Marion Brothers

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Will Dual Enrollment Help Black Boys?

Baby Moses Project looks at possible solutions

From Annie Pettway, Director Community College of Allegheny County:
Can High Schools integrate college course requirements for African American Males in the 9th grade? Allowing them to come to a college campus on a daily basis.

Eddie Griffin:
Allowing black boys in the 9th grade to visit college campuses on a daily basis is a grand idea, as far as socialization and acclamation into a post-secondary academic environment. Maybe it would affect their motivation and post-graduation aspirations. But every child is not cut out for traditional college and too many African-American boys are financially insecure… (There is no reason to go into debt in seeking a college education when there is no guarantee of post-graduation employment). Most of their needs are centered on the immediate future.

Since a technical and vocational education promises a more immediate reward of a 2-year technical degree, AA, or certification, it would seem that African-American boys should begin building foundational trade and career skills as early as possible. Dual enrollment and daily excursions to technical colleges and schools can become a “wonder world” experience for them.

Seeing also, that there is declining support for affirmative action and the Top 10% Rule, race-balancing education pushes black boys away from classic academicals careers toward hands-on trades, such as electronics over English Literature.
Since their needs are immediate, then we should also introduced them to early certification trades and professions, so that by the time they graduate high school, their accounting certification (for example) can lead them directly into internships and apprenticeship programs with an accounting firm.

Henry M. Levin:
I have seen many examples of dual enrollment programs that have shown effectiveness for black males. It is not only the content of the college courses, but familiarity with expectations for success and college role models seem to have very positive results on aspirations and behavior that lead to educational success. My colleague, Melissa Karp at the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University has done considerable research on the development of successful dual enrollment programs.

Melinda Merchur Karp
Research Associate
Community College Research Center,
Teachers College, Columbia University
Box 174, 439 Thorndike Hall
525 West 120th Street
New York, NY 10027
Phone: 212-678-3430

Dear Melinda Karp:

I read about your “dual enrollment” program idea designed for high school students from an online chat between Dr. Henry Levin and Annie Pettway, Director Community College of Allegheny County- although your name was misspelled in the article. (See Q&A Dialogue)

The discussion centered on Dr. Levin strategy for saving African-American male students from a life of poverty and self-destruction. Pettyway suggested that African-American boys should be acclimated to the college environment as early as the 9th grade.

Traditionally, African-American strengths have been in vocational fields, such as dress-making, cooking, woodshop, and metal shop, which are still very good vocations today. However, we, as a society, have not gone back and updated those vocational curricula at the high school level. Neither have we successfully integrated the high tech business world into today’s high school environment, nor explored technical curricula leading to student certification and immediate employability. We have not expanded office literacy skills and professional development courses at the high school level.

Here is where I believe daily excursions into the wonder world of a technical, vocational, and career development colleges can come into the picture. These trades and vocational schools, like DeVry Institute and others, can provide a different mode of educational delivery- the Over-the-Shoulder method of teaching and learning.

These schools cut away much of the academic rigor that impedes African-American boys whose aptitude could be more mechanically or artistically inclined.

I thought that this would be the perfect model for African-American boys. Not only would the child benefit, but the public school system and the vocational, trades, and professional development school with campuses could be well served by such a dual enrollment.

In fact, it would be best for middle or high school students to start the day on the college campus, where punctuality can be regimented. From there, students could be bussed back to their individual schools, for a half-day of high school academic curriculum required to pass state mandated testing.

In this scenario, the young student acquires safety net skills to fall back on. In case all else fails, he can still be a certified welder or plumber making better-than-average wages, even if he drops out or fail to graduate from high school.

What are your thoughts on the issue?

Eddie Griffin (BASG)


  1. It's always good to see anyone concerned about the education, growth, and development of Black boys. I worry that the goal is to turn our young men into cogs to support the system rather than captains of business and industry, but I suppose I can see the point of a safety net, if it is in fact a safety net and not another designed permanent work force initiative.

  2. I agree with Exodus Mentality. I like this idea a lot as long as, as E.M. says, the kids get a chance to choose what's right for them. Luckily many colleges and trade schools offer a wide variety of programs.

    I was wondering:
    - Would the students have a chance to see several different classes first-hand before making a decision what to study?
    - Can they take a different college/trade school class the following semester if they want to?
    - Would this program only be open to black boys?
    - How can funding be obtained?
    - Transportation is a very big issue. Since most students probably live closer to their high school than college, I would suggest they get bussed from the high school and back.
    - Time may also be an issue. Will they have to miss more than one class period of high school per day?

  3. I believe the start of the school day should begin on the college or trade school campus, for the sake of acclamating kids to the 9-5 routine of the work-world, with a time-in/ time-out system of management to monitor time in classroom as a component of a student's productivity. Assuming that we hit the key that sparks students' curriculum interest, motivation to go to school can become self-sustaining and may spill over to the public schools' classroom environment. If they started the day in the public school system, they may be too deflated to peak an interest in other areas of study.

    I would propose a half-a-day at each school. First, it would help public school teachers and administrators by lifting some of the education burden. Second, it would fill up empty space in these secondary facilities and put idle equipment and resources to work.

    Time is a variable factor. I believe quality time education is more valuable than quantitative amount of time expended in repetitive, rote memorization, and other ineffective systems of delivery.

    As I often tell my students, I can teach more in one day, than most teachers can teach in a year. How? Load them up with curriculum that forces them to think, rapid fire, killer break-neck speed, so that when a student emerges from the classroom he is literally intoxicated with knowledge. Better yet, he will be empowered to know how to think, as opposed to what to think (which disempowers).