Research Finds Black Elementary School Students Are Catching Up to Whites in Reading Achievement

A study conducted by scholars at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan has found that in addition to the well-publicized achievement gaps between white and black students, there are significant education gaps within racial and ethnic groups.

The study, presented recently at the annual meeting of the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness in Washington, contended that these intraracial achievement gaps tend to disappear as children progress through elementary school.

The research showed that there were significant differences in reading scores among the group of black students in kindergarten. But by the time black students reached the fifth grade, the reading scores of the low-performing kindergarten students had caught up to the scores of the high-performing group. Furthermore, the percentage of black students in the high-performing group in fifth grade was only slightly below the percentage of white students who scored at high levels.

The authors of the report conclude that the nation’s elementary schools are doing a good job in increasing reading achievement among students of all races and that schooling tends to produce a relative degree of racial equality.

But the results also showed that very few black students start out in the high-performing group in mathematics at the kindergarten level. And very few have progressed into the high-performing group by fifth grade.


African-American Physician Named President of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Dr. Edward Anthony Rankin was elected president of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Dr. Rankin graduated from Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, with a degree in biology. He went on to graduate from Meharry Medical College and served as an intern and resident at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Serving as an Army orthopedist in Vietnam, he earned the Bronze Star.

In 1973 he joined the practice of Dr. Charles Epps, who later served as the first black president of the American Orthopaedic Association. That same year Dr. Rankin joined the faculty of the Howard University College of Medicine. Today, he is clinical professor of orthopaedic surgery at Howard, chief of orthopaedic service at Providence Hospital in Washington., D.C., and clinical associate professor of community and family medicine at the Georgetown University School of Medicine.



Black College in Austin, Texas, Plans to Expand

There have been no new buildings constructed on the campus of Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas, for more than 30 years. But with enrollments at a 10-year high and a goal to further boost the student body by 33 percent over the next three years, the historically black educational institution has announced plans to expand its campus on the east side of the city.

The university is planning to develop a 10-acre site west of its present 23-acre campus. The new development will include residence halls, a daycare center, and a multipurpose building that will replace the university’s outdated gymnasium.


Study Finds Most Hospitals Have Eliminated Racial Disparities in Care

A study conducted by researchers at five universities has found that there is no racial disparity in healthcare received by patients who are admitted to hospitals.

The study, published in the March 11 issue of the journal Health Affairs, examined patients records at more than 1,800 hospitals in 13 states. The research showed that when blacks and whites are admitted to a hospital for the same reason, they receive the same quality of care, and health outcomes are similar.

Darrell J. Gaskin, associate professor of African-American studies at the University of Maryland and one of the coauthors of the study, says that most hospitals have systems in place to ensure that patients receive the same quality of care. “It’s difficult for one hospital worker’s bias to make a difference in treatment.” He goes on to say that at most hospitals African Americans can rest assured that “if you come to the hospital for care, you’re probably getting the same quality as everyone else in that hospital.”

Dr. Gaskin is a 1983 graduate of Brandeis University. He holds a master’s degree in economics from MIT and a Ph.D. in health economics from Johns Hopkins University.


The Higher Education of the New Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court

Peggy A. Quince was elected chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court. She will assume her new duties on July 1. She is the first black woman to hold the post.

Justice Quince is a native of Norfolk, Virginia, where she attended racially segregated schools. Her father worked as a longshoreman on the Norfolk waterfront. In 1970 Quince earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology at Howard University. She received her legal training at the Catholic University of America.

Quince briefly practiced law in Norfolk, Virginia, and Bradenton, Florida, before being hired as a prosecutor for the state attorney general specializing in death penalty cases. In 1993 she was appointed to the state appeals court bench. She was elevated to the state’s highest court in 1998 and participated in the rulings involving the 2000 presidential election in Florida which were later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore.


Tougaloo College to Be the Site of New Civil Rights Museum

Tougaloo College in Mississippi has offered nine acres of land adjacent to its campus to serve as the site of the Mississippi National Civil Rights Museum.

The college will offer the museum a 99-year, rent-free lease in return for internship opportunities for Tougaloo students valued at $50,000 annually. Tougaloo College president Beverly Hogan would like to have many students involved in the work of the museum.

