My last blog post introduced the SAAS Project, a research study done by the University of Pennsylvania on the success of Black students in predominately white schools. In this post, I will examine the findings from the study in terms of solutions the researchers think will promote Black student success in white (independent) schools.
First, the researchers concluded from their findings that schools must recognize that each student is a unique individual and that all Black students should not be placed under one cultural umbrella. They believe that this will help to eliminate stereotypical thinking amongst white students that lead to racism. Yes, the students should be seen as individuals and the study shows that self-esteem, which is related to success rate, decreases when students do not feel that they are included or belong. However, the media is the major driving force in stereotyping different groups, so this may be hard to undo, since the media makes such a large impact on students and teachers, alike.
Secondly, the researchers felt that, based on the research, the school should engage in a dialogue about racism and white power and privilege, which they feel would reduce the stress Black students feel when surrounded by a majority white student and faculty body. Again, while, in theory, this makes sense, I wonder how effective this will be. People must admit that there is racism happening amongst them before they can speak about it, and according to the study, many teachers and administrators reported that they did not think discrimination was a problem at their schools. It is impossible to speak about resolving an issue when the majority perceives no issue to resolve.
The third solution the researchers proposed is one I do think will prove effective—increasing the number of Black students in the schools. In doing this, Black students will feel that they have more of a voice and impact on the school, and their sense of community would likely increase. I always felt that being around a familiar face makes one feel more comfortable and confident.
Lastly, researchers feel that schools should come up with organizations that would promote a sense of community among students of color. Many schools have groups like this; a great example is the Black Student Union, which advocates for more racially diverse school programs, discussions, and is a place where Black students can comfortably come together in fellowship.
I researched and critiqued this study in order to gather intel and research strategies for my own study on the same topic. In a future post I will describe in great detail my research method and the tools and demographic of people I will be using for my study.