New City School Blends Learning with African Cultural Flavor

Elisa Crouch, STL Today, August 21, 2011

On the first day of school, third-graders in Angela Robinson’s class sat cross-legged on the floor and recited the African creed taped to the chalkboard.

They would accept their duties and responsibilities, respect themselves and others, they stated.

{snip}

Pamoja Preparatory Academy @ Cole opened Monday as an African-centered school–a place where reading, math, and science are taught alongside African values, customs and culture. Among those values are self-control, respect toward elders and giving back to community.

The school is the first with an African focus in the St. Louis public school system, a district where about 80 percent of the students are black. {snip}

{snip}

But others contend that the African-centered approach is too narrowly focused on one racial group.

“I have never had a high regard for any form of ethnic, racial or religious-themed schools,” said Diane Ravitch, a prominent education historian and author at New York University. “The purpose of public education is to develop American citizens who are prepared to make their way in the world and to collaborate with others to improve our democracy.”

Earlier this year, a few people raised similar concerns at public meetings. They also questioned why the district was opening two schools where girls and boys now attend classes separately–another growing trend in urban education.

{snip}

Pamoja–Swahili for “together”–is modeled after similar programs in Kansas City, Detroit and Los Angeles, where African-centered schools have been popular and are growing.

{snip}

Since the adoption of No Child Left Behind, states and school districts have been under increasing pressure to close the achievement gap between black and white students. {snip}

“We say that gap is not an intelligence gap,” said Kevin Bullard, executive director of the Afrikan Centered Education Collegium Campus in Kansas City, where about 1,200 students in preschool through 12th grade are enrolled in that district’s African-centered program. “Often it’s a teacher gap, in terms of teachers being able to address the learning needs of students within those environments.”

{snip}

Students will learn about the contributions that Africans and African-Americans have made in the subject areas they are learning about, from math to science to music to literature.

{snip}

“We want children to learn all that they can to be great and be competitive in this world,” said Sean Nichols, principal at the school. “We also want them to understand there are contributions by Africans and African Americans, and that the world is connected.”

Students will learn that black history began long before slavery–and that slavery in the United States was just a sliver of the African experience.

{snip}

“It’s not about race,” Nichols added. “It’s about culture.”

{snip}

Parent Mika Williams said she was unaware that Cole Elementary had transformed into Pamoja until Monday morning, when she walked her fourth-grade son and sixth-grade daughter into the school. She is excited about the change.

“It gives them a chance to see another culture and where they came from,” she said.

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  • Anonymous

    oh great another waste of tax money over nothing, while the black kids are getting further and further behind. “We say that gap is not an intelligence gap,” when is this nonsense going to end? Better yet, how about go back to Africa to really learn about the culture minus the tax dollars. Does one see Asians having the need to learn about their culture in order to learn? The blind leading the blind.

  • Melinda Van Tijn

    I’m looking for a school that incorporates Western Civilization exclusively into all disciplines for my children. It will give them “a chance to see another culture and where they came from. But such a school would be considered racist even though I would be sending my children there to experience the culture.

  • White Humanity is a Dwindling Resource

    Whatever the afrovoodos can do to live out their inner African and distinguish themselves as something distinctly different, apart, and unassimable to White Humanity, the better.

    We should start charging them a race tax for speaking our White language, using our White institutions, abusing our White culture, benefiting from our White medicines, and playing with our White technology.

    They can have the sports, gratis.

  • Spartan24

    Just another educational fad that will run its course. Nothing to see. Personally this kind of garbage needs to be in a private school so our tax dollars are not wasted paying for nonsense.

  • Anonymous

    They tried that in the 60’s and 70’s. Didn’t work then, won’t work now.

  • Anonymous

    Segregation that blacks and whites can agree on – finally.

    When I was in school, I never met a Jewish person, because they all attended a Jewish institution where they learned their history and culture. It seemed to have a positive effect on them.

    For now we can only dream of whites-only schools with a white curriculum.

  • Anonymous

    Will they teach the kids about famous Africans, such as, Emperor Bokassa I, or Idi Amin Dada (Two A’s, Two D’s and one gun).

  • Anonymous

    I will study hard,” they continued. “I will learn because I will study hard. I love myself. And loving myself, I will be myself, and know myself.”

    If this is African culture, why are they forever killing each other and living in such horrid conditions. Seems like if this really was African culture, Africa would be a really educated and prosperous place instead of the hell hole it is.

  • Anonymous

    “and recited the African creed…”

    I will sell the tribes into slavery. I will be a bloody warrior. I will make graven images of my phallus. I will take my women by force….

    Ok, children, what have we learned today?”

    “Gee, teacher, Africa kinda sucks.”

  • Anonymous

    What western academic wrote them their “African” creed?

