UNC-Greensboro Graduation Rates a Mixed Bag
News and Notes, NPR’s African American news magazine, ran a very interesting report today that focused on African American graduation rates at the University of North Carolina at Greenboro. The Black student graduation rate at this UNC branch is almost equal to that of white students, a very unusual state of affairs for a large state university.
This is refreshing news, but even more surprising is the fact that African American women at UNC-Greensboro have a higher graduate rate than any other ethnic group on campus, including white students. Sadly, this is not the case for African American men on campus, whose graduation rate is lower than both the all-campus rate and the rate for Black women students.
The struggles of Black male students at UNC-Greenboro are part of a larger underachievement trend for all males on this campus. White males at this UNC branch, for example, graduate at a rate of 43% (incidentally, the national average for all Black students).
Much has been made of the gender achivement gap in education, which pervades all levels of academic work, from grammar school to college. In the U.S., this gap is much more exaggerated in African American communities than in white communities, but it is cause for alarm in all of the populations in which it can be detected.
Many observers of the gender achievment gap note that on average, girls have always done better in school than boys have, that boys have always been more likely to be suspended, to be expelled, and to repeat grades than girls have, and that boys have always been more likely to drop out of school. Boys have always been more likely than girls to present with learning disabilities, and stuttering and other language processing and speech-based disabilities are always more common in males than in females.
And yet the implications of this gender achievement gap are very different today than they were even 10 or 15 years ago. It is becoming less and less possible to earn a liveable wage without a college education; and there are even less options for people who do not complete high school.
Though there may always have been an achivement gap in school performance between boys and girls, changes in the economy, increasing advances in technology, and the rise of globalization have created a world in which this historic difference has much more troubling consequences than ever before.
Add to the mix the racial obstacles faced in the workplace by African American women and men at all levels of education, and the issue becomes quite clear. Men are an integral part of the Black community, entering our lives as fathers and husbands, brothers and sons, colleagues, neighbors, and beloved friends. The gender achivement gaps hurts everyone; but in the African American community, the wounds cut much more deeply.
Posted by Ajuan Mance