Mountaintop: Middle-class African American families' successes and barriers in American public schools

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Teaching and Leadership


Pat Tinto


Families, Barriers, Public schools, Middle class, African-American

Subject Categories

African American Studies | Arts and Humanities | Curriculum and Instruction | Education | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies


This study shares the life and educational experiences of three suburban middle-class Black/African American families within United States (U.S.) public education. It explores how these families viewed their children's educational experiences while attending predominantly White/European American schools. The phenomenological framework of this study is designed to unfold the academic and cultural facets of the participants and to explore their perspectives of their life and educational experiences within a predominantly White/European American community. A central question is, how did school relationships with adults and peers define or shape the participants perspective of their cultural identity? The essence of the cultural identity phenomenon (Patton, 1995) emerged as a common experience among the participants in this study. Common experiences among participants in this study are: (a) cultural isolation, (b) racial barriers, (c) historical facets of Blacks/African Americans in public education, (d) systemic institutional barriers when choosing a "good" education for their children, (e) an absence of or limited multicultural education in predominantly White/European American schools, and (f) the importance of African American cultural programs, churches, and role models within their community. This study offers information to educators for broadening their view of multicultural education that includes stages of cultural identity, classroom equity, and parent involvement.


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