    After all, a FBI informant invented out of whole cloth their most famous holiday “Kwanzaa”.

  • Anonymous

    It sounds a lot like warmed over “self-esteem” junk that has brought us today’s underachieving, entitled, dumbed down, narcissistic under 45 crowd. With a large helping of the failed “diversity/multi cultural” dung thrown in for “good measure.”

  • Anonymous

    So, when does the slavery and genital mutilation begin, since we’re dealing with “African culture?”

    Ten bucks says the leftwing idiots smearing this stuff on the walls are unaware that there is an American Creed, which we all used to learn, back when the education system supported freedom instead of mindless stupidity.

    Black Liberation Theology at work.

  • Anonymous

    Is this from the Onion?

    Africa (the black portion) never contributed anything to modern civilization. No high rise buildings, not even a wheel, no autos, no steam engines, no water wells, no water systems, no sewer systems, no airplanes, no electronics, no nothing. So why would anyone want to send their child to a school that teaches African culture. I wonder where the witch doctor fits in.

    However none of the above is the important concern. The important concern is that these parents and school administrators get to vote.

    But then again, we still have a Black Congressional Caucus. It all begins with Congress. Go figure!

  • Kingoldby

    ”The school is an African themed school that will teach black history and culture.”

    ”Students will learn about the contributions that Africans and African-Americans have made in the subject areas they are learning about, from math to science to music to literature.”

    So,when will a European themed school that will teach white history and culture open where Students will learn about the contributions that Europeans and European-Americans have made in the subject areas they are learning about, from math to science to music to literature be opening?

  • Question Diversity

    The main error in this article is that it implies that this school is the first SLPS foray into Afrocentric curricula. In reality, most of the SLPS schools in general do Afrocentric curricula — This is the only one which has a name that specifically states it does.

  • BannerRWB

    I like this idea. Keeping in mind that many who post on AMREN desire a Whites only nation, such an educational system should work to our benefit as well. As I see it, any non-white group (Blacks, La Raza, etc.) which professes a separate culture and separate identity from Whites is actually on our side. I can’t see the 100M non-whites we now have ever leaving, so the sooner our Govenment and/or educational system brings about an ethno-centric break up, the better it will be for Whites in general.

  • sbuffalonative

    I generally like to start by quoting a passage to expound on but there are just too many. I narrowed it down to this one:

    “Students will learn that black history began long before slavery—and that slavery in the United States was just a sliver of the African experience.”

    FINALLY we have an admission from blacks themselves that slavery in America is not the central pillar of Africans. It is but “a sliver” of the African experience.

    Save that quote for the next time someone tries to tell you that a few hundred years of slavery America is the defining ‘black experience’ of Africans.

    Also, let them have their own school to teach what they want and how. Let them segregate and separate themselves for us. Let them run their noble experiment and show us the results.

    It will crash and burn but only after the remarkable test scores that closed the racial gap have been exposed as cheating.

    As I like to say, if you want to destroy the black man, give him what he wants. They will simply implode on their own absurd theories.

  • Tom S.

    *-are taught alongside African values, customs and culture.

    I wonder if they’ll be taught the old African CUSTOM of VALUING everything that White CULTURE produces!

    *Among those values are self-control, respect toward elders and giving back to community.

    Man, they’re going to have their work cut out for them on this one! I’d rather try jumping to the moon than take on this task!

    *Students will learn about the contributions that Africans and African-Americans have made in the subject areas they are learning about, from math to science to music to literature.

    So what are they going to talk about for the other 59 minutes of the hour?

    *We also want them to understand there are contributions by Africans and African Americans,

    Ah yes, they “contribute” more and more every year – robberies, car jackings, assaults, murders, rapes, muggings, the welfare rolls, the prison population etc.. I guess you could say they’re the gift that keeps on giving!

  • (AWG) Average White Guy

    It’s not about race, it’s about culture?

    Does that apply to White southerners who wish to fly the stars and bars?

  • Anonymous

    Oakland School Dist. taught that Ebonics was a primary language

    spoken in Africa.

  • Anonymous

    Problem #1: What is ‘afrocentric’? Africa has many different cultural expressions from violent zulus to hustling swahilis. What, will they amalgamate them all together? Or will it really be an american, social-justice/marxist hodge podge of hip hop, malcolm x and afro-voodoo feel-goodisms?

    Problem #2: I am not really sure if they can come up with enough ‘african’ luminaries to inject in science, math, reading arts and other things. Africans left no written records, other than those who converted to Islam and adopted arabic writing. Unless they promote the lie of Egyptians being the same race as nigerians and other west coast africans, I think they may have a problem.

