“As far as the transition from high school to college, nobody in my family went to college. All of it is foreign. I couldn’t look to anyone for advice,” said Nate, one of the young men of color interviewed for The Education Trust-West’s new report, “Hear My Voice: Strengthening the College Pipeline for Young Men of Color in California.”
The first advocacy report to examine the intersection of gender, race, and equity in California, “Hear My Voice” follows Ed Trust-West’s widely recognized 2015 report, “Black Minds Matter.”
“Black Minds Matter,” which came to life when 1,000 California students and parents marched from the California Department of Education to the state capitol in 2015, served as a rallying cry for legislators, superintendents, educators, families, and students. The report was the catalyst for state and local conversations hosted by groups like the California Legislative Black Caucus and local meetings like this one, including the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Educators across the state also championed the report—many still requesting copies more than a year later.
“After ‘Black Minds Matter’ the more we talked about the gaps students face and how to address them, the more we realized the need to focus on the intersection between race and gender,” Jelena Hasbrouck, assistant communications director at Ed Trust-West, said.
“The way that students experience their lives is based on both.”
However, the team found little disaggregated data for California students, begging the question: how does the student experience differ by race and gender?
Researchers at Ed Trust-West began digging into the data that did exist. Almost one of every three K-12 public school students in California is a boy or young man of color; however, currently only 76 percent of Latino boys and 67 percent of Black boys graduate from high school.
Closer examination revealed the systemic obstacles that drive these results. Ed Trust-West reports that boys and young men of color are:
- more likely than their peers to attend schools lacking basic resources (science labs, extracurricular programs, counselors, and health services),
- less likely to be enrolled in college prep courses, even when they are at schools that offer them, and
- more likely to be suspended and expelled.
To uncover the best practices of institutions producing better results, Ed Trust-West conducted interviews and site visits at high schools, community colleges, and four-year universities with higher than average academic outcomes for young men of color.
“What we heard drove this report.”
“Too often the way that people tell a student’s story is more about the person writing the story and less about the person living it,” Hasbrouck said.
Using student voices to drive the narrative, this report focuses on academic supports and practices that are helping young men of color succeed at higher rates. Coupled with existing research, they offer dozens of recommendations for K-12 school leaders, postsecondary school leaders, and state policymakers about additional supports and services that can help boys and young men of color succeed.
In a recent article, Ed Trust-West Executive Director Ryan Smith said, “In the report there’s a theme around how the students perceive themselves—they see themselves as scholars. Now it’s up to us to see them as scholars as well.”
Similar to “Black Minds Matter,” “Hear My Voice” is designed as a rallying cry—more timely than ever—pushing educators, policymakers, and ed reformers to think differently about policy and how to implement it. The Ed Trust-West team plans to keep the drumbeat alive and expand their audience through targeted digital campaigns, setting the stage for this report to be even more influential with time.
Their advice for other advocates considering a similar strategy:
“Listen. Wherever you are, there are students that have thoughts on how things are going,”
If you’re interested in reaching out to the Ed Trust-West team to learn more about the research, design, and promotions of this report, let us know. You can read the full report and complete recommendations here.