Frederick Price High stands alone academically, athletically
Part of Crenshaw Christian Center, it may be one of the best-kept secrets

A young man wanted to transfer to Frederick K.C. Price III School (FKCP) from a high school in Long Beach. An 11th-grader, he had been warned by his former school that he probably would not graduate because of his low academic scores.

Having languished in remedial and basic classes throughout his high school career, he was also told to give up the hope of getting into a four-year institution.

Further, as an aspiring athlete, he was advised that he did not have the talent to play football at either the junior varsity or varsity level.

The young potential transfer was crushed. He had come from a home where his biological father had pretty much disowned him and his stepfather had all but ignored him.

He was broken spiritually, mentally, emotionally and socially.

“I interviewed him,” said Madeline Butler, who heads academic and counseling services at Crenshaw Christian Center’s Price High, “and looking at the courses he had taken I knew it would be a difficult task to get him into a four-year school, but I went ahead and accepted him as a student.”

Why?

“Because when we interview students we are not just looking at the black and white,” she said. “If you have a 3.4 or 3.5 gpa you’re going to make it pretty much anywhere. But we believe in looking at the spiritual side.

“I was led to give this young man an opportunity to help him make a change in his life. I had to begin to set his courses in order to get him into college. He had to make up courses, repeat courses, begin taking college prep courses and maintain a competitive gpa.

“Because Price is on the quarter system it was possible,” Butler said. “On the quarter system students are able to take more courses or repeat courses they have not been successful in. This allowed me to set up an education plan for him to make sure he graduated and transitioned into a four-year institution.

“He began the educational plan, and joined the football team,” she said. “He was passionate about football. He began to get mentored by his teachers; they saw the effort. The male staff learned about the situation with his father and stepfather, and they began to take him under their wings.

“He didn’t truly know God, but for the next two years this young man grew spiritually, developing a relationship with the Lord. He was successful at making up courses and taking rigorous college prep courses. He made the honor roll, which is something he had never done before. He began to perform well athletically, and at the end of his 12th-grade year, he not only graduated but was accepted into several four-year institutions. Among them were some California State schools and some private schools.”

“FKCP is a true college preparatory school,” said Butler. “We’re here to educate the whole student. We have true college prep courses and a step-by-step hands-on curriculum. College preparation means you’re getting prepared to be accepted at a four-year institution, not just AP courses and honors courses.”

“If you come here we will help you get into a Division 1 school,”she said.

Some Price students had little choice but to attend the school. They were practically born into it, having attended the church, Crenshaw Christian Center, along with their parents. Such was the case with Kristian Cloyd (class of 2006), who went from the nursery through high school and graduated in 2010 from UC Irvine. “It was definitely a family-type experience, starting in 1993 and being ‘born’ in the church,” said Cloyd, who now works at Price as a development coordinator.

Lynessa Williams, 23, currently working on a master’s in media studies at Syracuse University in New York agrees. She had been at Price so long “it felt like family.” She started in the nursery and, like Cloyd, remained through high school. She graduated in 2006 and received her bachelor’s from Chico State in Northern California.

High school tuition runs $6,402 a year and the school offers an assistance program. Last year’s high school enrollment was about 75 students. From elementary through high school enrollment hovers around 150. The outstanding part is that 98 percent of Price graduates go on to four-year schools.

Over its 26-year life, FKCP has had numerous scholarship recipients: Breana Weaver (2011) to UCLA, Lauren Mathews (2005) to Stanford, Serena Nelson (2008) to Dartmouth, Jermaine Jamison (2001) to Fresno State on a combined academic-athletic scholarship in football. Jamison would eventually play briefly in the NFL. The school has racked up more than $900,000 in academic and athletic scholarships.

Last year, the makeup at Price was 80 percent African American, 9 percent Asian Pacific Islander, but with enrollment still open Cloyd believes it should have a strong Latino enrollment.

Price High is a Division 5 school, but because its basketball team is so good it is ranked as a Division 3AA program. Overall, Price has a remarkable number of athletes who have received four-year scholarships.

For example, over the last 16 years the basketball team has produced 20 scholarship players, six currently enrolled at such schools as UC Berkeley (Allen Crabbe and Richard Solomon), University of Washington (Tyreese Brasher), Montana State (Casey Trujeque), St. John’s University (Norvel Pelle) and (University of Colorado) Askia Booker.

