Monday, August 27, 2007

Our Own Schools


Weddings and Funerals. That's the joke. Black folk (in this case refering to 'African-Americans') will go to white people for everything else except those two things. It is one the greatest things holding us back in terms of economic empowerment. We have yet to see the value in investing in ourselves though we are surrounded by those who are living examples of the benefits of investing in one's community. In fact we will actively invest in others whose expressed determined idea is to destroy our community. Another by product of this is that we often don't have the confidence within our own inate ability to create insitutions and businesses for ourselves.

With the amount of original teachers out there we can generate our own schools. There is often the stigma though that such schools won't 'measure up.' Do the knowledge below. Though within the Nation we advocate not just that 'African-American' is Black. We advocate that all Original People's are shades of Black. Take the best in showing that Original People can make their own.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

By Chris Levister

Charter Schools Catering to Black Students Wildly Popular

As many of the nation's 3,500 charter schools struggle with funding shortfalls, tougher regulations and growing opposition, charter schools that cater to African-American and underserved children are flourishing amid lengthy waiting lists with numbers in the thousands.

So when Redlands educators Vicki and Edwin Brewer got fed up with their three children's failing public school they turned to charter schools. But not just any charter schools. The Brewers insist on schools that focus on building the children's competency around who they are as Africans in America, as a bridge to success in the mainstream.
Charter schools that cater to African-American and underserved children are ‘proudly’ segregated and wildly popular boasting waiting list numbers in the thousands.

Both graduates of Historically Black Colleges (HBCUs) the Brewers say they recognize the benefits of a rigorous curriculum, smaller class size, and dedicated teachers who believe in Black students, and that every one of them has gifts.

"African-American children have been largely marginalized and lead to believe they are public enemy number one: poor, violent and underachieving. We made a commitment to change," says Vicki.

That was 13 months ago. As the new school year rolls around the Brewers are still waiting to enroll their sons in charter school. Not because charter schools that openly recruit African-American children don't exist but because they are mostly oversubscribed with lengthy waiting lists of hopeful students.

The Brewers have pending applications at 9 schools - all of them oversubscribed.

"It's crazy. Families are paying thousands of dollars just to move up a couple of notches on the waiting list," says Edwin. In one case the couple claims they were offered $5,000 by a wealthy South African family. "They had five children. They were determined to buy their way in."

Los Angeles-based Inner City Foundation, founder and chief executive Michael Piscal is not surprised. The Foundation which operates L.A.'s View Park charter schools, says its waiting list numbers more than 5,000. In particular, charter schools that have opened in working class, Black or Latino neighborhoods such as the Inland Empire and high desert cities have been flooded with applications.

"The momentum we're building is tremendous," said Piscal. The Foundation announced last week that it has received more than $4 million in grants from the NewSchools Venture Fund, the Dell Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation, and plans to open four new charter schools in mostly Black and Latino South Los Angeles this fall.

"The funders recognize that we're moving from success to success," said Piscal.

It has been more than 10 years since the charter school movement forged into existence with much anticipation and hope matched by just as much skepticism and opposition.

But the intended goal of a superior not necessarily equal education that boosts the learning development of primarily Black and underserved children is proving to be extremely popular.

"Fears that charter schools would undercut public schools and promote segregation are unfounded," says Edwin, a Temecula math teacher. "Parents see these schools as places of opportunity."

When it first began, the charter school movement struck a chord in many communities particularly in urban districts. Though they were exempt from many regulations, hundreds of schools were created to give parents a choice over failing public schools.

Now more than a decade later, charter students are more likely to be Black and less likely to be Hispanic or Asian. 70 percent of Black charter school students attend intensely segregated schools compared with 34 percent of Black public schools students. In almost every state, according to Dr. Gary Orfield co-director of the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University, the average Black charter school student attends school with a higher percentage of Black students.

While charter school advocates and critics trade barbs over whether charter schools perform better than public schools, education experts are increasingly struggling with the issue of racial segregation.

Public schools have struggled with the issue for the past 50 years. Today charter schools are largely more segregated than public schools, says Orfield. He said data collected from charter schools in several key states detail segregation is worse for African-American than Latino students.

"The problems reported may not be due either to the intent or the desires and values of charter school leaders. They may reflect flaws in state policies, in enforcement, in methods of approving schools for charters, or the location where charter schools are set up."

Still advocates continually point to the benefits of a non-test driven, language and math curriculum incorporating leadership training and life skills.

"We believe strongly African-American children have the potential to become great leaders in our community. We combine life management skill components: attitude, self esteem, decision making and goal setting with a solid education. We challenge them to be great thinkers, have great discussions and back up their claims by having authoritarian figures back up their points," says charter school principal Brian Taylor.

The Brewers say the stepped up segregation argument is nothing new. "HBCUs struggle with the same argument and criticism. It's a scapegoat for a system that has failed our children for decades, for that reason alone we are prepared to wait as long as it takes."

Looking at the backlog and exploding demand for charter schools that openly recruit African-American children, the Brewers will have plenty of company.

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