Portland High School Boasts of Majority Black AP Calculus Class
Class proves that black kids can excel when given the chance
This past February a College Board study revealed that many black students who could be excelling in school weren't, simply because they were not motivated or encouraged to do so.
The findings showed that out of the 771,000 PSAT-takers in the class of 2011, over 60% of them did not take an AP exam even though their test scores indicated they could do well on one. When it came down to black students, 80% of whose scores indicated that they could have done well in AP classes never enrolled in them. In the class of 2011 only 9 percent of AP exam-takers were black.
GOOD's Education Editor wrote a piece on the matter, sharing her own personal experience of being the only black kid taking AP courses at her school:
My teachers never explicitly explained the AP process to everyone, but I recall them encouraging individual students and giving them exam study tips. I was not one of those students. I was also the only black student in my senior class enrolled in any AP courses.
Indeed, when I asked my AP English teacher if I should sign up to take the AP exam, he told me that it was an unnecessary test, and it was really expensive. It puzzled me that other students were so focused on taking it, but since I didn't need to take it and none of my friends were taking it, I didn't sign up. Now I know how lucky I was to even have access to AP courses. Many students of color don't have AP classes offered at their high schools -- they can't take the classes even if they want to, let alone the exams.
Reminds you of that scene in Malcolm X when the teacher encouraged him to be carpenter instead of a lawyer, doesn't it?
Well, there is at least one school encouraging black students to excel. Portland, Oregon's De La Salle North Catholic High School boasts AP classes where two-thirds of its students are black.
In a report by the OregonLive.com, the small 600-student school shows black students solving calculus equations and even challenging the teacher, an image that is hard to conjure given the frequent reports of black kids failing in school and in turn, schools failing black students just the same.
Check out the clip below to see it in action.