Dear Dr .Al,
When our class met with the mayor he talked about the
possibility of forming an academy for African Americans. Do you think this would be advantageous for
the improvement of cultural learning, or do you think this could be detrimental
due to the segregation that would be created between Caucasian and African
What you’re asking here is about the relationship
between “cultural learning” and academic success…and by extension, if “cultural
learning“ is best delivered within the context of an Afro-centric environment –
within an Afro-centric curriculum. There is enough data to suggest that there
is tremendous social and academic benefit to holding a positive historical
cultural self identity (HiCSI), and home cultural self-identity (HoCSI). HiCSI has to deal with learning one’s
history, foods, music, the story of one’s beginnings, language, traditions,
etc. and viewing it as a strength. This is what the Turtle school in Green Bay
is based on. HiCSI deals with positive
strong messages delivered within the context of the home. So in this case, your parents are delivering
the messages of who you are and how you represent yourself, your family, your
culture. This is what many immigrants
do. They teach their children what it means
to be African, Latino, Asian, etc. The
children may not be taught the history, per say, but they are bathed in the
language, the music, the foods, clothing, etc.
This is central to a student’s success as it represents both the base or
launching-pad for ethnic minority students…as well as a place of strength and
safety (a home) to retreat to when emotionally challenged. Now, let’s take this to your question.
If we accept that this “learning” is integral to a student’s academic success,
and that this “learning” needs to be secured early during a child’s formative
years, (particularly since you have competing messages) then either the child
gets this in the home or in the school…or is defined and defines himself
through the messages in the environment.
If these “learnings” are not being delivered
adequately/appropriately/satisfactorily in the current school environment; and
if its not being delivered adequately/appropriately/satisfactorily in the
current home environment, and we acknowledge its importance to academic
success…then we simply find an environment that would do it. This is the basis of the argument for many of
the charter schools.
Relative to the segregation part of your question “segregation that would be created between
Caucasian and African American students,” (a) I do not see how different
that is than what we have today, and (b) maintaining a weakened posture has
done nothing to enhance or advance the process of integration.
Thank you for your question.