Black Colleges and Universities
Tests measuring students’ achievement demonstrate that particular groups of students score far below students of other groups. Records indicate that the discrepancy in the academic dominance of certain groups over other groups is strongly associated with socio-economic status, with lower achieving students typically hailing from increased poverty-stricken backgrounds. While poverty is exclusive to no one particular ethnicity, it exists in disproportionately high rates among Hispanic and Black communities and their students. The root of this gap in educational achievement has been shown to be multi-faceted, with origins undoubtedly dating back centuries (EdSource, 2003).
Many efforts have been made to bridge this gap between these various groups. Endeavors like teacher incentive programs, alternative route programs, the No Child Left Behind Act provide examples of attempts to increase quality educational opportunities offered to individuals from underprivileged communities. In attempt to reach out specifically to the African American community, an array of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) has been founded nationwide. For years, these institutions have been a great source of pride and accomplishment for the black community and the nation in the effort to close the achievement gap.
Passed in 1965, the Higher Education Act defines a Historically Black College as “an historically black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans, and that is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency of association determined by the Secretary of Education to be a reliable authority as to the quality of training offered or is, according to such an agency or association, making reasonable progress toward accreditation.” Characteristics of these institutions vary widely. The nation’s 105 HBCUs are located in 20 states Washington, D.C., and the Virgin Islands, with most concentrated in the Southeastern states. These institutions include a variety of two and four-year, public and private colleges, located in both urban and rural areas. Other attributes that also vary greatly include size and admission selectivity (LaVeist, 2003).
While Historically Black Colleges and Universities were established specifically to serve Black students, these learning institutions offer opportunities and resources to all students, regardless of race. Young people trained at such institutions go on to serve both domestically and internationally in a multitude of professions as entrepreneurs and in both public and private sectors. Although they constitute only 3 percent of America’s 4,084 institutions of higher education, these institutions enroll 14 percent of all Black students in higher education. In 1999, HBCUs matriculated 24 percent of all Black students enrolled in...