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article imageWould an All-Black School Be the Answer to School Dropouts?

By Carol Forsloff     Jun 3, 2009 in World
Toronto, Canada is setting up an Africentric school in September 2009 to reduce the dropout rate of minorities. But would that type of school be successful in a place like Louisiana where racial conflicts continue in some of the schools?
In 2007 the Board of Education of Natchitoches, Louisiana adopted a "two strikes and you're out" policy related to school fights between races at Natchitoches Central High School. Last week the school board members voted for a white superintendent whose administrative experience has been only in predominantly white schools to head up the Natchitoches school system, which has a majority black population. This raises questions about Africentric schools and whether Brown versus the Board of Education in the United States was the best course for black children in terms of the results. The Court decision declared that separate schools were not equal. Toronto Canada has moved towards an all-black school to help young people develop pride and identity. Could this be a solution to the black dropout rate in the United States?
Andrew Wallace recently reported on this in the Huffington Post and declares that indeed such schools might be a viable solution to the dropout rate in the black community. But he says don't call it segregation.
Wallace gives an accounting of three activists, Jackie Wilson, Afua Cooper and Veronica Sullivan, who in 1985 became so concerned about the plight of black students in the dropout rate they began planning the school tailored to meet the needs of the students. The school only lasted 18 months because it was attacked for being segregationist, when its founders often stressed adamantly that it was not. The school was forced to close. Now more than 20 years later Toronto's adoption of an Africentric school is said to be that envisioned program designed to reach Toronto's disaffected youth and is announced ready to open in September 2009.
The adoption of the resolution creating the school did not occur without conflict. On the other hand African-American supporters were on hand to explain the premise of the school and the value it might offer young people who were unresponsive to regular, integrated class programs.
In the United States many schools continue to be segregated, in spite of the change in the law of the 1950s. In fact they are increasing. That's because of the white flight to the suburbs, especially in the South and the growing disparity between rich and poor. The inner-city schools became largely black, lacking pride and focus. Some parents, like all Ophelia Dumars in Natchitoches, Louisiana, believes that it integration did not improve the plight of black children. The white teachers did not know how to interact with black children, acquired the power in the schools, eliminating the role dominant black teachers, and reducing trust. She believes that a school where administrative power comes from the black community, and that is largely black, might be the answer to the dropout problem, agreeing with Wallace on the matter.
As school districts struggle with high dropout rates and academic failures, perhaps the Toronto program will be an interesting one to examine to assess its comparable success or lack of it in meeting the needs of children who become disaffected and dropout. That's because the problem of dropouts is high in Louisiana schools, as an example, where racial problems continue in education. The result of the Superintendent pick this week of a white superintendent over black candidates with what many viewed as having superior credentials and the racial unrest it has provoked might indeed give the community an alternative with an Africentric school as is planned for Toronto.
More about Segregation, Integration, Brown board education
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