Black and Latino males who are doing well in high school credit their parents’ high expectations, relationships with caring teachers, a respectful, college-going culture in their high schools and a desire to get out of poverty.
Succeeding in the City, a study by Penn Education Professor Shaun Harper, is based on interviews with New York City juniors and seniors with a B average or higher in college-prep classes. All were engaged in school activities and planning to enroll in college.
Two-thirds of the students’ mothers and three-quarters of their fathers lacked any college degree. However 45 percent lived with two parents, which is above average for low-income urban neighborhoods.
“Staying on track can mean staying indoors,” writes Emily Richmond in The Atlantic.
When asked how they avoided being drawn into gang activity in their neighborhoods, many of the students said their parents prohibited all outdoor activity after dark. Some students said that having a reputation as a serious scholar headed for college actually protected them from gang conscription. Many of the respondents also stayed on campus long after classes ended for the day in order to do their studying and hang out with friends, often as a means of avoiding the disruptive neighborhood environment.
Harper also tracked 90 young male black and Latino college students from the same high schools. “Students said they had difficulty with time management–in high school, teachers were careful not to overload students with competing assignments due on the same day, and a student who asked for an extension would likely get one.”
All the high school students could name a teacher who’d helped them succeed. None of the college students could name a supportive professor.