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
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3438-0.ch014
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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).

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