By George E. Curry
Fifty-one percent of Hispanic male high school graduates ages 15-24 and 45 percent of African-American males in that category will end up unemployed, incarcerated or dead, according to a study issued this week by the College Board’s Advocacy & Policy Center.
“Collectively, the pathway data show that more than 51 percent of Hispanic males, 45 percent of African American males, 42 percent of Native American males and 33 percent of Asian American males ages 15-24 will end up unemployed, incarcerated or dead,” concluded a report titled, “The Educational Experience of Young Men of Color: A Review of Research, Pathways and Progress.”
A companion report, “The Education Experience of Young Men of Color: Capturing the Student Voice,” was also released. Both reports were released at a news conference at Harvard on Monday and in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday.
The College Board report on educational experience observed, “…Men, especially minority men, lag behind their female counterparts in college access, educational attainment and employment. Minority men outpace their female counterparts only in negative post-secondary outcomes: unemployment, incarceration and death.”
In order to accomplish President Obama’s goal of the United States retaking its position as the world’s best educated nation, improvements must be made in the rate men of color enroll in and graduate from college, the report stated.
“The report seeks to identify not only what we know but also what we don’t know about men of color,” authors of the study said…It is our hope that this report will be the impetus for scholars to investigate more rigorously the issues affecting the academic performance of young men of color. We are particularly interested in research that identifies solutions to the problems, not that which identifies the problems all over again.”
A different approach would be to study successful men of color to determine what elements went into their success.
How well the problems of men of color are addressed will largely determine whether the United States will have a workforce educated enough to support knowledge-based jobs, which will directly impact the global competitiveness of the nation.
Although high school dropout rates among most racial and ethnic groups have declined over the past three decades, minority dropout rates remain disproportionately high, especially among males, the report noted.
The dropout rate for White males in 2008 was 7 percent. But the figure was 22 percent for Hispanic males, 17 percent for American Indian/Alaska Natives, 12 percent for African-Americans, 8 percent for Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders and 4 percent for Asians.
Dropout rates vary significantly within the ethnic group. Among Hispanics, for example, the high school dropout rate was 25.8 percent for Salvadorans but only 6 percent for Cuban males. The dropout rate was 22.2 percent for Mexicans but only 8 percent for South Americans.
Troubling statistics were also evident at the college level
As of 2008, only 30.3 percent of African-Americans ages 25 to 34 and 19.8 percent of Latinos in that age bracket had attained an associate degree or higher. By comparison, 49 percent of Whites and 70.7 percent of Asian Americans had earned at least a degree from a two-year college. In every group, women had higher graduation rates than their male counterparts.
College enrollment figures show that 25.8 percent of African-American males 18-24 were in college in 1990, slightly higher than the 24.7 percent rate for Black women. By 2008, however, not only had Black women overtaken Black men, they had done so by a comfortable margin. In 2008, 29.7 percent of Black men ages 18-24 were enrolled in college. But the figure for African-American females in that age bracket had risen to 34.2 percent.
Among Hispanic males, the college attendance rate increased from 15.4 percent in 1990 to 23 percent in 2008. But the rate for Hispanic women jumped from 16.4 percent in 1990 to 28.9 percent in 2008. The Asian American/Pacific Islander male graduation rate was the only one to decrease over that period, from 59.2 percent to 53.8 percent while Asian women rose from 54.9 percent to 61.1 percent.
Native American/Alaska Native male college rates doubled, from 8.4 percent to 18.7 percent over that period. Women, who held a 12-point lead over their male counterparts in 1990, saw the gap narrowed, holding only a 24.3 percent to 18.7 percent lead by 2008.
In 2008, White males had a college enrollment figure of 35.6 percent, compared with 34.7 percent for women. But White women had surpassed their male counterpart by 2008, upping their college attendance rate to 46.9 percent, compared to 41.7 percent for men.
The report suggest a goal of ensuring that 55 percent of young Americans hold an associate degree and higher. However, that can’t be done without closing the college completion gaps that separate Whites and Asians from other groups.
The report’s figures on unemployment, incarceration and death were particularly gripping.
In 2008, more than 9.4 million 15-24-year-old high school graduates, including 5 million men (53.1 percent) and 4.4 million women (46.9 percent) were unemployed, the report said. Among males 15- to 24-years-old with a high school diploma, 46 percent of Hispanics were unemployed, 39.2 percent of Native Americans, 34.4 percent of African-Americans and 29.8 percent of Asians. Post-recession numbers are expected to be even higher.
While Hispanics and Native Americans had higher unemployment rates than Blacks, that pattern did not hold true for incarceration. More than 475,000 people aged 18 to 24 were incarcerated in 2008, with males making up 92.4 percent of that group.
Among minority males 15 to 24 with a high school diploma, 9.9 percent of African-Americans were behind bars, 5.2 percent of Hispanic men in that age group, 3.4 percent of Asians and 2.7 percent of Native Americans.
“An early death – natural or violent – is a real possibility for today’s youth,” the report stated. Among 18 to 24-year-olds, it noted, 34,887 died in 2008. Of those, 26,070 (74.7 percent) were males; 8,817 (25.3 percent) were females.
Of those who died in 2008, males made up 77.5 percent of African-Americans, 71.5 percent of Asians, 79.4 percent of Hispanics, 71 percent of Native Americans and 72.6 percent of Whites. Overall, African-Americans and Native Americans were tied at 0.3 percent of the deaths in that age group, followed by Hispanics, at 0.2 percent, and Asians, at 0.1 percent.
The authors of the report said that while there should be a concentrated effort to improve the plight of men of color, women of color also need and deserve support.
Among the report’s recommendations:
1) Policymakers must make improving outcomes for young men of color a national priority;
2) Increase community, business and school partnerships to provide mentoring and support to young men of color;
3) Reform education to ensure that all students, including young men of color, are college and career ready when they graduate from high school;
4) Improve teacher education programs and provide professional development that includes cultural- and gender-responsive training;
5) Create culturally appropriate persistence and retention programs that provide wraparound services to increase college completion for men of color and
6) Produce more research and conduct more studies that strengthen the understanding of challenges faced by males of color and provide evidence-based solutions to these challenges.
The researchers said they reached an unmistakable conclusion: “There is an educational crisis for young men or color in the United States.”