Black Students in Crisis

A recent San Diego Union-Tribune cover story, UC system admits largest, most diverse undergraduate class has many “People of Color” celebrating throughout the Golden State. While congratulations are truly in order for Latina/o/x and Asians, my question to the UC system, in particular UC San Diego, is why are Black students still at the bottom receiving end of admissions here in our city of San Diego? Better yet, out of this historically diverse 2021 class of newly accepted students, what is the percentage of Black Community College transfer students in comparison to the percentage of Black freshmen entering directly from high school?

Only 3% of Black students who attend Community Colleges transfer within 2 years while only 35% transfer within 6 years.
63% of Black Community College students do not earn a degree, certificate, or transfer within six years.
California high schools graduate African American/Black students at lower rates than all other racial/ethnic groups.

(Campaign for College Opportunity, 2019)

Listen, Black students are in a crisis. According to The Campaign for College Opportunity’s State of Higher Education for Black Californians Report (2019):

72% of Black Californians attend CA Community Colleges with 2/3rd of Black High School graduates entering CCC’s as freshmen directly out of HS at higher rates than any other student-group. Yet only 3% of Black students transfer within 2 years and only 35% transfer in 6 years. What’s worse, 63% of all CA’s Black Community College Students do not graduate, transfer, or obtain a certificate.

You can also view the webinar featuring SDSU’s Dr. Luke Wood and Dr. Teresa W. Aldredge, President of the Board of Directors of Umoja Community Education Foundation here. With rising tuition costs across the state and nation, UC’s and CSU’s in-state tuition fees serve as an affordable alternative for many students wishing to achieve a level of meritocracy in our country. Unfortunately, for students of African descent, the opportunity is minimal. As parents, activists, advocates and concerned community members, we must question why Black students leave high school with higher rates of community college enrollments than 4-year colleges and universities acceptance.

It’s imperative that we advocate for more policies that will provide our students with culturally responsive TK-12 school counselors and support staff that will ensure they are not only graduating but are participating in supportive programs and taking the necessary coursework to gain acceptance into UC San Diego and SDSU like their non-Black peers. We must also hold our local school districts – in particular high school counselors – accountable to ensure that African American students are not pushed out of school.

While Umoja programs and EOP are great starts in higher education, we need more policies that will benefit Black students, including more culturally responsive faculty and college counselors who will ensure that all students, including Black students, Native American and Pacific Islanders are reaching their college and career goals.

With such dire numbers, it is time that local school districts’ leadership create intentional hiring practices similar to Los Angeles Unified School District. Currently, LAUSD seeks to fill 10 counselor positions by July 27, 2021 to specifically meet the needs of African American students in the district, who make up less than 9% of the total enrollment but are largely marginalized and overlooked for opportunities. San Diego, isn’t it time we create equitable outcomes for our Black students, who deserve equity at all levels, too?

As the NAACP San Diego branch strives to improve the outcomes of all students, especially our Black students, join us in our advocacy by becoming a member of the NAACP San Diego Branch and Education Committee today.

K. Hasan Hamilton

Katrina Hasan Hamilton
NAACP San Diego Branch Education Chair

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