Who Really Cares? The Disenfranchisement of African American Males in PreK-12 Schools: A Critical Race Theory Perspective
by Tyrone C. Howard - 2008
Background/Context: Despite recent gains from a number of students in U.S. schools, African American males continue to underachieve on most academic indices. Despite various interventions that have attempted to transform the perennial disenfranchisement, their school failure has persisted. Conversely, their failure in schools frequently results in poor quality of life options.
Purpose/Objective/Focus of Study: The objective of this study was to use critical race theory as a paradigmatic lens to examine the schooling experiences of African American males in PreK-12 schools. The focus of the study was to shed light on how African American males believe race and racism play as factors in their schooling experiences.
Research Design: The article includes qualitative data from a case study of African American males who offer counterstorytelling accounts of their schooling experiences. This article also explores the utility and appropriateness of critical race theory as a methodological tool to examine and disrupt the disenfranchisement of African American males in U.S. public schools.
Findings/Results: The results from this study revealed that the participants were keenly aware of how race shaped the manner in which they were viewed by their teachers and school administrators. The data also revealed how the participants explicitly fought to eradicate negative racial stereotypes held about African American males. Finally, the use of counterstorytelling within a critical race theory framework seemed to provide the participants a platform to discuss race-related issues in a manner that many of the participants felt was lacking in their school environments.
Conclusion/Recommendations: The findings from this study reveal some of the difficult obstacles that many African American males seek to overcome in order to become academically successful. Moreover, the findings suggest that educators must become more conscious of the role that race and racism plays in their schooling environments. Furthermore, educational researchers who are concerned with disrupting school failures of students of color and from low-income backgrounds should consider conceptual and methodological frames that place race, class, and gender at the center of their analysis.
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