Gathering Grapples with Minority Male Drop Out Situation
The standing-room-only crowd, numbering nearly 300 in attendance, in Houston Community College’s West Loop Center auditorium March 31 had arrived with a purpose. That purpose: to address the staggering high school dropout rate and diminishing presence of Hispanic and African-American males on college campuses.
Dr. Michael P. Williams, chairman of the HCC Board of Trustees and also chairman of HCC’s Minority Male Initiative, said the College hosted the event “in order to bring together local academic, government, corporate and community leaders to discuss how we, as a community, can change the education culture of the African-American and Hispanic youth of the greater Houston area.”
“We want to explore the ways in which we may encourage, assist and mentor young minority males to complete their high school education and to go on to institutions of higher learning,” he said, adding: “This objective is imperative to the growth of our community, not only economically, but as a society as well. The education of minority young men, a formidable portion of the population, is essential to their full participation in a stable and prosperous society.”
The forum opened with some somber statistics from the Justice Policy Institute, Northwestern University and HCC’s Institutional Research Department: Today, we live in an America where we have more minority males, ages 16 to 24, in jail, prison or a juvenile justice institution than in institutions of higher education.
· 1980 – 143,000 black men in prison and 463,700 enrolled in college.
· 2000 – 791,600 black men in prison and 603,032 enrolled in college.
· 2002 – Black men in prison grew to five times the rate it was 20 years ago.
The centerpiece of the event was a panel discussion, moderated by KPRC’s Jerome Gray, followed by a Question and Answer session from the audience. Panelists included: Ed Apodaca, Vice President for Student Services and Enrollment Management, University of Houston –Downtown; Dr. Frazier Wilson, Vice President/Manager, Shell Oil Company Foundation/Social Investment; Mark Williams, President, 100 Black Men Houston Chapter Inc.; Dr. Ron Brown, Interim Vice Chancellor Student Success, Lone Star College; Dr. Tatcho Mindiola, Jr., The Center for Mexican American Studies (CMAS), University of Houston; Roynell Young, Founder & CEO, ProVision Middle School.
“Our goals for the forum included developing a community network to collectively address the educational issues of our region,” noted Dr. Charles Hebert, coordinator of HCC’s Minority Male Initiative and Special Assistant to the Deputy Chancellor.
“While we certainly did not solve every problem, I believe the forum was a large first step forward,” he added. “We hope this cooperative endeavor will serve as an information source for other educational, corporate and community leaders in the area.”
HCC is one of the country’s largest singularly-accredited, open-admission, community colleges offering associate degrees, certificates, workforce training and lifelong learning opportunities for 65,000 students each semester. HCC is composed of six colleges that serve the greater Houston area’s diverse communities by preparing individuals to live and work in today’s increasingly international and technological society. To learn more go to hccs.edu.