Young, Gifted, and Black

Young, Gifted, and Black

Theresa Perry, Claude Steele,
and Asa Hilliard


Promoting High Achievement among African-American Students

Three African-American intellectuals on a crucial educational issue of our time

A huge portion of the school reform debate in America-explicitly and implicitly—is framed around the success and failure of African-American children in school. The test-score “achievement gap” between white and black students, especially, is a driving and divisive issue. Yet the voices of prominent African-American intellectuals have been conspicuously left out of the debate about black children.

Young, Gifted, and Black sets out to reframe the terms of that debate. The authors argue that understanding how children experience the struggle of being black in America is essential to improving how schools serve them.

Taking on liberals and conservatives alike, Theresa Perry argues that all kinds of contemporary school settings systematically undermine motivation and achievement for black students. She draws on history, narrative, and research to outline an African-American tradition of education for liberation and to suggest what kinds of settings black children need most. Claude Steele reports stunningly clear empirical psychological evidence that when black students believe they are being judged as members of a stereotyped group rather than as individuals, they do worse on tests. He calls the mechanism at work “stereotype threat,” and reflects on its broad implications for schools. Asa Hilliard ends the book with an essay on actual schools around the country where African-American students achieve at high levels.

Theresa Perry is professor of education at Wheelock College in Boston and coeditor of The Real Ebonics Debate (Beacon / 3145-3 / $14.00 pb). Claude Steele is professor of psychology at Stanford University in Palo Alto California. Asa Hilliard is professor of education at Georgia State University in Atlanta.

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