., 2016). Therefore, charter schools that serve higher populations of African American students may benefit from creating an intentional structure that imbues a college-going school culture.

Despite the often-contentious conversations for and against school choice options, charter schools have emerged as the fastest growing educational innovation in the United States (Renzulli & Evans, 2005). Between 2000 and 2015 charter school enrollment increased from 0.4 million to 2.8 million (McFarland et al., 2018). Furthermore, the number of charter schools in the United States and the District of Columbia have more than tripled increasing from 2,000 schools to 6,900 schools between 2000-01 and 2015-16. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, 33% of students enrolled in charter schools are White, and 27% of students enrolled in charter schools are African American (McFarland et al., 2018).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Social Inclusion: A method to ensure equitable opportunities for individuals to participate and procure information within a particular group.

College Readiness: The social, academic, and emotional level of skills that a student needs to enter and complete a college degree program.

College Choice Process: The three-phase process that students go through when making their decision to attend college. The first phase is the predisposition which is their initial interest in enrolling in college. Phase two is the search process in which students begin to research and review colleges that may be of interest to them. The final phase is the choice phase in which students make their final decision based on their admissions acceptance.

School Choice: A process that allows parents to use public education funds to enroll their students into a school of their choice. This may include public, private, charter, and home school.

Social Capital: How a student acquires their knowledge of information and resources from individuals who are experienced in areas of the student’s interest. In this case, how students learn about college, the application process, and how to make informed postsecondary decisions.

Parental Engagement: The development of school-parent relationships to create a more family-oriented school culture.

Rigorous Curriculum: A curriculum that challenges a student’s critical thinking skills to produce high academic achievement outcomes in preparation for college level course work.

Charter School: A school subsidized by public funds that operates independently based on an established agreement that allows the school to create a program to meet students’ needs.

Collegiality: The act of school personnel working together towards a common goal and understanding.

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