National Education of African American Males Addresses Why Population Lags Behind in Education

Few African American males succeed as students, studies are finding, and a first-of-its-kind conference in Denver will begin to investigate why.

For example, as many as 76 percent of African-American males don’t graduate from high school in some areas of the nation, according to the Urban Institute. The population is also underrepresented as professionals in the educational system.

The conference will attempt to shed light on complex problems facing African-American males throughout the educational system, from kindergarten through college, to help educational policy makers, researchers and teachers to address concerns. Chance Lewis, assistant professor of Teacher Education at Colorado State University and associate director of the Center for African American Research and Policy, a conference sponsor, points to statistics such as those from the Urban Institute that show that African-American males are more likely than any other group to be suspended or expelled from school, only half of all Africa- American men who are 16 to 24 years old who are not in school are working, and about one-third of all young African-American men in the U.S. population are in jail, prison or on parole or probation.

African-American males are often categorized as at-risk in educational systems, and they often lag behind African-American females and their white male counterparts. They are more likely than any other group to be suspended from schools, and they are often underrepresented in gifted educational programs or advanced placement courses and often experience the most challenges in higher education settings as both students and teachers, according to research.

"Today, obtaining a solid education determines, more than almost any other time in American history, the degree of social mobility one has or will have in American society as well as quality of life," said Jerlando Jackson, a conference coordinator and executive director for the Center for African American Research and Policy and assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Evidence clearly suggests that African-American males are not accelerating in education to the degree that other population groups are, and impact of that fact on this population group is also evident."

The National Education of African American Males conference, a groundbreaking effort to bring relevant parties together to address the educational needs of African-American males, will be held in Denver on Thursday, May 4, and Friday, May 5. Hosted by Colorado State University, the Center for African American Research and Policy and the Interwest Equity Assistance Center, the conference will provide opportunities to discuss how research can translate into action to better African-American males’ experiences at all stages of the educational system, from the early influence their family has on their educational success to their role as university administrators.

By bringing together individuals who are committed to improving the educational conditions of African-American males in the United States, conference organizers hope to not only present a picture of why African-American males fail in the educational setting, but what parents, teachers, researchers, administrators, students and policy makers can do to reverse the national trends.

"This population faces complex problems throughout the educational system. We’ll examine the role of family functioning for African-American male’s academic achievement and how authoritative parents, for example, can make a difference in a boy’s success in school," Lewis said. "We’ll also examine strategies that are effective in keeping this population in school as well as strategies for retaining African-American male teachers in all levels of education."

While the overall percentage of both African American and white males completing high school has dropped in the last 15 years, the decline for African-American males is at about 4.5 percent, while the decline for white males is nearly 1 percent. Fewer African-American males participate in college than white males, with 8 percent of college-aged African-American males receiving bachelor’s degrees in recent years compared to more than 76 percent of white males.

African-American males also hold few faculty positions on college campuses, representing less than 5 percent of all faculty in 1998 compared to 85.5 percent of positions held by white males.

National experts will discuss research and current issues in the educational system that impact African-American males. Conference presenters are:

– Lamont A. Flowers, distinguished professor of Educational Leadership and director of the Charles H. Houston Center for the Study of the Black Experience in Education at Clemson University.

– Jerlando F. L. Jackson, assistant professor of Higher and Postsecondary Education at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and executive director of the Center for African American Research and Policy.

– Chance W. Lewis, assistant professor of Teacher Education at Colorado State University and associate director of the Center for African American Research and Policy.

– Jelani Mandara, assistant professor of Human Development and Social Policy at Northwestern University.

– James L. Moore, III, associate professor of Counselor Education at The Ohio State University.

– Brian N. Williams, assistant professor of Public Administration and Policy at the University of Georgia.

For more information about the conference or to register, visit or call 303-623-9384. Pre-registration is required.