Education and Race

Kara Powell | Jan 14, 2011

As someone who believes that education is often the tool to Kingdom justice, I was especially interested in the different racial perspectives related to education as described in one chapter in the new book by Christerson, Edwards, and Flory called Growing Up in America: The Power of Race in the Lives of Teens. Based on the National Study of Youth and Religions data on teenagers, it compares Latino, Asian-American, African-American and white teenagers. This blog highlights some of the most interesting findings related to education and achievement.

Why do kids of different races want to do well in high school?

White kids want to because they want to get into a good college.

Asian-American youth view high school as a trajectory for a career (with college as an intermediary step).

Heres where it gets more interesting (and alarming): Latino and African-American youth are more interested in doing well in high school because they want to get a good job (note its not a good career but a good job) or because they have a vague sense that its important. They arent as college or career focused as white or Asian-American kids.

More alarming still: teachers tend to invest more in the lives of white youth than non-white youth. Heres a quote from the book: Youth of color, no matter their academic achievement, involvement in school activities, or socioeconomic status, are rarely helped by their schools to, for example, improve their grades or understand the college admittance process.

I want every educator, tutor, pastor, and parent to know this information. THIS is a justice issue.

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.


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