Research Question: How have African American Educators Saved My City?
Relevance: Over the past decade the New Haven Public Schools have been hiring more African American workers to be placed in the schools. Whether it consists of giving administrative positions to African Americans or hiring black athletic coaches, there is a noticeable difference in the increase in high school graduation rate and a decrease in murder rate. For long New Haven has been known as the “murder capital” of Connecticut and at one point was considered one of the most dangerous cities to live in throughout the entire country. Personally, I have always felt safe being a resident in the inner city, however there are some who have the fear of being shot at on the way to school in the morning. Growing up in a home where my father is a high school principal, I hear it all the time about “how he changed those kids’ lives” or “how he got this group of students off of the streets and helped them find jobs.” Having an African American leader within an urban school can ultimately change the learning culture. Seeing a men and women of color in the hallways motivates students to want to graduate; they want to “be like Mr. Jones when they grow up” because he has a nice house, drives a nice car, and has a family, and guess what? He isn’t white. “Making it out of the hood” and then ultimately giving back is what these African American educators have done for the City of New Haven. Through my research I hope to display how African American educators’ presence helped changed the struggling lives of the youth in New Haven. Also, to show how that has impacted the degree of violence within the city and how more seniors are graduating high school and going to college.
Research Process: Initially, I thought my research process would be easy. Since I live in New Haven I can just look in the local newspaper to find instances of how African American educators benefit the community. I figured I wouldn’t have to search everywhere around the web, or try to find many books in the library, or even search a bunch of databases. The first step I took was visited the New Haven Register website and search for “principals”. Many options came up. I scrolled down for a few minutes and nothing I was really looking for came up. Then I added “New Haven principals”. Once many articles popped up that seemed relevant, I thought I was finished. After clicking on a few, they didn’t really give me much. Because I know many of the teachers and principals in the high schools I decided to type their names in in the search bar. I actually found a lot of decent articles that would help. I needed sources from another website though. New Haven Independent, an online newspaper, covers stories in all of the sections in New Haven. Done by local writers, their stories are never biased so I knew that this is what I needed. I found a bunch of sources on graduation rate, crime rate, different articles on the hiring of multicultural administrators, and programs led by educators that help “clean up” the city. With the assistance of both newspapers I felt that they provided me with enough sources to help me find good research. They also provided links to other websites which will allow me to go deeper into to what I am specifically looking for.
“23% Of HS Grads Finished College Within 6 Years | New Haven Independent.” New Haven Independent, n.d. http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/23_high_school_grads_finish_college_in_6_years/.
- This article shows the college graduation rate of New Haven high school graduates.
“40 Black Men Take The ‘Kiyama’ Pledge | New Haven Independent.” New Haven Independent, n.d. http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/kiyama/.
- This article shows how Wilbur Cross Assistant Principal Larry Conaway, and Hamden High School Principal Gary Highsmith help by delivering their message during the Kiyama Pledge.
“Can Newhallville Become A ‘Promise Land’? | New Haven Independent.” New Haven Independent, n.d. http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/promise_land/.
- This article shows how “that the group’s main objective is to reduce crime by reaching out to the families and young people with a “don’t shoot” message”
“Four New Principals Named | New Haven Independent.” New Haven Independent, n.d. http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/four_new_principals_named/.
- This article shows the hiring of new principals in New Haven public schools, half of them being multicultural
“Hillhouse Stars Honored | New Haven Independent.” New Haven Independent, n.d. http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/champs_recognized/.
- This article show African American student athletes succeeding in school and in the playing field.
“Hyde Leadership Academy Using Grant Money to Offer New Health Science Classes.” New Haven Register – Serving New Haven, CT, n.d. http://nhregister.com/articles/2012/01/07/news/new_haven/doc4f08f2043de9f869153338.txt.
- This article shows how Principal John Russell “seeks to incorporate lessons on health-related topics into subjects like reading, math and social studies and add a class on African-American history which highlights health care issues for the black community.”
“Kiyama Movement Plans Community Program Wednesday in New Haven.” New Haven Register – Serving New Haven, CT, n.d. http://nhregister.com/articles/2012/06/26/news/new_haven/doc4fea6c65e6c57826611638.txt?viewmode=fullstory.
- This article shows The Kiyama Movement which “recognizes teachers as essential components of the educational process, but notes the most important components are parents, students and the broader community where students live and play”
“‘Tough’ Talk | New Haven Independent.” New Haven Independent, n.d. http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/tough_talk/.
- This article shows “that times are tough in New Haven, but not to worry, because the Black and Hispanic caucus is “tough and it is moving.”
One thought on “How have African American Educators Saved My City?”
As we discussed, this becomes an even more interesting project if you “flip” the statement into a question and investigate the evidence underlying the popular beliefs. You suggested that a richer way to frame the RQ might be something like: “Has the hiring of African American educators in New Haven public schools led to an increase in the graduation rate and/or led to a decrease in the crime rate?” We agree that this type of question, especially over a 10+ year time frame, will seek to answer something that we don’t currently know, and fulfill the Ed 300 requirements. Furthermore, you could enrich the basic RQ above in two possible ways:
a) Precede with “Many people in New Haven believe. . . . ” then ask the RQ to see if there is supporting evidence (or not).
b) If there is a pattern, you could amplify the RQ to add “and if so, why?” and test alternative causal theories. In other words, if there is a rising graduation rate and falling crime rate, might there be other factors (beyond the racial composition of the school staff) that could be influential?
You’ve already started to search NH local news archives for stories that may answer your RQ, which is great. When using Zotero, be sure to fill in key fields that the computer may not do by itself, such as: Author (if present), Title (headline), Publication title, date (add in yourself), web address. Also check to see how far back in time stories are archives on the NH local news websites.
To dig further into quantitative measures for New Haven, you will need:
1) See Booker’s source detective post on data from CEDAR for minority teachers by year, graduation rates by year, by district.
and see more
2) For crime rate data, you will need to investigate other types of sources. A great start might be to schedule a librarian appointment and bring or email ahead of time your specific question. You could ask: “Where can I find New Haven crime statistics over the past 10 years or more?”
See library appointment scheduler:
Also look for anyone who has done a prior study on the general question of whether the racial composition of the teaching force affects student outcomes or community measures. You suggested looking in Google Scholar, which makes sense, and consider the keywords for an advanced search: “minority teachers” or “Black teachers” AND “student outcomes” or “graduation rates”, etc. Lots of possible combinations, and also consider other databases on our Search strategies page, and also discussing with a librarian during appointment.
Example of the search we did together:
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