Article by Chastity Pratt Dawson.
At Marcus Garvey Academy in Detroit, the week begins with the recitation of black history facts followed by the sounds of drummers summoning students to an assembly.
Students sing the black national anthem and recite the school creed, which starts, “I will have faith in myself. … I can learn! I will learn! I must learn!” This is before any reading, writing and arithmetic.
• Test scores spur state to consider new standards
• How do we prepare our kids for jobs, future?
• Kids can’t count on auto jobs anymore, mom says
• A look at life in Detroit’s schools
• Big ideas for Michigan schools
Garvey is an African-centered educational environment, and in 2008, its students outperformed the state average in most categories on the MEAP. Three other African-centered schools in Detroit serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade fared better than the Detroit Public Schools average.
Staff, parents and students at Garvey credit the school’s Afrocentric curriculum for setting high expectations and instilling the self-confidence that students need to excel.
Proponents of Afrocentric schools maintain that these schools represent a solution to achievement and discipline problems in urban districts like Detroit Public Schools. African-centered schools outperform others because of their family-oriented environment, said Haki Madhubuti, a nationally renowned educator.
“It is critical that you love yourself. … If you have humanity, you don’t go out and shoot people,” he said.
Afrocentric schools focus on pride
Students at Garvey must walk on a stripe called the green line to success, painted on hallway floors. They must stand and say, “Jambo,” a greeting in kiswahili, to any adult upon the elder’s first visit to their class.
And every subject and bulletin board includes mention of African or African-American history or culture.