ERIC Number: EJ851415
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Reference Count: 73
Access and Equity for African American Students in Higher Education: A Critical Race Historical Analysis of Policy Efforts
Harper, Shaun R.; Patton, Lori D.; Wooden, Ontario S.
Journal of Higher Education, v80 n4 p389-414 Jul-Aug 2009
Higher education has been characterized as "one of the greatest hopes for intellectual and civic progress in this country. Yet for many Americans, however, it has been seen as part of the problem rather than the solution" (Boyer, 1997, p. 85). Some have acknowledged that higher education is a public good through which individual participation accrues benefits for the larger society (Institute for Higher Education Policy, 1998; Kezar, Chambers, & Burkhardt, 2005; Lewis & Hearn, 2003). Despite this, recent analyses have confirmed that too few African Americans are offered access to the socioeconomic advantages associated with college degree attainment (Harper, 2006; Perna et al., 2006). In some ways, the recurrent struggle for racial equity is surprising, given the number of policies that have been enacted to close college opportunity gaps between African Americans and their White counterparts at various junctures throughout the history of higher education. Though presumably for the best, Tyack and Cuban (1995) acknowledge that education policymaking does not always lead to sustainable progress. Much evidence exists to confirm this has been the case with policies created to increase access and ensure equity for African American students in higher education. Such efforts are described in this article. While various scholars have offered insights into the educational histories of African Americans (e.g., Allen & Jewell, 1995; Anderson, 1988; Gasman, 2007; Katz, 1969), comprehensive analyses of the underlying catalysts, low sustainability, and ultimate effects of policy efforts throughout the lifespan of higher education are scarce. This article seeks to fill that void. Policies that have affected participation and degree attainment rates for this population across various time periods are reviewed and discussed. The authors juxtapose historically noteworthy progressive steps toward access and equity with recent indicators of backward movement. Implications of these policy shifts are considered and critiqued at the end of the article. But first, the lens through which they analyzed these policies is described in the next section.
Descriptors: African American Students, Higher Education, Race, Access to Education, Equal Education, Critical Theory, Educational Policy, Educational Attainment, Socioeconomic Status, Educational History, Court Litigation, Affirmative Action, College Admission
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A