Target: Nadya Dabby, acting Assistant Deputy Secretary at the Office of Innovation and Improvement with the Department of Education
Goal: End community colleges’ disenfranchisement of men of color
Despite renewed focus from public-private partnerships, and Obama’s promotion of community colleges as a way forward for disadvantaged students, the system of higher education continues to fail young men of color. African American and Latino men are far less likely to graduate with a community college degree or certificate, compared to their White peers, despite higher reported engagement at school and regardless of entrance exam scores. Institutionalized racism, lowered expectations from teachers and administrators, and a lack of diversity among instructors each play a significant role according to a recent study.
The study’s authors from the Center for Community College Student Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin make a clear call for action. Why should academic institutions commit to this work? “First, community colleges open their doors to all students, and they are the higher education institutions most likely to serve men of color” according to the study. “Second, open access is just the first step toward attaining the equity ingrained in the mission of community colleges.”
“We need to figure out why people keep falling in the river,” a student quoted in the study reminds us. “You don’t just keep jumping in and saving that one individual. You run upstream, and you figure out why they are falling in.” Call on policymakers to support community colleges in tackling unequal access and unequal attainment for young men of color.
Dear Ms. Dabby,
Many educators are aware that men are more likely than women to struggle to complete their degrees, and that men of color face even greater challenges. But not enough educators and administrators are addressing the root causes of this disparity.
A new study from the Center for Community College Student Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin shines a light on the issue while urging action. Journalist Michelle Chen discussed the study in Working In These Times. “Our system, not just post-secondary education, but K-12, and criminal justice and child protective service and the like still produce disproportionate outcomes for people of color,” she wrote, “and particularly for men of color.”
Community colleges tend to function independently of one another making federal-level initiatives to promote cultural competence, increase mentorship for and by men of color, and redesign developmental education all the more necessary. Black and Latino students have high expectations when they enter community colleges. Please, intensify your commitment to helping them achieve these worthy goals.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Butch Kinerney via Wikimedia