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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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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 110 Number 5, 2008, p. 954-985
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 14652, Date Accessed: 9/23/2021 7:56:42 PM

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About the Author
  • Tyrone Howard
    University of California, Los Angeles
    E-mail Author
    TYRONE C. HOWARD is an Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies at UCLA. His research interests include equity and access in urban schools, multicultural and social studies education, and teacher education. Professor Howard has recently published a chapter titled “Bridging the gap: Effective practice and research to improve African American student achievement” in Milner,H.R. & Ross, E.W. (Eds.) (in press), Race, Ethnicity, and Education: The Influences of Racial and Ethnic Identity in Education. Westport, CT: Greenwood/Praeger.
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