Many may think of the College Board’s role in the education of young men of color as at least problematic. The College Board is often taken to be the gate keeper to much in higher education in the United States, and their exams are thought by many to provide very hefty obstacles for many whose social environment is not solidly white American.
I think we should put those issues aside to look at the recent results of the Board’s advocacy and policy arm, which is making available the results of quite extensive research on how to increase the success of young men of color in college. While they do not address all the questions we have raised – such as why there is a dearth of African American professors of philosophy – some of their general recommendations could give one ideas about how to make a philosophy department more attractive to people of color.
This web site has videos from a conference on educating young men of color and three important publications, the latter on the right hand side.
The publication on legal implications and policy guidelines looks to address concerns about programs that admit a subgroup that is identified by race or sex. It looks to be important if you want to design a program, but it also addresses some issues that may come up as one just starts to discuss addressing, e.g., the present whiteness of an area of study.
A publication review of research and progress is to some extent case based, and draws on the experience of specific individuals. Another publication, with the alarming subtitle “Capturing the student voice,” has a lot of data that breaks down various sub-groups. These two publications also have general policy recommendations. The latter address some of the issues about framing the questions that guide research and perhaps misguide it. For example, one passage points out that white experience is standardly taken as the norm against which the experience of people of color is measured. As they point out, this leaves out the question of whether meeting that norm is a particularly good goal.
Here’s one list of general recommendations, from the Chronicle of Higher Ed’s article, for what is emphasized as an important national problem: the nation’s failure to capitalize on the talent and resources in communities of color:
1. Minimize the experience of ‘feeling like an outsider’ by recruiting a critical mass of men of color.
2. Elevate the importance of aid that addresses life issues to the same level as academic and financial aid.
3. Increase access and support for students who step off the pipeline, yet want to step back on.
4. Close the engagement gap (in terms of curriculum and learning) for better outcomes.
5. Increase the chances for getting help from campus resources.
6. Create a support culture of community, connection, and relationship building on campus.