The museum is expected to cost $73 million and will be paid for through private donations. The state of Mississippi has appropriated $500,000 to design the museum. Mississippi governor Haley Barbour will appoint a board of directors to administer the project and lead the fundraising effort.


Former Texas Southern University President Avoids Jail Time

Priscilla Slade, former president of Texas Southern University, pleaded no contest to charges that she illegally used university funds to furnish and improve her personal residence. As part of the plea deal, Slade agreed to refund the university $127,000 and to perform 400 hours of community service.

Slade had been tried on the charges last fall but a mistrial was declared when a jury was unable to reach a verdict. Prosecutors had promised to retry the case. Slade faced a long prison term if convicted of all charges.


In Memoriam

Wilveria Bass Atkinson (1930-2008)

Wilveria Bass Atkinson, who taught biology at Winston-Salem State University for three decades, died recently at Carteret General Hospital in Morehead City, North Carolina. She was 77 years old.

Professor Atkinson was a graduate of Howard University. She held a Ph.D. in immunology from New York University. Dr. Atkinson served as chair of the life sciences department at Winston-Salem State University. She was instrumental in securing government funding for the establishment of the Biomedical Research Infrastructure Center at the university. An endowed chair was established in her honor at the university and the biology department is now housed in a building bearing her name.



• Ken Harewood, director of the Julius L. Chambers Biomedical/Biotechnology Research Institute at North Carolina Central University in Durham, was appointed by Governor Mike Easley to the North Carolina Board of Science and Technology.

• Lorraine Branham was appointed dean of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, effective this coming July. She is currently G.B. Dealey Regents Professor and director of the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. Previously, she had a 25-year career as an editor and reporter for such newspapers as the Philadelphia Inquirer, Tallahassee Democrat, Baltimore Sun, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.



Aetna Insurance entered into a two-year agreement to sponsor the championship tournament and other special events of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The conference includes teams from a dozen historically black colleges and universities. Under the agreement Aetna will provide scholarship grants to member colleges and universities to support medical training and internship programs.

• Lincoln University, a historically black educational institution in Pennsylvania, received a $3.9 million grant from the state’s Health Research Advisory Committee. Lincoln University will partner with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Fox Chase Cancer Center, Haverford College, and Thomas Jefferson University to develop a procedure to restore the function of damaged islet cells. These cells produce insulin.

New Evidence That Gifted Black Students Are Teased by Their Peers for “Acting White”

Researchers at Vanderbilt University have found that gifted black students in K-12 education often underachieve in order to avoid the tag of “acting white.” Donna Y. Ford, Betts Chair of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt and lead author of the study, says that “part of the achievement gap, particularly for gifted black students, is due to the poor image these students have of themselves as learners.”

More than 60 percent of the gifted black students surveyed for the study said they knew black students who had been teased by their peers for doing well in school. More than 40 percent had been teased themselves. Most of the black students surveyed believe that doing well in school was important to their future success, but many admitted that their behavior in the classroom did not always mirror their beliefs.

The study was published in the March issue of Urban Education.


“Sometimes you gotta shut up, listen, and learn, because you don’t know everything.”

Spike Lee, speaking at Northeastern University, March 21, 2008


Initiative Banning Race-Sensitive Admissions at Public Universities in Michigan Is Upheld by a Federal Court

A federal district court judge in Michigan has dismissed a lawsuit seeking to overturn Proposal 2 which was enacted by a wide margin by voters in 2006. The initiative bans the use of race in admissions decisions at the University of Michigan and other state-operated educational institutions.

In his ruling Judge David Lawson said that the plaintiffs failed to show that the initiative specifically targeted minorities with discriminatory intent.

The suit was brought by the group By Any Means Necessary in conjunction with the American Civil Liberties Union. An appeal to a higher court is planned.


Pro Football Player Spends the Offseason in Front of a College Classroom

Hank Baskett, a wide receiver for the National Football League’s Philadelphia Eagles, is spending his offseason teaching a sociology course at Clovis Community College in New Mexico. Baskett, who holds a degree in business management from the University of New Mexico, is teaching an elective called Sociology of Sport. Topics that will be covered are the business of sports, violence in sports, and the role parents play in the lives of student athletes.


