Even with strong affirmative action programs in education an hiring, it will take at least another 45 years for blacks to get their share of college teaching positions, according to a study by Howard University's Institute for the Study of Education Policy released yesterday.
Now, the study showed, blacks make up 2.9 percent of the nation's college faculty members while totaling 11 percent of the U.S. working force.
"If they had reached their faculty potential based on their presence in the labor force at large," the study concluded, "there would be approximately 55,000 black faculty in institutions of higher education. The current number of black faculty, therefore, is roughly 40,000 below the faculty potential."
The study was published as a book, "The Case for Affirmative Action for Blacks in Higher Education." by Howard University Press. It was conducted by John E. Fleming, Gerald R. Gill and David N. Swinton, all of the institue. The policy panel established at Howard four years ago to act as a national clearinghouse for data and as a research center on issue affecting equal opportunity for blacks in higher education.
The study found that past discrimination against blacks in education and jobs kept them from achieving their potential in college faculty jobs.
"Affirmative action enforcement efforts will be necessary to ensure equality of opportunities, given the tight labor market conditions projected for the future." the study concluded.
For example, the study said that blacks have a disproportionate share of the low-paying, less-secure jobs on college faculties - "the nontenured, the parttimers, the temporarily appointed."
Moreover, the greatest number of black doctorates - 6.7 percent - are in education while fewer - 1.1 percent - are in engineering or the physical sciences. Quoting a survey by the National Academy of Sciences, the Howard study said the proportion of black scientists is remaining steady or shrinking.
This is important because the doctorate - a PhD - is the "union card" to a college teaching position. For this reason, the Howard study said, affirmative action programs are important to get and keep black students in school as well as to gain them teaching jobs once they graduate.
Working against expanding the number of blacks in college teaching positions is a generally declining enrollment and therefore a lessening need for college professors.
In another development, a group of 24 social scientists, educators and lawyers active in civil rights research yesterday challenged recent conclusions by sociologist James S. Coleman that is a "mistaken belief" that black students learn better in integrated classrooms - the opposite stance from his views 20 years ago that were widely used to support school desegregation.
The group, which does research on desegregation under the auspices of Duke University, said Coleman has made no studies on school deseregation and academic achievement in 13 years and had incorrectly analyzed research done by others.
The group also criticized The Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune "for implying that Coleman's statements were based on new research he had conducted rather than being simply an expression of his personal views."