It's Indoctrination, Not Education, Say Critics of African-Culture Focus

Article excerpt

VARIATIONS on the African-centered curriculum offered by Detroit's Paul Robeson Academy are being tried in Baltimore, New York, Milwaukee, and San Diego, among other cities. They are under consideration in Portland, Ore., and Seattle. Most, but not all, of the programs have focused on the early elementary grades, as in Detroit. These schools have been hotly controversial: Critics accuse them of fostering the resegregation of American education and of engaging in indoctrination, not education.

Michael Meyers, executive director of the New York Coalition for Civil Rights and a former assistant director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, sees a danger of "racial breast-beating" in such academies. The purpose of education, he says, should be "a rigorous search for the truth," not bolstering self-esteem by exaggerating the importance of a particular culture.

Last year Mr. Meyers filed a complaint about a New York City African-centered program with the federal Education Department's Office for Civil Rights. In 1987, a Florida court declared a Dade County program discriminatory and illegal. Detroit's academies had to alter their admissions policies because of a gender-bias lawsuit. …