Contemporary empirical studies also refute Fordham and Ogbu's (1986) assumption that Black Americans do not value education. Using data from the 1990 National Education Longitudinal Survey (NELS), a nationally representative sample of 17,544 tenth grade students, Cook and Ludwig (1998) report several findings that stand in contrast to Fordham and Ogbu. Their results indicate no differences in the number of Black and White tenth graders who expect to attend college, and after controlling for socioeconomic status, Blacks expect to stay in school longer than Whites. Also, when adjusting for family characteristics, Blacks are absent from school for fewer days than Whites. According to Cook and Ludwig, Black students in the NELS sample were more likely to report parental involvement in their schools, in the form of contacts with teachers or attendance at school meetings. After controlling for socioeconomic status, Black parents were also more likely to check their children's homework. Additionally, Ainsworth-Darnell and Downey (1998) also use the 1990 NELS data set to reach similar conclusions that contradict Fordham and Ogbu's assumptions. According to their data, Black students were significantly more likely than White students to report that education was important for occupational attainment, and also to have optimistic occupational expectations. Ainsworth-Darnell and Downey also found that Black students had more positive attitudes toward school than White students.
Data also indicate a positive relationship between academic success and peer popularity among Black students. Cook and Ludwig (1998) found that Black honor society members were significantly more popular than their classmates, and that academic success had a more positive impact on social status in predominantly Black schools than in predominantly White schools. Ainsworth-Darnell and Downey (1998) reach similar conclusions. All of these lines of evidence contradict Fordham and Ogbu's "acting White" hypothesis.
For example, a recent study conducted by the Minority Student Achievement Network looked at 40,000 students in grades seven through 11; it found little if any evidence that blacks placed lesser value on education than their white peers. Instead, they found that black males are more likely than white, Hispanic or Asian males to say that it is "very important" to study hard and get good grades; white males are the least likely to make this claim. The researchers also found that blacks were just as likely to study and work on homework as their white counterparts.
Even in high-poverty schools, disproportionately attended by inner-city students of color, attitudes towards schooling are far more positive than generally believed. Students in high-poverty schools are four-and-a-half times more likely to say they have a "very positive" attitude toward academic achievement than to say they have a "very negative" attitude, and 94% of all students in such schools report a generally positive attitude toward academics.
Another young man, now a record producer and rap recording artist, had gone away to Exeter, the elite private preparatory school, and come back dressing and speaking differently from when he left. He was accused of acting white. His interpretation of why former friends in the community were a little “put off” or “taken aback,” was not that they resented his success. Instead, his interpretation was sensitive to their concern that he might be trying to escape the stigma. He said they wondered if he had “sold out” to the Other part of society that looked down on people like themselves. He responded by finding ways to share his success and, “By letting them know that I’m not ashamed. I can still speak slang. I can still rap, even.”
« Older For that person who has bought everything on ebay;... | Winter in Minnesota... Newer »
This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments
Buy a Shirt