Lorraine Monroe: The Monroe Doctrine

By Townsel, Lisa Jones | Ebony, December 1996 | Go to article overview

Lorraine Monroe: The Monroe Doctrine


Townsel, Lisa Jones, Ebony


SHE wanted to be a physician in order to help and to heal. Instead, Dr. Lorraine Monroe chose education as her profession and found that she could touch far more lives through the power of teaching.

In her estimation, all children are reachable, teachable and capable of achieving success--regardless of their station in life.

"My philosophy is that school is set to transform children's lives," says the no-nonsense educator, who has devoted more than 30 years to the profession. "And really good school is working at that every single day."

Since September 1991, Dr. Monroe has been building such a school, such a program, at Harlem's Frederick Douglass Academy, where she and a team of administrators have created a public prep school that rivals some of New York City's costliest private institutions.

At a time when many of the nation's public school systems are in a dismal state, Dr. Monroe is hopeful. And, by insisting on order, respect and genuine effort in her classrooms, she has convinced the Academy's 900 mostly Black and Hispanic students, grades 7 through 12, that they can and will achieve. This is in spite of the fact that about 65 percent of them come from single-parent homes, live below the poverty level and reside in areas where drugs and crime are ways of life.

Way too long, she says, teachers have written off inner-city youths as underachievers. In order for students to feel confident in their abilities, she says, teachers must first expect--and require--more of them. "One thing that makes good education difficult for some people is that they keep trying to figure out what to do for disadvantaged kids and kids of color," Dr. Monroe says. "But once you start making the assumption that what you do for White kids or privileged kids is very different than what you should be doing for others, you start running what I call `strange school.' When in fact, good school is good school. It really doesn't matter who the kids are."

And a student's background, no matter how dysfunctional, should not be an excuse for failing to get a decent education, the seasoned educator says. "I just expect kids to come in here and give us the opportunity to make them smart," she says, wrinkling her brow. "I tell them: `This is going to save your life, so we don't have time for nonsense. We've got to save you.'"

The problem, she says, is that much too often educators think salvation lies in reinventing the wheel. "We spend a lot of money reforming [school] in strange ways, and people throw out a lot of the stuff that works," she says. "But I never move off of what I call the core, which is learning to read, write, compute, think, speak, appreciate art and behave in socially acceptable ways"

For Dr. Monroe, education has been more than a career for the past few decades; it's been a calling. She readily admits that she bases a lot of her teaching and administrative techniques on what she observed as a public school student right here in central Harlem. "I remember as a kid that there was order, that there were some tough teachers, and that it worked," she says.

Thus, the Monroe Doctrine was born: "Teach hard, tutor kids to be excellent and keep after them," Dr. Monroe says, summing up her daily creed.

That is why it's no surprise to those who know her that supreme order reigns at Frederick Douglass Academy, which shares a city block with boarded-up buildings, vacant lots and crack houses. Inside the school, there are no metal detectors in the entrance way. There is no graffiti on the walls. And students wear uniforms to school daily, save two days a year. "When they leave the building, 98 percent of the time people assume this is a private school," Dr. Monroe says, beaming with pride. "So [the students] have this sense of being very, very special, dressing like people dress who are going off to work.

It's all a part of conditioning children for success, Dr.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Lorraine Monroe: The Monroe Doctrine
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.