Duke Professor’s Program Seeks to Close the Racial Gap in Educational Achievement Among Youth

harrislargeAngel L. Harris, a professor of sociology and African and African American studies at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, is launching a new effort aimed at closing the gap in educational achievement between Black and White children. His program, called Research on the Education and Development of Youth (REDY), will be housed in the Duke’s Social Science Research Institute.

Professor Harris says the goal of REDY is “to provide teachers with the tools to teach students who have different learning styles.” Teachers will be trained to make adjustments to their curricula to tailor it to different styles of learning.

Dr. Harris is using a five-year, $1.3 million grant from the Department of Education to test the REDY program in Wake County, North Carolina, schools. There will be 16 experimental schools and 16 schools in a control group. Students in kindergarten through second grade in the experimental schools will be taught using the REDY program. At the end of the five-year program, an assessment will be made on whether the racial gap in educational achievement has been reduced in the experimental schools.

Professor Harris was raised by his grandparents in Brooklyn, New York. He had never been outside New York City before he left to attend college at Grambling State University in  Louisiana, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology. He went on to earn a master’s degree in sociology at Kansas State University and a Ph.D. in sociology and public policy at the University of Michigan.

Professor Harris is the author of author of Kids Don’t Want to Fail: Oppositional Culture and the Black-White Achievement Gap (Harvard University Press, 2011). Before joining the faculty at Duke University in 2014, Dr. Harris taught at the University of Texas at Austin and Princeton University.

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