Leadership - Roeper Review, 30:93103, 2008 Copyright The...

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Roeper Review , 30:93–103, 2008 Copyright © The Roeper Institute ISSN: 0278-3193 print / 1940-865X online DOI: 10.1080/02783190801954965 UROR Capitalizing on Leadership Capacity: Gifted African American Males in High School Capitalizing on Leadership Capacity Fred A. Bonner II, Michael E. Jennings, Aretha F. Marbley, and Lesley-Ann Brown Leadership is one of the most underemphasized dimensions of high ability cited in the current federal definition of giftedness. This particular ability area is highlighted here in an effort to offer helpful information and recommendations to administrators, educators, parents, and policymakers who seek plausible solutions to the problem of underidentification among gifted secondary African American male student populations. Key topics and issues addressed include definitions of giftedness, school context and environment, identity devel- opment, resilience, and leadership potential. The analysis concludes with practitioner- and researcher-focused recommendations. African American males continue to go underidentified for our nation’s gifted programs. This lack of identification has led to underrepresentation by as much as 50% nationally (Office of Civil Rights, 2002). According to Lee (1996), “Black males encounter formidable challenges to their educational develop- ment and many of them experience a serious stifling of achievement, aspiration, and pride in school systems through- out the country” (p. 5). Both current and historical arguments 1994; Simon, 2007), much like Armstrong Williams’ dire report on African American male crime statistics cited in a 2004 col- umn in the New York Amsterdam News , would have many of us believe that Black males are pathological and failing misera- bly in our nation’s schools; when, in actuality, our nation’s schools seem to be the purveyors of pathology and are misera- bly failing our Black males (Dunbar, 2001; McNally, 2003). Despite our efforts at expanding the definition of giftedness to include several categories and criteria in the identification process, we continue to see a high degree of underrepresena- tion among African American male cohorts. The literature in the past two decades has been noteworthy (e.g., Fashola, 2005; Ferguson, 2000; Ford, 2003; Ford, Moore, & Milner, 2005; 1998; Kunjufu, 1990, 2005a; Lee, 2005; Morris, 2002; Ogbu, 2003; Polite & Davis, 1999; 2006; Watson & Smitherman, 1996; Whiting, 2006; Wynn, 1992) regarding the “underachievement” and underrepresenta- tion of African American males in U.S. schooling. According to the literature on these phenomena, African American males have been disproportionately placed in special education class- rooms (Harry & Anderson, 1994; and talented programs (Ford, 1995; Bonner, 2001; Ford,
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Leadership - Roeper Review, 30:93103, 2008 Copyright The...

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