A Portrait of the African American Immersion Middle School
When the Task Force recommended that two schools, one elementary and the other a middle school, be re-created as African American Immersion Schools, it was envisioned that the African-centered model would encompass the kindergarten through eighth grade school years. It was expected that most of the students who attended the African American Immersion elementary school would continue on to the African American Immersion middle school. Indeed, it was expected that the middle school would be an attractive alternative for students who had attended the African American Immersion elementary school. Partly in light of this expectation, many of the plans for implementing the two schools were identical, including the requirements for teachers, the procedures for selecting staff for the school, the emphasis on curriculum development, and their inclusion in the documentation and evaluation study. Unfortunately, this expectation did not materialize. Most of the students who graduated from the elementary school did not move on to the African American Immersion middle school. Instead, they went to other middle schools in the city. An analysis of characteristics of the middle school can help to explain why.
It is early morning and the halls are quiet as teachers prepare their classrooms for the new day. A bell rings and the halls explode with activity as children enter the school. The sounds of lockers opening and closing are mixed with the voices of girls and boys greeting each other and catching up on the latest news. Teachers stand in front of their classroom doors greeting students. Aides move among the students, urging them to get to their classes quickly. After a few minutes, another bell sounds, and adults admonish the stragglers to move along. As suddenly as it began, the