African American males . . . educate or suspend?

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Ronnie Delaney Christian Sr. (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Craig Peck

Abstract: The current body of literature indicates a large discipline disparity between African American males and other groups of students. This disparity has been an issue since the inception of school desegregation in the 1960s. The discipline disparity has been a national problem affecting African American males in public schools. In an effort to understand and address this issue, more research is warranted as a means of discovering additional solutions that educators can use in public schools. The purpose of my study was to explore how African American male students who were on track to graduate as seniors experienced school discipline and suspension by answering the following questions: 1. What are the disciplinary experiences of African American male students who are on track to graduate as seniors? a. What positive support systems did they have in school? b. What disciplinary obstacles did they face and have to overcome in school? 2. What are strategies that administrators used to address/reduce the suspensions among African American males? a. What are African American males’ opinions of their teachers’ and administrators’ approaches to addressing discipline problems in their schools? Using a basic qualitative approach with emphasis on interviews and observations, I found that African American male students experienced academic and behavior success in school when educators implemented the following: (a) set high academic and behavior expectations, (b) built good student/teacher relationships, and (c) created a school and classroom environment that was culturally relevant for African American males. Teachers who set high academic and behavior expectations for their African American male students experienced positive interactions with them. Such expectations allowed teachers to focus more on students’ academic prowess instead of misconduct and other behavior concerns. Also, teachers who built good relationships with their students had reduced discipline referrals. Students who felt genuine concern from their teachers and experienced feelings of comfort in the classroom had a positive perception of acceptance towards educators. Additionally, African American males felt a level of comfort in schools because their teachers worked to create classroom environments that were culturally inclusive. I also found that assistant principals used specific strategies to help African American males experience academic and behavior success at school. One strategy was employing a customized approach to working with African American male students. Each male was different and required unique methods to communicate. Assistant principals also used counseling strategies to help African American males resolve discipline issues. For example, assistant principals kept items such as Lego blocks in their offices for students to manipulate. This approach helped students calm down by using their hands to release stress so that they could think logically and clearly about the matter being addressed. Last, assistant principals believed that building positive rapport/ relationships with African American males was the most effect means of dealing with discipline issues. Assistant principals believed that good relationships with African American males provided them with a sense of parental care at school that many of them are missing at home.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2020
African American, Discipline, Disparity, Males, Suspensions
African American high school students
Racism in education $z United States
Student suspension $z United States
School discipline $z United States

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