Black female students are more likely than ever to enroll in college and earn degrees. Black males who make it to college often fail to earn a degree, reports the New York Times, focusing on an anti-dropout program for black males at Medgar Evers College.
Watching Simon Jackson in class is like watching a man who is conflicted about being in college. For long stretches, he huddles silently in the back corner, his head sunk into his bulky jacket. But every so often he strides to the front of the room to chat with the professor or to write on the chalkboard, self-assured to the point of cockiness.
A 10th-grade dropout who earned a high school equivalency diploma, Mr. Jackson, 21, is now a freshman at Medgar Evers College in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, eager, he says, to get a college degree.
“I was in school trying to learn,” he said. “I liked to learn. I still do. That’s why I’m here now.”
As a black man, he is also a rare commodity that the college, part of the City University of New York, is eager to hold on to. The class Mr. Jackson was sitting in recently was a freshman orientation class created this year for men only, in hopes of keeping black male students on track.
Over the course of the semester, class discussions veered from little things, like ways to remember to bring books to school, to how the students felt when they could not get waited on in stores and how difficult it was to go anywhere, even to school, without money in their pockets.
How to remember to bring books to school?
The story quotes a researcher who says the problem starts in Head Start, where black boys are likely to be labeled “developmentally delayed” and shunted into special education programs. Implicitly, special ed is portrayed as a dead end, not a chance to learn. Unfortunately, that’s often accurate.