“We have in our senior class no less than three more that will be getting scholarships this year,” said boy’s basketbal coach Michael Lynch.

Cal Berkeley students Solomon and Crabbe are projected to be the first Price athletes to crack the ranks of the NBA.

FKCP also has teams in girls basketball, volleyball, football, track and softball, said Michael Jackson, athletic director. In 2009, its eight-man football team made the playoffs and four members of that team were awarded athletic scholarships. However, Jackson admitted that the football team was not as dominant as the basketball team.

Although FKCP would seem to have a lot to crow about as a learning institution, it rarely does. In fact, Price is considered by many to be one of the best-kept academic secrets around. With a total enrollment of around 150 in K through 12, Butler said the school could easily grow to 250 students “and still be comfortable.”

In spite of excellence of some Christian schools, the economy and the spread of free charter schools, has severely cut into their enrollment.

Christian schools in the Antelope Valley have also fallen on hard times.

Diana Andre, director of admissions at Desert Christian School in Lancaster, said enrollment had been dropping there for the past five years, and some former students are now attending public schools, charter schools or being home-schooled.

“Some parents aren’t that happy with it, but they are doing it anyway because of the economy,” said Andre. Last year the school instituted an “across-the-board pay cut,” with staff taking the biggest hit.

Charles Miller, pastor and administrator at Westside Christian School in Palmdale, said the economy affected Westside this year in slow registration.

“It really slowed down the registration this year. Last year it was a pretty easy decision whether or not they could afford it.”

Miller said he had to move some staff around and “I had some retire. That made it easy for me not to have to cut too much–just don’t replace who retired.”

In Los Angeles, FKCP may be the only non-Catholic Christian school of any size still standing. Among the churches that have closed their schools are West Angeles, First Church of God and South Bay Lutheran among others. A few of their students have transferred to Price.

“We have taken their students and continued to give them a Christian education,” said Butler
“I wish more people would take advantage of it,” said Angela Evans, co-founder of the school along with her parents Apostle Fred and Dr. Betty Price. “I am extraordinarily proud of what we have accomplished. It had a great deal of trials and tribulations, but we’re at a really good place, where we’ve kinda leveled off. I have a great principal in place, a great staff and we’re constantly adding new things to enhance the program.

“We’ve just added an engineering program and we have advanced placement English. We have an awesomely well-rounded program, well-rounded sports program, and clubs. We’re training these young people to be awesome contributing members of society.”

Stephen Barrios (1999), who graduated from USC in 2004 with a degree in computer science, wrote this in a note to the school:

“It is difficult to put into a limited number of words what going to FKCP III and the Ed McMahon scholarship meant in my life. My mom always worked hard to provide me a solid private Christian education. The time directly after eighth grade was difficult for my family and my mom’s dream of sending me to a private high school appeared bleak at the time. Getting into Price and better yet on scholarship was an immense blessing from God and has paid dividend after dividend. The environment was safe, wholesome, and provided diverse opportunities for me to grow, learn, and thrive. I am forever grateful to Fred and Betty Price, the McMahons, Mrs. White, Coach Lynch, Mr. Taylor, Dr. Chyi, and so many more who played a part in those oh so critical years of my development.”

Public School Choice: one way to tackle a complicated problem

LAUSD efforts to reform low-performing schools frustrates and puzzles some

By Cynthia E. Griffin
OW Managing Editor

While officials at most public schools in South Los Angeles are busy preparing for the new academic year to begin next week, there are a handful of campuses that are doing that, as well as worrying about and working to preserve their schools.

Called “low-performing” by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), West Athens, Manhattan, LaSalle and Woodcrest elementary schools, along with Dorsey and Washington Prep high schools, face an uncertain future. They are among 22 existing (or so-called focus schools) deemed eligible for Public School Choice 3.0 (PSC).

The Public School Choice motion, approved by the LAUSD school board in 2009, is one of the district’s answers to the dilemma of continuously low-performing schools. It was designed to tap into the potential wealth of innovative ideas and educational models that will help the district advance its commitment to provide a quality education for students. This is one of the options being used to ensure that all schools provide students with a high-quality education.

Educational organizations, including parents, teachers and administrators are all allowed to submit proposals to operate the campuses.

The focus schools included in the PSC process met the following criteria:

* Identification as a program-improvement school for at least three years under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. This means school test scores did not hit targets.

* An Academic Performance Index (API) score of less than 650; the state goal is 800.

