Black American Students Affluent P / Edition 1

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John Ogbu has studied minority education from a comparative perspective for over 30 years. The study reported in this book—jointly sponsored by the community and the school district in Shaker Heights, Ohio—focuses on the academic performance of Black American students. Not only do these students perform less well than White students at every social class level, but also less well than immigrant minority students, including Black immigrant students. Furthermore, both middle-class Black students in suburban school districts, as well as poor Black students in inner-city schools are not doing well. Ogbu's analysis draws on data from observations, formal and informal interviews, and statistical and other data. He offers strong empirical evidence to support the cross-class existence of the problem.

The book is organized in four parts:

*Part I provides a description of the twin problems the study addresses—the gap between Black and White students in school performance and the low academic engagement of Black students; a review of conventional explanations; an alternative perspective; and the framework for the study.

*Part II is an analysis of societal and school factors contributing to the problem, including race relations, Pygmalion or internalized White beliefs and expectations, levelling or tracking, the roles of teachers, counselors, and discipline.

*Community factors—the focus of this study—are discussed in Part III. These include the educational impact of opportunity structure, collective identity, cultural and language or dialect frame of reference in schooling, peer pressures, and the role of the family. This research focus does not mean exonerating the system and blaming minorities, nor does it mean neglecting school and society factors. Rather, Ogbu argues, the role of community forces should be incorporated into the discussion of the academic achievement gap by researchers, theoreticians, policymakers, educators, and minorities themselves who genuinely want to improve the academic achievement of African American children and other minorities.

*In Part IV, Ogbu presents a summary of the study's findings on community forces and offers recommendations—some of which are for the school system and some for the Black community.

Black American Students in an Affluent Suburb: A Study of Academic Disengagement is an important book for a wide range of researchers, professionals, and students, particularly in the areas of Black education, minority education, comparative and international education, sociology of education, educational anthropology, educational policy, teacher education, and applied anthropology.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"For those who are interested in nurturing high-achieving African American students, regardless of their place in the educational system, Ogbu's findings may help to craft policies that result in significant improvements in the levels of academic achievement."

-Fall 2006, The Journal of African American History

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface. Acknowledgment and Dedication. Introduction. Part I: Black Academic Achievement and Its Explanations. Black-White Academic Achievement Gap. Academic Disengagement in Shaker Heights. Explaining the Academic Gap; Conventional and Alternative Explanations. Part II: Societal and School Forces. Race Relations. Pygmalion in History, Society, and School. Leveling. Counselors, Teachers, and Discipline. Part III: Community Forces. Opportunity Structure: Schooling and Getting Ahead. Collective Identity, Culture, and Language. Peer Pressures. The Family. Community Forces and Academic Disengagement: A Summary of Findings. Policy Implications.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2006

    An Enlightening Look at the problem

    In the United States there is a lot of talk about the racial disparities in American education, but in reality there are very few proposals for how to deal with it in a real and effective way. Aside from integration following the Brown v. Board of Education decision and Affirmative Action, one is hard pressed to think of a proposed racially based school reform which has had a lasting impact on American education. John U. Ogbu¿s book Black Students in an Affluent American School: A Study of Academic Disengagement not only examines the reasons why black students are less successful than whites in school, but he also proposes solutions to that very problem which have the potential to change the way we educate minority students. This book forces us to examine the often uncomfortable issue of racial disparities in American education. As they often say, knowing is half the battle, and while Ogbu¿s suggested solutions are both relevant and implementable, it is the conclusions he draws in his examination of the problem that make this book revolutionary. Ogbu conducted his study in Shaker Heights, a predominately middle-class suburban community in Ohio. This town prides itself on being a model of community integration after an effort to prevent white flight in the 1960¿s. When the people of Shaker Heights noticed that black students were not performing as well in school and on tests as their white counterparts, they took the initiative and invited Ogbu and his team to come and examine the problem, giving him considerable license and resources to examine and resolve the problem. While no community is truly equal, this one certainly strives for equality, and there is no great disparity between the incomes of whites and blacks, though one does exist. This begs the question which Ogbu set forth to answer: If all factors are essentially equal, why don¿t black students perform as well as whites? In order to find out, Ogbut and his team, including co-author Astrid Davis, came to Shaker Heights and became a part of the community they were studying. Ogbu refers to this method as ethnography, and his research, while having some quantitative features, was primarily qualitative. This is the first stroke in the genius of Ogbu¿s study. Obviously test scores weren¿t telling the whole tale or the Shaker Heights community simply could have implemented solutions themselves. What they needed was an investigation of the whys and wherefores, and Ogbu¿s methodology provided just that. What Ogbu et al discovered was that it was not just the system that was holding these students back. Certainly it played a role, an integral one at that, and he acknowledged this as ¿Societal and school factors.¿ Part of these factors included ideas which have long been discussed, in particular that though the notion of separate but equal was technically abolished by Brown v. Board of Ed, favoritism for whites still exists within American school systems in subversive ways. He also notes that prejudices still linger, and even white students themselves tended to make generalizations that they thought black students didn¿t work as hard and spent more time playing video games. Ogbu delves further into this, however, and goes so far as to suggest why there is a lack of motivation to learn because of societal constructs, particularly since black students tend to not do as well while immigrant students in the Shaker Heights community, though small in population, excelled. He proposes the idea of voluntary and non-voluntary immigration and what that does for a people. Voluntary immigrants are evidently those who choose to come here because they were seeking a better life and felt that America could offer it to them. Since they have faith in the constructs of American society and believe it can help them, they willingly participate in the school system, since participation is healthy and yields positive results such as advancement. Non-voluntary immigrants,

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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