Friday, July 06, 2012

HBCU Digest rips Orlando Sentinel's coverage of FAMU's graduation rate

Editorial board members and reporters at the Orlando Sentinel have bombarded their newspaper’s pages in recent months with slanted headlines about FAMU. The sensationalized “news” coverage has many historically black college and university (HBCU) supporters across the nation fuming.

From the HBCU Digest:

The Orlando Sentinel this week continued its media framing assault on Florida A&M University, recently publishing a piece on FAMU’s graduation rates. Hovering around 12-percent four-year undergraduate completion rate for incoming freshmen, and a 39-percent tick for those completing in six years, the article wastes no time in giving the reader the usual higher ed porn found in HBCU stories – students leave saddled with debt and no degree to show for it.

Here’s the truth about historically black colleges and universities’ graduation rates, a truth that anyone with cultural and racial sensibility can appreciate. HBCUs admit and graduate the students that most four-year institutions won’t consider for enrollment. There are casualties. Many of them. But giving low-income, high academic-risk students a chance to go to college is the most socially responsible thing to make those students the primary advocate for change in their lives, and the lives of their families.

Criticizing HBCUs for low graduation rates is like criticizing hospitals for high death rates among emergency surgery patients. Sure, there will be losses when someone gets half of their head blown off in gun violence, is clinging to life after a car accident or heart attack, or has suffered a massive stroke. But where else can they go for treatment? Don’t they deserve a chance to survive and lead a full life afterwards?

Judging the HBCU for students that drop out and don’t pay back default loans is like judging the homeless person suffering from schizophrenia who refuses public housing and help. Should they be scorned for not taking the obvious path to good living, when illness consumes their judgment and critical thinking skills?

Read the full editorial here at the HBCU Digest.

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