* Gained less than 100 net points in API score across the last five years.

* 30 percent or fewer students scoring proficient or advanced on the California Standards Tests in English Language Arts (ELA) or math.

* Less than 10 percentage point increase in students reaching proficient in ELA or math.

* Less than 10 percentage points moving out of Far Below Basic or Below Basic in ELA or math.

* Less than 10 percent of any subgroup, i.e. African American, English Language Learners, moved to proficiency on the standards tests.

* Did not meet Adequate Yearly Progress criteria in 2010; and

* Greater than 10 percent dropout four-year rate or less than 80 percent graduation rate across four years (for high schools).

Those who submitted letters of intent to submit a plan to operate the school are required to turn in their proposal by Oct. 14. The plans are then vetted by district officials and recommendations are made to and by the superintendent. The school board is slated to vote on a selection in January.

While the process sounds simple, it is not. Parents, teachers, students and other stakeholders are to somehow be allowed to participate in developing proposals, but sometimes that does not happen.

One of the first breakdowns is to make sure that everyone is aware of exactly what is happening. That was a sore point for Sandra Davis, parent of a fourth-grader at Manhattan Elementary.

“I volunteer at the school at least two times a week all day . . . but no one notified me that the LAUSD would be there at the school to talk about Public School Choice,” said Davis, who added that only four parents showed up–one Black and three Hispanics.

Davis was among a group of parents, teachers and other stakeholders who on Tuesday took buses from South L.A. to the school board downtown to voice their concern about being left out of the school choice process.

In addition to parents being left out of the discussion at their respective schools, some teachers have been left out of the loop as well.

Peggy Coulehan, a first-grade teacher at Woodcrest Elementary for the past 10 years also took the bus into downtown, and she too, was only marginally aware of how the PSC process works.

“I believe they are able to replace the whole school site without parent or teacher input,” said Coulehan.

The lack of effort to totally elicit parental or teacher input, and in some cases ignoring what those in the trenches at the schools had to say, is what prompted many people to board the buses to downtown.

Eva F. Holmes, a veteran South L.A. education activist and advocate and community liaison for the Southwest Los Angeles area, was one of those involved in an effort to craft a reform plan for Clay Middle School under PSC 2.0 in 2010, and was frustrated by the school board’s action of awarding the operation of the campus to charter school operator Green Dot, despite the fact that the former LAUSD superintendent recommended the school groups’ plan as at least a partial remedy.

“We need to save traditional public schools so that when Green Dot and other charter organizations do not want to teach our children, they have some place to go,” said Holmes bluntly from her perspective of more than 40 years advocating for public education in South Los Angeles.

“They’re not going to take all our children, so we must hold on to some public schools,” said Holmes with conviction.

Talking to those at low-performing schools, some common themes emerge, and one is something new superintendent John Deasy alluded to during his beginning-of-school address on Aug. 24. He pledged to ensure that school officials had the resources and support needed to succeed.

Holmes has been connected to Clay Middle School for decades, and actually moved her family into the area in the 1960s, when the school was predominantly Asian, and Black parents had to obtain a permit to enroll their children.

“I went to a meeting at the school at the time, because I wanted to get to know the teachers before my kids enrolled, and they were discussing the changing demographics. They said the children coming in are not going to be able to meet our standards, so we’re going to have to lower the standards.”

Holmes said that attitude prompted her and some of the other African American parents living in the area surrounding Clay not to send their children to the school.

Woodcrest teacher Coulehan says her school has been a low-performing campus for nearly 30 years and attributes the cause to a complicated combination of reasons–an administrative staff that blames teachers, teachers who say more parent involvement is needed, a previous lack of standardization in how to teach subjects, unequal distribution of resources within the school that created internal jealousies and too much to teach in a too-short school day.

At Manhattan Place Elementary, volunteer parent Davis said her school lacks simple yet vital resources such as a librarian to staff the library and teaching assistants to provide special education teachers the time to give students one-on-one instruction.

At Dorsey High, newly installed principal Reginald Sample finds himself grappling with challenges that are beyond his control.

And then there are those district-controlled challenges and administrative changes for example. Since 1997, Manhattan Place has had four principals, but according to one teacher who left the school partially in frustration two years ago, the administrative leadership was inconsistent and allowed teachers who did a poor job of educating students to continue teaching. Coulehan said she is working under the third principal in 10 years.

