By Michael Shepherd, Published December 8, 2009
The U.S. educational system must raise educational attainment among low-income Latinos and African-American males, and community colleges are a logical partner to reach that goal.
Public two-year colleges are often the point of entry into higher education for these two groups of men, and they serve a high percentage of first-generation college students and students of color.
Latino and African-American males often encounter different problems at the collegiate level that correlate with their dropout and graduation rates. Problems such as not enough professors of the same race, few students of the same race, discrimination, rude and unfair treatment because of race, campus climate, commitment to educational goals, social and academic integration and financial aid.
Institutions of higher education have been known in the past to have an environment that has been culturally irrelevant to such students. As an African-American male who just completed his master’s degree, I often looked around the classroom and found there was no one like me.
There are likely many reasons these men vanish from the classroom or decide not to even attend college. One reason in particular is residential segregation of neighborhoods and schools before they even consider college. I lived in the inner city and I know youths in these areas are not afforded the same educational opportunities as people who live in more affluent neighborhoods. Students in predominantly black and Latino schools are less likely to graduate high school, earn a high school diploma or even a bachelor’s degree, according to research.
Another problem is the K-12 system. Most African-American and Latino parents live in the inner city, where their children attend schools that often lack the academic rigor and discipline needed to succeed in college. This in itself may lead to the inability to maintain the...