African-Centered Schooling in Theory and Practice

By Diane S. Pollard; Cheryl S. Ajirotutu | Go to book overview

One theme was that the student-parent interaction patterns were primarily positive. One teacher said in year one, "When we had teachers conferences, they would interact with the parents respectfully." Another teacher, interviewed in year three, said, "I find they're very respectful. . . . They'll just about do anything to please their parents." This theme continued to be expressed in the fifth year as one teacher said, "Most of the students respect their parents because most of these parents have high expectations for the children."

A quite different theme was expressed by some teachers who characterized student- to-parent communication patterns as problematic. Several teachers noted that their observations of student-to-parent interaction were structured by the school situation where the parent is called in because the student has behaved in some manner at odds with school policies or norms. For example, a teacher interviewed in year one said:

A lot of times if the parents come in, it's to bring the kid back from a suspension or something or the child is in trouble for some reason and the parents are not very happy. And you just see them browbeating their children, putting them down and saying, "You know better than that." . . . And every now and then you'll see one slap a child.

The third theme, which was expressed by most of the teachers we interviewed, was that they had not had opportunities to observe students interacting with their parents. Most often this was because their interactions with parents were limited to traditional school activities such as parent-teacher conferences and school programs. Within these narrow structural constraints, teachers tended to be more interested in the parents' reactions to the teachers' agendas than anything else.


School-Community Links

At the middle school, school-community links occurred in several ways. First, several groups and individuals from the African American community worked with students in extracurricular activities continuously throughout the initial five years the school operated as an African American Immersion School. One, an African American women's group, ran a Saturday morning program for girls. Another man organized an after-school Rites of Passage program for boys. Finally, an individual who worked for a major business group in the city worked closely with parents.

An additional community link at the middle school came through a program through which individuals were "artists in residence" at the school. Many of them were local African American artists who worked with students on a regular basis throughout the school year. Often they worked along with regular teachers at the school. This program has also continued.


CONCLUSIONS

The data from these two schools indicate both differences and similarities in the transformation processes at these two schools. Differences were most evident in the teachers' perceptions of changes at the schools during the five-year period of the

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