Name Image

Duke University


Professor of Sociology

Director, Program for Research on Education and Development of Youth (REDY)

Duke University
268 Soc/Psych Building
Durham, NC 27708

Phone: 919-660-5614
Fax: 919-660-5623














Main Scholarship Page

The black-white gap in basic premarket skills remains a factor of racial inequality in earnings (1).  When blacks and whites have the same twelfth grade test scores, blacks are more likely than whites to complete college (2).  Similarly, adequate schooling remains an obstacle for the progress of Latina/os.  Therefore, if the American ‘creed of equal opportunity’ is to be inclusive of all groups, then factors that permit individuals to fully participate in American life must be unrelated to race.  Reducing the racial achievement gap seems to be the best first step for attaining racial equality and realizing the democratic values U.S. laws/policies strive to achieve. 

The achievement gap may now lead to even greater racial disparity on many life-chance outcomes due to antiaffirmative- action initiatives.  Proposition 209 banned the use of race in student admissions to attain diversity in public institutions in California.  Hopwood v. Texas (78 F.3d 932 Fifth Circuit 1995) led to the same ban in both public and private institutions throughout Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.  Since affirmative action is limited to the most selective 20 percent of four-year institutions (11), fewer blacks and Hispanics may gain admission to flagship universities, which has occurred in both California and Texas (12).  Many private-sector employers also use standardized tests for the hiring, placement, and promotion of employees.  Hedges and Nowell (13) write “if very high scores are needed to excel in a field, or if gatekeepers believe that this is so, the fact that whites are ten to twenty times more likely to have high scores makes it almost impossible for blacks to be well represented in high-ranking positions” (p. 167) (Click here to see numbered references).



Extended Bio


Courses Taught

Abridged Web CV

Full CV / Resume


My Research Interests: Social Stratification and Racial Inequality

I am interested in how members of marginalized groups are situated with regard to resources important for upward socioeconomic mobility relative to non-marginalized groups and the factors that contribute to the persistence of these disparities. My entry into this line of research was the racial academic achievement gap, which in my opinion is the primary factor underlying social inequality. As a graduate student I was encouraged to develop and pursue a research agenda based on my dissertation. However, my work can be characterized as an ambitious plan that consists of four separate but related research agendas. My goal as a researcher is to provide a better understanding of social inequality and the processes involved in upward socioeconomic mobility and to contribute toward the development of a more comprehensive sociology of stratification and education. Below is a link to each phase of my research program.

I. Research on the Oppositional Culture Thesis/Achievement Gap

II. Research on the Role of Parents in Schooling

III. Research on Adolescent Aspirations

IV. Research on the Role of Teachers

Other: Studies on Higher Education & Adolsecents (General)