The education of black males has gained considerable attention in recent years ( Hopkins, 1997; Kunjufu, 1990; Slaughter-Defoe & Richards, 1995). African American educators, community leaders, and researchers have been disappointed with the results of the major reform movements of the past two decades. Whether the focus is on higher standards, school-based management, restructuring schools, or a multicultural curriculum, the reform efforts have not had much impact on the educational achievement of black males. It has been observed in other research (e.g., Slaughter, & Epps, 1987) that for low-income urban African American children, the school experience is often discontinuous with early childhood development. Teacher expectations and the culture of the school often conflict with home experiences; competencies acquired in the home may not be valued in the typical classroom. The movement for African-centered education is based on the assumption that a school immersed in African traditions, rituals, values, and symbols will provide a learning environment that is more congruent with the lifestyles and values of African American families. A school based on African values, it is believed, would eliminate the patterns of rejection and alienation that engulf so many African American school children, especially males.
This book tells the stories of two African-centered schools, an elementary school and a middle school, in an urban public school system. The authors construe the events leading to the implementation of the African-centered schools as a continuation of the historical efforts of African Americans to obtain a viable education for their children. (Some of this history can be found in Anderson [ 1988]). It is informative that the major impetus for the schools came from African American educators and professionals in the black community. Because they are among the first