There are also environmental challenges such as the violence around Woodcrest that once forced the school to remain on lockdown for hours and meant Coulehan did not get home until midnight.

There are also emotional challenges as well, such as parents (particularly African Americans) whose children could use the extra help given special-education children refusing to allow their child to be identified as something they fear will stigmatize them for the rest of their academic lives.

Like Clay and so many schools in South L.A., Sample said Dorsey’s student population has a high percentage of youth in foster care.

“To be perfectly honest and not to make excuses . . . many of the kids who come to us are already behind grade level,” explained Sample, who has been at the once academically thriving campus only a year.

In addition to lagging educationally, Sample said there are psychological and emotional needs that have to be met for children who are trying to cope with the stigma and challenge of being in a family torn apart.

“We do intervention,” said Sample, also noting that this is an example of the additional challenges schools like Dorsey have faced for years.

Other more recent ones include the need to teach limited English-speaking high school students academics at the same time they’re learning English; and lack of resources, particularly in the last few years.

“In the past year, I lost two administrators and 15 teachers . . . the budget doesn’t support certain classes, and we don’t have the fiscal and financial resources,” Sample said. “If you look at it from a holistic standpoint, anybody can pull data and look at the scores and say they’re bad, until they come and spend a week on campus to see for themselves some of the challenges inner-city schools face.”

Yet despite all the obstacles, Sample says math test scores jumped 13 percent last year and the graduation rate has risen to 33 percent.”

But the future for his school and the others on the PSC list depend entirely on how well they craft a plan that will convince a skeptical board of education that despite the years of opportunity the staffs in place have had to better educate students, they can do a good job now.

Engineering a change
African American students are avoiding engineering careers and the lucrative pay. Some groups are trying to steer them into the field.

By Ismail Muhammad
OW Contributor

Itanza Lawrence, a rising senior at Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science and a Los Angeles native, is a successful student by any measure.

After transferring from UC Irvine in her sophomore year, she began studying both mechanical engineering and premed courses, and excelled in her studies. She is also active in student life: she sat on the executive board of the National Society of Black Engineers, Columbia chapter, and served as program chair in her junior year. This summer, she interned at the Clorox Co. in Pleasanton, Calif. She is poised to graduate in the coming school year and move on to a successful career.

Unfortunately, a recent study at Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce reveals that she is among a minority of African American college students taking advantage of the opportunity to study engineering.

Titled “What’s It Worth?” the Georgetown study looks at the income a college graduate can expect based on what they studied in school. It confirmed what has been clear to college students for some time now: students who are STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) majors see the strongest financial returns for their efforts. Petroleum engineering majors have median earnings of $120,000 a year and mechanical engineering students like Lawrence can expect median earnings of $80,000. Indeed, eight of the top 10 highest earning majors are engineering fields.

However, African American students are not entering those lucrative fields at the same pace as their non-Black peers. Instead, they tend to cluster in more service-oriented fields. The study determined that African American students gravitate toward majors like community organization, counseling psychology and public health. The top 10 majors among African American students do not include a single engineering major. While service-oriented studies are admirable, they do not translate into the same earnings as an engineering degree.

Meanwhile, the statistics suggest that students of other minority groups have gotten the memo. Hispanic students comprise 22 percent of biological engineering majors and 14 percent of industrial engineering students. Asians are 33 percent of computer engineering majors and 22 percent of electrical engineering students. In comparison, African American students comprise only 4 percent of computer engineering, 6 percent of electrical engineering, 3 percent of biological engineering, and 5 percent of industrial engineering majors.

What might account for the gaps between African American students and other minority groups when it comes to engineering?

Jeff Strohl, Ph.D., director of research at the Center on Education and the Workforce and one of the study’s authors, says that although the “What’s It Worth” report did not look into causes, there is evidence to suggest that certain dynamics are at work.

“It’s a mishmash of possible reasons,” Strohl said. He identified several interrelated factors that might contribute to the paucity of African American engineering students. They include a lack of minority engineering role models, weak support mechanisms compared to those of other students, and the fact that many African American students come from low-income backgrounds.

“The evidence does show that among the African American population, many are first-generation college students and don’t have the same set of role models and support mechanisms to get through school and set goals in parallel with their abilities,” said Strohl.

The problem is complicated by the fact that it is still difficult to find minority faculty in engineering departments across the country.

