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Africentric academic dilemma
November 8, 2007 | G&M pg A 23 | Margaret Wente
They came from homes where the TV was blaring-all day. and nobody ever read a book or had a conversation. Audaciously, they named their school Downtown College Prep.
At first. the teachers assumed the problem was motivation. not academics. But they soon discovered that many of the kids could barely read or write. So they set up a skills boot camp and put in a structured curriculum. They focused on discipline. hard work, an atmosphere of community, and parental involvement. The school had small classes and long days. The teachers were highly self-cn'tjcal and quick to change tack when things didn't work By 2005, Downtown College Prep had sent all the graduates from its first two classes to four-year colleges. It now ranks among the top third of public high schools in the state. (A terrific book, Our School, recounts the gritty blow-by-blow.)
Therc’s a common denominator to these stories: Strong leadership. Committed teachers. A commitment to out what works. not race politics or ideology. And an organizational culture that's relentlessly focused on instruction, data and results. Toronto’s public schools provide almost none of this. Perhaps black-focused schools - with a genuine focus on success - will eventually find the way. Let's just learn a lesson from the people who‘ve been down this road. The kids need pragmatism, not kente cloth.
Margaret_Wente  African_Canadians  Afrocentric  hard_work 
august 2012 by jerryking
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