    Problem #3: If all the black kids are together, won’t gary orfield and other militant integrationists get mad? If all the teachers are black, admins are black, students are black and parent(s) are black, are they not practicing hyper segregation, and can’t other people do it too then? But if we are all living in separate compartments, where is the ‘American’ nation then without a shared cultural space?

    Problem #4: Atlanta cheating scandal at pomoja!

  • olewhitelady

    There are no sub-Saharan African and very little African-American achievements in math and science to teach, so these schools are probably pushing Afrocentrism–telling the kids that the ancient Egyptians were all black and could fly, that all the great thinkers were really black, etc.

    Of course, blacks ARE better off in their own schools, where they don’t have to compete with whites and Asians. I would bet that, in the pre-integration days, students were mostly respectful of teachers and didn’t drop out in staggering numbers.

  • Anonymous

    class sit cross-legged on the floor and recited the African creed

    and

    Students will learn about the contributions that Africans and African-Americans have made in the subject areas they are learning about, from math to science to music to literature.

    Now all that took 15 minutes, what do they plan to do with the rest of the school year?

  • Anonymous

    We say that gap is not an intelligence gap,” said Kevin Bullard, executive director of the Afrikan Centered Education Collegium Campus in Kansas City, where about 1,200 students in preschool through 12th grade are enrolled in that district’s African-centered program. “Often it’s a teacher gap, in terms of teachers being able to address the learning needs of students within those environments.”

    Yah!, and I say, google the video of a black woman teacher beating down a black student in class. It really shows us how Afrovoodoos teach eachother better; smack-down!

    Oh, sometimes you just GOTTA’ laugh!

  • Anonymous

    13 — Anonymous wrote at 7:05 PM on August 23:

    Is this from the Onion?

    Africa (the black portion) never contributed anything to modern civilization. No high rise buildings, not even a wheel, no autos, no steam engines, no water wells, no water systems, no sewer systems, no airplanes, no electronics, no nothing. So why would anyone want to send their child to a school that teaches African culture. I wonder where the witch doctor fits in.

    However none of the above is the important concern. The important concern is that these parents and school administrators get to vote.

    But then again, we still have a Black Congressional Caucus. It all begins with Congress. Go figure!

  • Anonymous

    “Students will learn about the contributions that Africans and African-Americans have made in the subject areas they are learning about, from math to science to music to literature”

    So what their saying is that they wont be learning anything at all since people of African descent have contributed absolutely nothing to the fields of math or science

  • Anonymous

    “taught … African values, customs and culture. Among those values are self-control, respect toward elders and giving back to community.”

    I guess it’s just no good to tell these kids they are Americans and ‘self-control, respect toward elders and giving back to community’ are American and Western values (don’t say Christian) (and arguably the values of any civilized society) and expect a good result.

    Are they taught those values are not only distinctly African (self-control??? LOL) but NOT American and Western?

  • Retired Educator

    Oh, yeah, right — blame the teachers!!! That’s like blaming a violinist for sounding lousy when all he’s got to play is a tin violin. WHAT IS YOUR RAW MATERIAL??? Afrocentrism is not going to make competent students out of ghetto children. Their IQs are low due to the mothers’ poor nutrition during pregnancy AND to the fact that the kids themselves did not receive proper nutrition during the first 5 years of life. The brain cannot develop properly without good nutrition. And, so many of the ghetto parents are on drugs and alcohol, which causes MANY brain defects in the kids. They need to start looking at these factors and then tell the truth. But, 12 years down the Afrocentric road, the kids will still score low on the SAT’s.

  • Anonymous

    My parents spent good money sending me to a PRIVATE Armenian school so I could learn some culture and language. It was only a year in that I demanded to go to an “AMERICAN school.” After transferring to public school I had to go to Saturday language lessons for a while *at my PARENTS’ expense.*

    I know Chinese who went to Saturday school to learn their language and certainly it’s common with Jews.

    Which makes me wonder: Why can’t Africans be African on their own dime??

    And what about the 20%?

    From the article: “The school is the first with an African focus in the St. Louis public school system, a district where about 80 percent of the students are black.”

  • Anonymous

    just another gimmick to encourage learning..That culture stuff probably comes from Black oral history..

  • Cliff Yablonski

    Oh Joy they want to celebrate everything they can about Africa and gush over how wonderful African culture is.

    But just try to get them to go live there.

  • Question Diversity

    21 Anonymous asked:

    Problem #3: If all the black kids are together, won’t gary orfield and other militant integrationists get mad? If all the teachers are black, admins are black, students are black and parent(s) are black, are they not practicing hyper segregation, and can’t other people do it too then? But if we are all living in separate compartments, where is the ‘American’ nation then without a shared cultural space?