“There are not a lot of African Americans in those departments, so the students coming in don’t find the support structures that other students might,” said Strohl. “If you go to college and none of them look like you or have the same experiences as you, it’s hard to stick with it because you stick out like a sore thumb.”

The dearth of African American role models is indicative of a larger problem: the high ratio of high school counselors to students in low-income areas creates situations where counselors are unable to give proper advice on lucrative majors. The relative absence of such supports when compared to other races results in poor preparation, which in turn makes students averse to challenging STEM majors. Strohl identifies this phenomenon as “undershooting,” and it is an effect which touches African American students regardless of economic status.

“The undershooting phenomenon is highly correlated by race,” he said. “That ends up impacting education outcomes. If we look at the equally prepared Black and White students of the same social class, I’m going to guess that there are more mechanisms that are going to encourage the White students to go into STEM majors than there are for African American students.”

Lawrence echoed that sentiment. She says that while other students have support mechanisms to provide them with encouragement and resources to prepare them for success when they reach college, those systems are not completely in place for Black students.

“People who do it have that positive encouragement, and people who don’t think they can never accomplish it,” she said. “It’s part of a mental stigma, and the fact that there aren’t that many of us doing it reinforces that.”

“We have less of a support system for stuff like that,” she added. “I never had that. We never had money to pay for stuff like that. It’s the lack of preparation and resources to gain that preparation.”

That lack of preparation, which is often tied to economic status, discourages students who might otherwise study engineering. As Strohl points out, African American students who do demonstrate an aptitude for mathematics don’t go into STEM majors.

“They come in with good mathematics skills and end up moving into other fields,” he said. He acknowledges that some of that movement may be due to interests in fields such as law and medicine, but posits that the lack of preparation associated with low-income students definitely results in the underestimation of one’s academic abilities.

Thus, when given a choice between a selective university and less rigorous study, “[black students] tend toward a two-year degree. If given an array of majors, they choose the ones that they’ve been told they will succeed at rather than ones that they might succeed at,” said Strohl.

Education advocates on the front lines of promoting college education among disadvantaged students identify other problems.

Randy Winston is president of Student Services for South Central Scholars, a Los Angeles-based organization that provides scholarships, internships, and mentoring services to underprivileged college and college-bound students. Though he agrees that a lack of role models and support systems plays a role, he also lays the blame at the feet of an under-resourced public education system.

“Systemically, it has to fall on the low preparation that they’re receiving at local schools,” he said. “Children are not challenged to pursue those studies and think that they can’t make it in those fields because it’s too challenging.”

“Inner city schools are resource poor, so how can they compete? It’s like asking someone to perform brain surgery with no training.”

Winston believes that the Los Angeles Unified School District’s failure to provide Black students with the skills to succeed in STEM majors is indicative of a more general failure. Put simply, the school district is not preparing our children to compete in the new economy.

“It’s not getting better, it’s getting worse,” Winston said of graduation rates for young African American students. “We’re regressing. Those numbers were higher when I was in college. It behooves us to identify those individuals with the aptitude and to push them to the very edge of their abilities.”

This failure handicaps African American students and prevents them from being competitive in STEM majors when compared to other ethnicities, notes Patricia Rillera, the executive director of Young Black Scholars, a Los Angeles-based college preparatory organization. African American students are at a disadvantage in college because they do not have the opportunity to take challenging math classes such as calculus during high school.

“Our students tend not to be as competitive as some of our other students in the math and sciences,” said Rillera. “They don’t tend to take the higher level courses. When an admissions person brings you into a campus, and as you progress, it makes a difference. Because of that, they may not as competitive. It’s about where they’re starting from.”

Of course, African American students tend to start from disadvantaged positions due to their economic status. This can have a detrimental impact on not only their college studies, but their careers. Their academic histories follow them even if they graduate with degrees in engineering and go into professional work. After all, the study also shows that median earnings for African American engineers is below the medians of Asian and White engineers. Rillera believes that has something to do with math skills.

“If you get our kids to major in those fields, their math levels are below others and they aren’t as prepared as others,” she said. “So when they graduate, they may have a bit of a learning curve, and academically they may not be as competitive as some of the other students corporations are pulling from.”

Obviously, there is a dense patchwork of causes contributing to African American students’ failure to study STEM majors. However, that academic pattern could be shifting. If we look beyond the data toward efforts to encourage Black students to study STEM fields and support those who choose engineering majors, there is reason to think that the future will be different.

