Diversity In African-American Middle Schools

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In recent years, the student demographic in the United States has changed dramatically. American middle schools are becoming more diverse in their student population. Many of the new student body come from minority groups that include African-American and Latino students. Recent research has shown that these minority groups of students come to school at a disadvantage due to their family educational background, and poverty. The purpose of this literature review is to examine how participation in after-school programs help close the academic gap in African American and Latino middle school students and how after school programs can be enhance to assure that the academic gap among minority groups can be shorten.
Gardner, Rod, and Brooks-Gunn
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Many minority students face literacy problems and are challenged by culture differences at school. Many minority children speak little to no English or have parents who do not speak any English. This places the child at a detriment, stifles the school to home communication, and puts the child at-risk for academic failure. According to Miller (2003) and the National Research Council (2002), one of the major risks faced by our youth today is that of separation or isolation due to prejudice, cultural bias, and racism. Teachers often have lower expectations of minority children and do not respond to them positively. The division that are seen in society are often replicated in schools. As a result, these students have higher drop-out rates, discipline referrals, special education placement, and grade retention (Davis-Allen, 2009). Miller relates that successful minority children are often viewed as being bicultural; they are able to function both at home and in society. Miller (p.6) states, “They must maintain the strong personal identity that is key to psychological health and, at the same time, find ways to meet the expectations of mainstream educational …show more content…
Low-income children generally live in neighborhoods where safety, substance abuse and crime are relevant issues. According the Children’s Defense Fund (2000), children of poverty are more likely to live in dangerous areas, have recurring health problems, receive less than desirable education, lack after-school care, and be subjected to violence. Inner city and rural environments have the highest incidence of low-income families. Children in these areas have less access to enriching environments with books and are generally less exposed to reading and explanatory language and meaningful interactions with adults (Duke, 2000). As a result, they often enter school already behind their peers. Van Acker & Wehby (2000, p.93) state that, “The daily routines of child and youth development occur primarily within the specific contexts of family, neighborhood, and primarily within specific contexts of the family, neighborhood, and peer group. The school serves as an important point of convergence of the social context.” Children of poverty by and large do not enter preschool with the same soft skills ( communication, social, and behavioral skills expected at school) as children from higher-income families (Miller, 2003; Payne, 2003). This leads to children feeling separated from the school culture and gives way to

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