    Problem is, the SLPS is at least 90% black. (Yes, they say 80% above, but I don’t buy it). There are hardly any whites to integrate. Most white school age students in St. Louis City attend some sort of private schools, mostly the Catholic schools. In fact, in the gentrification craze of several years ago, a few reabbers/developers threw in free Catholic school tuition for buyers who had school age kids.

  • Paleface 6

    If they’re teaching the African experience, does that mean the kids won’t be allowed to eat anything while at school? Starvation is definitely part of the “African experience,” after all.

    At least they’ll be able to divert all that Federal school lunch money somewhere else…like their personal bank accounts.

  • kgb

    “We say that gap is not an intelligence gap,” said Kevin Bullard, executive director of the Afrikan Centered Education Collegium Campus in Kansas City, where about 1,200 students in preschool through 12th grade are enrolled in that district’s African-centered program. “Often it’s a teacher gap, in terms of teachers being able to address the learning needs of students within those environments.

    The doublespeak is thick with this one. We know that any classes with three or four blacks in it is doomed, because the blacks simply do not know how to behave in a classroom and ruin it for the teacher, who cannot teach those students that actually like school.

  • sedonaman

    “It gives them a chance to see another culture and where they came from,”

    Anyone actually GO to Africa and learn a culture before venturing into this initiative? I mean, real Africans from Africa think Kwanzaa is a joke.

  • Yosemite Sam

    African culture? What kind of culture has no written language, no edifices beyond thatched huts, no weapons beyond the spear, no organization beyond the tribe, no history of agriculture, no cave or rock illustrations, no means of provision beyond hunting-gathering, and perhaps most important, little or no history of making alcoholic beverages.

    Seems like a mighty thin cultural gruel, one which could be adequately covered in a couple of one hour classes.

  • margaret

    When the Portuguese first landed in Capetown S. Africa they found that the local Africans ate all their food including meat raw. They did have fire, but they had not yet discovered that food could be cooked.

    The Xhosas and Zulas who arrived about 200 years were very advanced. They had been cooking their food for centuries.

  • margaret

    They are back to teaching swahili. It is not even a language.

    It is not an African language. It is mostly Arabic, created so the Arab slave traders could communicate with the black African slave catchers and slave traders.

    It is not really classified as a language. It is a pidgeon, a quickly developed ultra simple mish mash of at least 2 languages so different people could communicate.

    Pidgeon Chinese/English was created by local Chinese and English trades and seamen.

    Sabir, a mish mash of latin, turkish, urdu, arabic, farsi and others was developed by mediterrean sailors and Europeans and middle easterners so they could do business together. It was used extensively on mediterrean ships because the sailors were of many different languages and nationalities.

    American Indians and European settlers often created a pidgeon language when they first met. American Indians had pidgeon languages so different tribes could communicate.

    They won’t tell the kids that Swahili was the language of the Arab and African slave traders.

  • Anonymous

    MARGARET#38:

    The tern is “pidgin.” Not to correct your valid point. Just to pass along something helpful.

  • Anonymous

    I went looking (googling) to find whatever there might be in the way of great African architecture – pre-Western influence of course. As you might imagine there’s precious little to find.

    The most impressive structure I could find is The Great Mosque of Djenné in Mali. It’s described as ‘the largest mud brick or adobe building in the world and is considered by many architects to be the greatest achievement of the Sudano-Sahelian architectural style, with definite Islamic influences.’ (wikipedia)

    Well there’s the first problem – not truly and exclusively black African.

    It does look impressive though, in a primitive way of course.

    http://goo.gl/yHN77

    Second problem – though the original structure dates back to the 13th century, what you see above dates from 1907.

    Take a look at the original structure and be prepared for a letdown. A photo of the ruins of the original.

    http://goo.gl/lGAks

  • Rick

    Someone PLEASE enlighten me on exactly WHAT is so darn special and exciting about African culture? What in the heck is so awe inspiring that people, school systems, world governments bend over backwards for this colossal race of failures! If they cannot learn in an environment where all other races of children seem to learn, then how in world is banging bongos, gyrating and chanting and other nonsense going to get them on par with rest? We would have a better chance of finding a race of caped superheroes on Neptune than to have blacks succeed in a normal scholastic environment.

  • Pianki

    This is great. If this program is done correctly and have the proper staff it can join among the ranks of several African Centered Schools I have witness before. Once I heard Republican Senator for the State of Florida, Connie Mack, giving a speech before a Senate Education Committee talking about a similiar type school he visited in South Central Los Angeles. He frankly said it was one of the best he ever seen. His mention of how the preschool 2 year olds were so well versed in subject matter 5 years old had not mastered in traditional schools. I wonder if the 5th graders here will be mastering calculus by the 6th grade like those Senator Mack spoke on?