administrators, tensions among staff, union policies that restricted the number of African American teachers assigned to the school, and interference from the central administration and board of education. In addition, the staff had to overcome the negative image that was associated with the school before it became an African-centered school. The authors conclude that despite these setbacks, staff continued to be optimistic about the potential of the school. One reason for the optimism is the discontinuation of the union policy limiting the number of African American teachers. If a strong committed principal can assume the leadership of the school for several years and the staffing problems are overcome, it is possible that during the next five years, this school can develop the sense of community and mission needed for success.
I have not addressed the issue of the content of the African-centered curriculum. The specific content may vary from one setting to another. A common theme, however, is that the school should embrace the concepts of community and family. Essential to the ideas of African-centered education is the view that the child should feel at home in the school. The principal and teachers should be perceived as surrogate parents and mutual respect should govern the relationships of students to adult and adults to children. Parents and community members should feel welcome in the school. In short, this model is designed to counteract the traditional Eurocentric educational model that has resulted in the alienation of generations of African American children. The example of the elementary school in this book suggests that with committed and stable leadership and staff and minimal interference from the outside, the African-centered school can be a viable alternative to other types of educational reform. The strength of the model is that is goes beyond surface changes in curriculum and climate to implement a thoroughly grounded program that touches all aspects of the lives of children in schools. The example of the middle school serves as a reminder that any reform, no matter how soundly conceived, can be subverted by lack of leadership, poorly prepared teachers, and political and administrative interference. I hope that the experience of the elementary school will encourage others to implement reforms designed to make schools places that nurture African American children.
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