Addressing the Achievement Gap: An Exploration of a Community Youth Program for Black Children Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Taylor, Brionca
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Sociology
  • The academic achievement gap and the potential causes of racial inequalities in education remain an important topic in society today. Scholars have assessed oppositional culture, school structure and interactions, and the role of parental involvement in school settings. Despite a focus on the larger cultural basis for Black student opposition to education, we know little about the attempts that the Black community has made to address the academic achievement gap. Drawing on 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork, I examined Bright Start Youth Program, a community program that serves elementary-aged Black children from a predominantly white school district. Findings show that Bright Start operated as a counterspace for Black children that engaged in narrative identity work, acts of resistance, and direct relational transactions to help Black children navigate predominantly white classroom spaces. At the same time, ideas of oppositional culture remained present. Program staff and volunteers also saw the children as capable of achieving academic success, but lacking an interest in school. Program activities were largely centered around Black boys who were seen as most in need of attention and discipline. This study demonstrates that colorblind ideology continues to persist in spaces that challenge dominant narratives and racial stereotypes, suggesting that counterspaces unintentionally mirror the same institutions they attempt to contrast.
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Ifatunji, Mosi
  • Tyson, Karolyn
  • Kleinman, Sherryl
  • Master of Arts
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2017

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