The Importance of Understanding the Challenges of African American Male Students: Setting the Foundation for Future Educational Success

The Importance of Understanding the Challenges of African American Male Students: Setting the Foundation for Future Educational Success

Johnny R. O'Connor Jr. (Lamar University, USA), Jennifer T. Butcher (Houston Baptist University, USA) and Freddie Titus (Lamar University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5990-0.ch001


The purpose of this chapter is to provide guidance to scholars, educators, community leaders, and other relevant stakeholders, as it relates to the dilemmas often faced by African American males. In this chapter the authors present foundational information to spark productive dialogue with the hope of balancing the narrative of this often-misrepresented group. This is done through a historical review of issues encountered by African American males, barriers to education, and highlights of the importance of community and connectedness, and creating an awareness and relevance for future generations. The chapter ends with a discussion of future research considerations to prompt further exploration into this topic.
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African American Males in PK-12 Settings

More than 13.5 million public school-aged children live in poverty-stricken areas across America. Often, these children are exposed to a multitude of risk factors that can impede their opportunities for success (Wyman Center Annual Report, 2014). According to the Schott Foundation’s 50-State Report on Public Education and Black Males (2012), approximately, forty-two percent of African American Male students attend low-performing schools and schools that have the minimal access to the resources necessary to support quality learning outcomes. Additionally, a third of the teachers in these high-poverty schools lack the educational credentials and teaching experience required to provide a high-quality education (Schott Foundation Report, 2012). The literature shows no significant progress in closing the academic gap between African American Males and their White counterpart. African American Males continue to perform lower than their peers on almost every indicator (The National Center for Education Statistics NCES, 2012).

There is a need for a concerted national effort to focus on the educational, and social outcomes of African American Males (Lewis, Simon, Uzzell & Horwitz, 2010). Nearly 80% of the students in special education programs are said to be African American and Hispanic males. Conversely, African American Males are 2.5 times less likely to be participants in gifted and talented programs, even when their academic achievement supports their ability to succeed. The suspension and expulsion rate of African American Males is three times as high of all other groups (White, Latino, and Asian Males), and as a result, these students often miss valuable instructional time in the classroom (Aud, Fox, & Keweal Ramani, 2010). The Schott Foundation Report (2012) reveals that nationally, only 52% of African American Males graduate from high school on time, while 75% of White Males graduate on time. The school-to-prison pipeline is still a life pathway option in the Africa American community. In fact, African American Males who are expelled, drop out of school, or have no post secondary plans, become potential candidates of the school-to-prison pipeline. The clarion cry is that African American Males in K-12 needs more support and redirection if they are expected to reach higher heights in their plot to succeed academically.

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