the primary models of African-centered concepts; these are the individuals students observe and can, if they choose, emulate. Furthermore, these are the individuals who will interpret African and African American history and culture for children.
First and foremost, teachers need to obtain accurate knowledge of African and African American history and culture. Teachers cannot teach what they do not know. Unfortunately, most contemporary in-service as well as preservice teachers do not know very much about African and African American culture. As a result, teachers who want to work in African-centered settings will have to engage in additional learning experiences in order to acquire the knowledge necessary to develop and implement an African-centered curriculum. As has been noted earlier in this volume, teachers at the African American Immersion Schools were required to complete 18 college-level credits in African and African American history as a condition of remaining at the schools. We observed the benefits of this requirement at the elementary school where teachers completed the requirement quickly. These teachers engaged in ongoing curriculum work with continuous refinements and updates. By contrast, at the middle school, many teachers did not complete the education requirements. This not only led to a high level of teacher mobility; we also observed incomplete and inconsistent curriculum development.
Second, teachers in an African-centered educational setting, as in all settings, need to hold positive attitudes about their students and about teaching. We observed that the teachers at both schools who bought into the African-centered orientation had to revisit their conceptions about the goals of teaching as well as the strategies they were utilizing in their classrooms. This reflection often led teachers to move along the continuum from novice toward expert in incorporating an African-centered ethos in the curriculum and the classroom.
We also observed that the more successful teachers in these schools were those who cooperated closely with their peers to develop and execute curriculums and programs. These cooperative efforts occurred both within and across subject matters and grades. The benefits of teacher cooperation were twofold. First, teachers provided support and assistance to one another as they developed curriculum and tried out new pedagogical strategies in their classrooms. Second, group cooperation provided an important model to students--one that, in fact, supported the communal aspects of an African-centered orientation.
The announcement that this large urban school district would establish two African American Immersion Schools was greeted with a great deal of attention and considerable controversy. In part, this was because this idea challenged the traditional orthodoxy of public schools in the United States. In addition, however, there was a recognition that this district was similar to many other urban school districts. Serving an increasingly diverse population, schools were finding that their traditional orientations and perspectives were failing to educate large numbers of students ef-