Creating a village

Black students are doing much better at a Los Angeles-area high school since black educators started a program to create a “village” atmosphere, as in “it takes a village.” But the Cleveland High program is for blacks only, stirring controversy, and it doesn’t seem to travel well to other schools. The LA Times reports:

During the school day, black students gather with teachers in meetings that are often laced with frank discussions about such topics as race, culture, relationships and negative media stereotypes of African Americans. About 315 African Americans attend the 4,200-student Cleveland High. Participation in the Village is not mandatory, but most black students attend. White, Latino and Asian students are not invited.

Critics — including some parents and teachers — have called the approach divisive and stigmatizing.

Pasadena High tried a “village” assembly for black students and drew complaints that blacks were being criticized for bad behavior while whites and Hispanics were getting a free ride.

At Cleveland, teachers showed black students they were being outscored by white, Asian and Latino students, as well as by students learning English as a second language. Black students were shocked. Apparently, they were motivated to try harder. They now outscore the district average on the Academic Performance Index.

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  1. Dan Greene says:

    “At Cleveland, teachers showed black students they were being outscored …. Black students were shocked. Apparently, they were motivated to try harder. They now outscore the district average on the Academic Performance Index.”

    This is exactly the kind of thing I am referring to in my posting that you mentioned below this one! I’m not sure yet how I feel about their village concept, but I’m starting to think the idea of using this kind of social data to motivate students to want to learn is key. This is the type of thing I want to integrate into my classes – I think it has the potential to motivate some students in a way that nothing else will. I think it depends if a given student is more individually oriented or community oriented. Traditional messages of success at school are geared toward a student’s individual success (graduating, going to college, getting a good job, learning about the world, increasing opportunities). These are great, but there might be some students who respond more to the idea of improving their family, community, society, etc – or to those who perceive social inequalities and wish to change them. Also, students can only benefit when the connections between their personal behavior and the impact on their community are clearly laid out and explored.

  2. “But the Cleveland High program is for blacks only”

    Then they haven’t created a village – they’ve created a ghetto.

  3. No, they’re discriminating on the basis of race. Of course, it’s the right kind of discrimination. That would be the kind that let’s people who’ve taken no risks and exerted no effort pretend that they’re warriors in the fight against bigotry.

  4. Why do we give blacks a pass on this, knowing full well that if any other group did this the screams and cries about racism, exclusivity, etc would rise to the heavens?

    Why not just go back to separate but equal?

    The pioneers in the Civil Rights movement did not work as hard as they did, did not endure the threats and taunts that they did, so that blacks could continue to be segregated in the public schools–and helped along by their teachers.

    Here’s a question designed to root out a little hypocrisy. For all those who spout racial diversity as the fount of all that is noble and good in our society: how is anyone supposed to reap the benefits of “exposure” to these students if they’re segregated by their teachers from the very students who need their influence?

  5. When other students are excluded because of their race–well, I’m sure *someone* will try to tell me why this is good, but it sure doesn’t sound right to me.

  6. Darren,

    I liked your comments so much that I jumped over to your blog… politically-speaking, I doubt there’s much we would ever agree on (count me as a fan of the SF gay pride parade). But here, well, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  7. BadaBing says:

    Multiculturalism and the mania for diversity fly in the face of one of the most primitive yet powerful impulses of humanity: the urge toward tribalism. People tend to live and, if possible, work in their own ethnic milieux. The new immigrants flooding into this country mostly seek out their own to live with. Diversity and multiculturalism do not pertain to them in the least. Diversity was invented by whites for whites. Countries outside the sphere of guilt-ridden western culture do not promulgate such self-destructive idiocy. Diversity was made for and is marketed to white consumers only, and that’s why phenomena such as separate graduation ceremonies for Filipinos, Latinos, Asians, Blacks, etc. will always get a pass, and why concepts such as the Cleveland High “village” will always get a pass, too. Everyone can be tribal except whites who, if they do go tribal, are immediately labled rednecks, bigots, and klansmen. However, tribalism is the natural order of things in the human realm, and maybe that’s why a program like this works. Maybe not. One thing history seems sure of is that diversity is never a nation’s source of strength.

  8. If black kids are indeed shocked that they do so poorly, then the real shock is their capacity for self-delusion. If it’s true (and I’m not sure it is), then schools should stop worrying about self-esteem and spend more time making them feel bad about their lousy abilities.

  9. Correction to above: I’m referring to the underperforming black students, not all of them. Apologies for implying otherwise.

  10. Everyone in this country will be better off if Black students start performing to their true capabilities. There is evidence everyday that when put in the right environment with the right mentor, WE have become CEO’s, astronauts, Ph.D’s, inventors, pilots, nobel peace prize winners, valedictorians, etc. There was several hundred years of brainwashing that got us to this point…..have patience with the turnaround. It’s happening. For daily evidence, go to

  11. Andy Freeman says:

    > There was several hundred years of brainwashing that got us to this point.

    Wrong. There were roughly 50 years of brainwashing, and they continue today with the victim and “someone owes us a living” mentality. (Some of my ancestors died the Civil War, so don’t tell me that you’re owed “40 acres and a mule”. The words that you’re looking for are “thank you”.)

    Even if you believe the “several hundred years” theory, it’s irrelevant because brainwashing doesn’t cause genetic changes.

  12. J-Mama, feel free to drop by my blog and comment any time–whether you agree or not. I think you’ll find I’m not the popular caricature of a conservative; I hope you’re not the popular caricature of a lib!

  13. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Thanks for the light – we see so little of light today.

  14. Indigo Warrior says:

    If racists and tribalists of any race or tribe set up their own 100% private schools*, with their own money – they have that right. And good riddance to them if they separate from the cultural mainstream.

    * – Which Cleveland High is not, IIRC.

  15. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Blacks do not aspire to be whites, they aspire to be educated blacks. Do you liberals hear that?

  16. superdestroyer says:

    Indigo Warrior

    You should look up the lawsuits about Kamehameha Schools in Hawaii. It had an “ethnic Hawaiian only” policy of admission. Someone finally sued them and won. A private school would be considered a “public accommodation” and in the long run, not allowed to school.

  17. Aside from the racism, yay for information. Never giving students real feedback is a bizarre way of trying to educate them.

  18. Ross the Heartless Conservative says:

    So what is wrong with taking a group that is underperforming and developing a plan that helps them improve? The program worked, it raised test scores on an objective test. At some point in the near future it should be abolished because it has served its purpose but I would rather have a program that helps underperforming groups narrow the gap instead of just leaving the groups behind.

    Having said the above, I would be in favor of all schools being private (but accountable for performance) and giving each child a voucher to be used for educational expenses.

  19. Indigo Warrior says:


    My experience with ethnic private schools is that while their curricula may promote the superiority of their groups to the point of being racist or tribalist, they do not (or legally cannot, as you pointed out) discriminate on admissions.

    It would be very hard to prove or disprove ethnic purity, for one. And it would be stupid for any ethnically-based institution to reject someone of the “wrong” blood curious about that culture – and paying good entrance money.

  20. Any time the power of government is used to distinguish between people it’s an invitation to injustice. If it’s justice you’re after you won’t get it by enacting an equal, but opposite, injustice.

    If you want the scales to balance then everyone has to take their thumbs off.