Allen University Moves Historic President’s House Two Blocks to Make Room for New Dormitories

The Mance House in Columbia, South Carolina, was built in 1903. Robert Weston Mance, then-president of historically black Allen University, moved into the house in 1922. He and his family lived there for 35 years. Subsequently, three other Allen University presidents lived in the house.

Over the past decade, the house was used for storage and was in need of repair. The university planned to build new dormitories on the site to provide critically needed housing for nearly 500 students. But preservationists wanted to save the Mance House because of its historic value to the university and the community. So last month Allen University paid $116,000 to move the house two blocks away. The 7,000-square-foot home was moved in one piece by truck.

The university now plans to spend $100,000 to renovate the structure so that it can once again serve as the residence of the university president.


Black University Develops Revolutionary Manufacturing Process

North Carolina A&T State University, the historically black educational institution in Greensboro, is licensing technology developed in its laboratories to a start-up manufacturing firm. The technology involves the production of large engineered components made of lightweight carbon-fiber materials. Using the North Carolina A&T technology, these large components such as wind turbine blades, airplane parts, or boat hulls can be constructed without the use of giant ovens to cure the carbon fibers. This can greatly reduce the cost of building the carbon-fiber components.

North Carolina A&T will have a small ownership stake in the company but the university will also derive licensing fees from the use of its technology patents.


$21,241  The median income in 2005 of black men who are high school graduates but have never been to college.

$43,496  The median income in 2005 of black men who have graduated from college.

source: U.S. Census Bureau


New Degree Program in Sport Management at HBCU in Maryland

Bowie State University, the historically black educational institution in Maryland, has announced the introduction of a new degree program in sport management. The interdisciplinary program will offer students the opportunity to specialize in one of nine different concentrations including public relations, marketing, economics, communications, and journalism.


Advanced Placement Tests Where Black Students Continue to Struggle

Last week JBHE reported on the subjects where black students have had the most success in the Advanced Placement program. Now we turn to the AP tests where black students had the least amount of success.

Only 457 of the 2,614 black students, or 17.5 percent, who took the AP environmental science test received a qualifying score of 3 or above. This was the lowest success rate for blacks among all the AP examinations.

Less than 25 percent of all black students succeeded in qualifying for college credit in the subject areas of macroeconomics, physics, English language, statistics, U.S. history, English literature, U.S. government and politics, chemistry, microeconomics, Spanish, and the more widely taken of the two computer science tests.


New Scholarship Program at HBCU in Ohio

Central State University, the historically black educational institution in Wilberforce, Ohio, received a $3.1 million grant from the Choose Ohio First Scholarship fund, which was established by the state legislature. Under the program Central State will be able to provide full-tuition scholarships to about 30 students who have expressed their goals of achieving a degree in mathematics, mathematics education, or computer science.

The university will recruit students from local high schools as well as community colleges.


Haverford College Eliminates Loans for Entering Low-Income Students

Haverford College, the highly regarded liberal arts college in suburban Philadelphia, is the latest prestigious educational institution to broaden its financial aid package for low-income students. Under the new program, the college will increase its financial aid budget by 25 percent. All incoming freshmen who qualify for financial aid will receive only scholarship grants and will not have to assume any debt. Loans for continuing students will also be significantly reduced.


Two Black Authors Win National Book Critics Circle Awards

Harriet Washington, who was a long-time fellow at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health, received the National Book Critics Circle Award in the nonfiction category for her book Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans From Colonial Times to the Present.

Edwidge Danticat, the Haitian-born Barnard College graduate who has taught at New York University and the University of Miami, took home the same award in the autobiographical category for her book Brother I’m Dying.



• Reaner Shannon, associate dean for cultural enhancement and diversity at the medical school of the University of Missouri Kansas City, has announced her retirement. She was the only African-American dean at the university and the only black administrator at the medical school. She first joined the university as a lab technician in 1974.

Shannon holds bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from the University of Missouri Kansas City.



• Roland Smith Jr., associate provost at Rice University, received the 2008 Alumni of Color Achievement Award from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.

Smith has been an administrator at Rice since 1996 after spending 23 years as a faculty member and administrator at the University of Notre Dame.

• Travis Parker, an instructor of physical education and coach of the track and soccer teams at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento, California, was given the Hayward Award for Excellence in Education from the board of governors of the California Community College System. Parker has taught at the college for 36 years.



Copyright © 2008. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.