It is important to note that the study looks at data over entire life cycles, meaning that it aggregates data on both older African Americans who have been out of school for decades and younger people who have graduated recently. Therefore, it obscures potential patterns that may be taking hold among younger graduates and current students.

“We might be seeing some age effects,” Strohl said of the data. “The concentration [in service-oriented majors] could be an older generation more concerned with public service, but we might be seeing a switchover. If you look past the groundbreakers, I would guess that a lot of the younger generation might be switching over into engineering and higher degrees.”

Depending upon the prism through which one views the situation, Strohl’s assessment will be either wishful thinking or an acknowledgment of the strides African American college students are making.

The statistical data only partly bears out, and, in some cases, even contradicts his conclusion. Looking at graduates of ages 25-35 separately from graduates of ages 35-45, engineering majors are not in the top 10 majors for either cohort. That seemingly disproves the notion that the lack of African American engineering majors is due to “age effects.” Engineering majors aren’t in the top 10 majors for Black females of either cohort. Electrical engineering is popular among African Americans. However, there is a higher ratio of African American electrical engineers among the 35-45 cohort (0.7 percent of all electrical engineering majors) than among the 25-35 cohort (0.6 percent). Furthermore, the general engineering major is in the top 10 popular majors for Black male graduates age 35-45, but not age 25-35. It would seem that younger graduates don’t tend toward engineering any more than older graduates do.

However, it is in talking with current engineering students and those on the front lines of education advocacy that different patterns begin to reveal themselves.

Calvin Phelps is a graduate student studying mechanical engineering at Cornell University. He is also the executive director of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), a national, student-governed college engineering organization whose stated goal is to “increase the number of culturally responsibleAfrican American engineers who excel.” He says that the lack of African American engineers in school is unfortunately common. His organization is taking momentous steps to combat that reality, though.

“The organization was founded and is run by college students,” he said. “They looked around at their universities and said, we need to figure out a way to band together and make sure we make it through.”

This determination to support African American engineering students and help them “make it through” informs NSBE’s various initiatives. These efforts range from college initiatives to give students communities in which they can communicate, commiserate, and challenge themselves to ever higher levels of success, on down to programs at the elementary-school level that get children interested in mathematics.

Take the college retention program, for instance. Phelps says that the program’s purpose is not just to help African American students pass their classes, but shine in them. It consists of things like weekly tutoring and study groups where members collaborate twice a week.

“The idea is to create collaborative learning environments,” he said. “You will never work by yourself as an engineer. That’s just how it’s done. Once you encourage students and create an environment in which they can prepare together, you see tremendously higher retention rates.”

Itanza Lawrence credits the retention program with giving her a support network that enables her to succeed as an engineering student.

“There are people who look like you and support you,” she said. “It’s a great experience. I can relate to other members and where they come from. Before I got to Columbia, there weren’t people who I could study with, but with that, it encourages you to stick together and push each other.”

NSBE also attempts to expand the ranks of African American engineering students through early intervention. The SEEK program, which Phelps characterizes as NSBE’s flagship initiative, is an effort to intervene in the lives of African American elementary school students and prevent the development of the mathematics achievement gap that appears between African American children and other students.

“Black students perform at parity with their peers up until about third grade,” said Phelps. “Then you begin to see an achievement gap in math and science. After that, students say they no longer like math, and if you don’t like math, you probably won’t be successful as an engineering student or a practicing engineer.”

SEEK’s purpose is to head off the achievement gap by showing children that math and science can be interesting and exciting.

“NSBE is inserting itself into that process where in the third grade you see the achievement gap,” Phelps said of the program.. “We’re saying to students, you know what, math and science are actually really cool, and here are some of the hands-on things you can do with it

“Once kids get excited about it, they are willing to put in the work and get involved in the engineering field. Getting involved in the early age is so critical, and that’s why this is our flagship program. We say, it’s hard, but you’re intelligent and you can do it. It’s also a lot of fun.”

Through initiatives like the retention program and SEEK, NSBE is evidence that Strohl’s conclusion may be correct. A younger generation of African American students is building efforts that could alter the seemingly insurmountable challenge outlined in “What’s It Worth.” With time, the future could look very different.

Randy Winston agrees.

“Right now, our students aren’t ready for primetime,” he said. “But over time, they will be, and those who are ready are doing well. It’s a matter of how determined you are to succeed.”