WASHINGTON — In a speech at the U.S. Department of Education, William Jeynes, a senior fellow at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton and a Harvard graduate, presented data from a recent major study on raising African American student achievement. The study was a meta-analysis, which is a very highly regarded statistical approach. This is because a meta-analysis statistically combines all of the studies that have ever been done on a particular topic. The findings indicated that African American parental involvement is a particularly strong means of raising the educational outcomes of their children and that these youth responded particularly well to love, as expressed by their parents and teachers.
Dr. Jeynes stated that these results suggest that there are a number of strengths apparent in African American families that society would be wise to emphasize. He noted that educators often complain that black caregivers are frequently not strong in practicing the components of engagement that are most tangible from the perspectives of teachers. However, Dr. Jeynes shared that, “African American parents are quite adept at practicing the subtler aspects of parental involvement. These including having high but reasonable expectations of their young, having frequent positive communication with their children, and having a parental style that is high in both love and providing structure.”
Dr. Jeynes also asserted, “One unique strength of parental involvement, as expressed by African Americans, is that unlike any other ethnic group, the effects of that engagement did not decline as their children became older. This is unusual and reflects the fact that the subtler kinds of parental participation are most effective when youth are older and these are the areas of involvement in which African American mothers and fathers especially excel.”
The findings of this study highlight some of the strengths of what African American parents and Jeynes added that, “This should be our emphasis and where we should begin.” He noted that in other studies another strength of African Americans is that they tend to be the most religious ethnic group in the U.S. Jeynes observed that, “When highly religious African Americans are compared to white students, the achievement gap is cut in half.” “In addition,” he asserted, “African American parents become more involved, when they sensed that school teachers and staff love them.”