Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cool people you should know: Karolyn Tyson

Karolyn Tyson is a sociologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her work focuses on the developmental trajectories of African-American children and the ways that schools are organized to either support or inhibit black students' academic and social growth.

Cool findings:
  • Based on a study of eight North Carolina public high schools, Tyson found that evidence of a "burden of acting white" was limited to a small subset of schools. Arguing that Fordham and Ogbu's study was flawed because of its lack of a comparison group, she found that peer pressure against high achievement is prevalent among teenagers regardless of race. You can read about her study of "acting white" in this NY Times article.

  • How schools are organized helps to predict when this stigma becomes race-oriented, producing a burden of "acting white" for black students, and when it becomes class-based, producing a burden of "acting high and mighty" for low-income whites. In particular, racially and socioeconomically polarized tracking patterns were associated with these twin burdens.


Stuart Buck said...

Any idea why the number of North Carolina schools in the study was 11 in an early version, but 8 in the published version?

Also, note that the early version of the study includes this line: "There were no standard questions asked about 'acting white' specifically because this was not the focus of the original investigation."

Stuart Buck said...

In answer to my own question, I think the published version drops the three elementary schools that were originally investigated.