Theses Doctoral

Creating a Culture of the Deserving: African American Students’ Experiences in Minority Recruitment Programs

Meyers, Makila Samia

High-achieving African American students are not immune to the issues that underlie racial inequalities in school achievement. There is much to learn from these students in terms of how they navigate schools and achieve according to conventional standards. Further, serious questions remain about the social and racial costs to being constructed as high-achieving against broader narratives of African American students as deficient. This qualitative inquiry uses participant interviews and document analysis to explore the Discourses on achievement and leadership produced by minority recruitment programs and the students who participate in them. Specifically, the research uses critical discourse tools to look at the narratives produced both by African American students and by (and through) program documents. It seeks to understanding where these narratives converge and where there might be tension. This research is conducted by incorporating a socio-cultural literacy and critical race theory framework.

This dissertation study is at the intersection of equity and access; it problematizes progressive arguments against a segregated curriculum for high-achieving students by invoking a social justice argument in favor of leveling the playing field for traditionally marginalized students, specifically African Americans. Much of the existing literature on high achievement and African Americans takes place in traditional classrooms. Glaringly absent from the literature on achievement are the ways in which some high-performing students of color are positioned to succeed in competitive, non-school environments. Specifically, I look at minority recruitment programs because these programs teach a particular type of literacy. The study explores the degree to which students’ home literacies are being honored.

Findings indicate that students’ perspectives on achievement were much more critical than those of the programs with students overtly challenging meritocracy. Students were less critical of leadership, and both programs and students offered views that privileged particular literacies of leadership. The researcher offers recommendations for MRPs that calls for programs to involve students in more critical inquiries through the use of a Critical Race English education lens.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Curriculum and Teaching
Thesis Advisors
Paula Ghiso, Maria Paula
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 5, 2018