Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Leadership and Policies

First Advisor

Peter Moyi


This research study explores the perspective of African American male superintendents on the African American male achievement dilemma. How do African American male superintendents theorize and respond to the underachievement of African American male students? Do their experiences give them greater insight, and how has this potential insight contributed to the implementation of initiatives that have improved the performance of this subgroup? Three major theoretical perspectives were explored during my review of the literature. Critical Race, Social Reproduction, and Oppositional Culture Theory encompassed the most consistent themes during my research, and helped to situate the study within the broader education context. The primary research method involved the interview of four African American male superintendents leading districts in the state of South Carolina. In addition to exploring their perspective of the African American achievement dilemma, the study sought to investigate the likelihood that there was a cultural connection that provided greater insight into strategies and practices that positively impacted African American achievement. The results of the study indicated that the primary explanation for the achievement dilemma experienced by African American male students was a shift in social and cultural dynamics. Specifically, the disintegration of the family unit and the diminishing influence the extended community and church has had on young men and families were identified as having the greatest impact. The most prevalent response to the achievement dilemma has been the establishment of comprehensive mentoring programs. Three of the four superintendents have established Bow Tie Club mentoring initiatives structured around the 5 Well’s of Dr. Benjamin E. Mays. All activities support the goal of ensuring that the participants are Well Read, Well Spoken, Well Dressed, Well Traveled, and Well Balanced. Although the research identified systematic inequities and racism as having a significant impact on the African American male’s ability to experience academic success, this study did not support that perspective.


© 2014, J.R. Falor Green