Monday, January 07, 2008

My Grades Were Good So I Chose Not To Go To The Black College

Article: Black colleges struggle to reach goals in face of low graduation rates

Natalie Norton sits alone in a Towson University student cafeteria. The pre-med freshman from Silver Spring hasn't made any close friends yet, and many of her high school buddies now attend nearby Morgan State University, a historically black college.

"I would have preferred to go to Morgan," says Norton, who is African-American. "But I didn't even apply because my grades were really good." Attending a mostly black school would have been "more fun," she adds with a wistful smile. "But academics-wise, they're not as strict. It looks a lot better if you graduate from a majority-white school."

Norton's decision - and the disquieting rationale behind it - represents one of the biggest challenges facing Maryland's four black colleges, experts say, and sheds a light on their recent struggles.

What happened to the notion of "High Black Standards" that was shown in "The Great Debaters"? This type of thinking is sad and an outrage. It did not get this way on its own. This is the result of a long, slow degradation of standards that has taken place at these schools and our community.

Once again I ask the question - why is there such a fight over Affirmative Action, getting a handful of Black students into elite White schools rather than focusing in on the "wide middle" of Black America where these students are on the verge of facing a work career with a high school diploma or can be transformed into high achieving college graduates?


MIB said...

Affirmative Action is considerably more than, "... getting a handful of Black students into elite White schools...". With that said, I'm guessing your commentary here is a veiled attack on 'Black' cultural production.

I don't believe Natalie Norton's views to be a reliable gauge of HBCUs or 'Black' productivity for a couple of reasons. And while there are legitimate criticisms to be made of HBCUs, their actual production -- measured in the numbers of professionals they generate relative to non-HBCUs -- is quite impressive. It's for this reason I feel it's not 'standards' that have declined so much as the expectations of some are unrealistic.

Constructive Feedback said...

Once again - I am happy with the graduates of HBCUs but I am not PACIFIED that the current strategy is addressing the needs of the "Wide Middle" of Black students who will not see benefit from either Affirmative Action nor an HBCU.

The misappropriation of resources and focus is obvious.

Agree or disagree on the subject of Affirmative Action - one thing is for sure - the students featured in the article are not "on the bubble" in the admissions competition of a school with highly competitive admissions where AA is most frequently used.

More fundamental issues need to be addressed before there is an all out attempt at getting students who will do fine in college where ever they go a boost with AA.

MIB said...

The 'current strategy'?

A 'misappropriation of resources and focus'?

I honestly don't know whether to be disappointed or doubled over with laughter by your rhetoric. It's wrong for Af-Ams to advocate for our representation at so-called 'elite' colleges and universities that are, in part, subsidized by Af-Am taxpayers?
In fact... I'm not even sure AA is germane to the issue raised by the article.

It should be obvious to you -- presuming you've spent any considerable time on a college campus -- the leading explanation for HBCUs' poor retention and graduation rates is the relative lack of financial resources available to students. Most HBCUs, including the ones mentioned in the article, are often the low men on the totem pole when it comes to financial subsidies. And while it's seemingly a no-brainer HBCUs should adjust their mission to do more fundraising, how they're to raise capital and from whom (given their current resources) is problematic.

But that viewpoint probably misses the point of what today's HBCUs likely see as their role in American higher education -- maybe that of preparing socially alienated Af-Am students to compete in the modern workplace.

Constructive Feedback said...

I will start over and state that when one uses COMPREHENSIVENESS of the problem and the solution - YES the focus on Affirmative Action is a misappropriation.

The way AA is applied today it is akin to having the Civil Rights industry running downtown to insure that some well fed Black kids can get into the restaurant at the Ritz Carlton. All the while they marched pass many starving, hungry Black children huddled around the various Waffle House, Red Lobster, Appleby's and McDonalds along the protest march.

As I have said earlier - you and others are inclined to say "Look at the examples of Black graduates from college as a result of AA! What are you talking about? Why would you want to take this away?"

To which I say - "Look at all of the Black 9th graders (a far, far larger number) and look at how FEW of them get into college by comparison. THIS is where the untapped potential resides. THIS is where so much is being squandered".

For some reason when it comes to educational Affirmative Action - the Civil Rights community sounds like REPUBLICANS and their "tax cuts for the rich". Rather than focusing on the "Wide Middle" in Black America - you all focus on the elites.

MIB - do you note the PERSPECTIVE that I am operating from in this debate? I am INSIDE OF THE BLACK COMMUNITY looking toward the BLACK COMMUNITY to prioritize, initiate and pace ourselves toward a directed end.

The counter debate is focused upon ALL OF AMERICA, acknowledging the value of diversity and thus setting forth such AA plans to insure that more Blacks receive an education.

Which of these two perspectives ask BLACK PEOPLE to recognize OUR OWN VALUE? Which one has the makings of a more COMPREHENSIVE and PERMANENT change in character within?

I struggle to understand what people assume to be the future as AA makes this imaginary resurgence in the future that they predict.

MIB said...

I'd disagree on AA being the focus of Af-Am politics.

The interesting thing about AA is by definition, most of its beneficiaries are qualified
candidates who face a pattern of exclusion or marginalization due to their race, ethnicity, or gender. More than likely, they're members of the middle class because most Americans -- including Af-Ams are middle class. AA isn't the Black Entitlement Program. And again... AA has nothing to do with the retention/graduation rates of HBCUs. In fact, there are probably more overall opportunities for Af-Am students to attend college because of the various programs designed to enroll minorities and women at non-HBCUs.

I'm not of the belief that college is for everybody, or that everybody needs college. While I'm fully aware that Af-Am primary and secondary students are disproportionally served by inadequate public schools, access to K-12 schools is no longer a problem. That notwithstanding, I don't believe equal outcomes, e.g.; X percent of Af-Ams graduate high school to attend college, to be an efficient or effective application of any group's resources. Neither is an accurate gauge of group productivity.