Authentic Alternatives to Accountability and Standardization
Edited By Joe Bower and Paul L. Thomas
Chapter Eight: Reconciling Student Outcomes and Community Self-Reliance in Modern School Reform Contexts
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Reconciling Student Outcomes AND Community Self-Reliance IN Modern School Reform Contexts
BRIAN R. BEABOUT AND ANDRE M. PERRY
EDUCATION: AN INDIVIDUAL OR COLLECTIVE ENTERPRISE?
Education for African Americans has historically been linked to the broad movement to improve their lot in life. From slavery and Jim Crow, toward fuller membership in American society, schooling was as much about academic learning as it was for ensuring the sustainability of the black community. Due to both de jure and de facto racial segregation, there have historically been high levels of self- determination in schooling for African Americans (Anderson, 1988). The boundaries of the racial community were often undistinguishable from the geographic communities in which African Americans lived. Because of segregation, racial uplift became the raison d’être in all sectors of black society. Education offered a pragmatic focus for community development, political empowerment, and economic enfranchisement. This has meant employment of black teachers, the visible presence of the African American experience in the curriculum, and significant local decision-making power.
The latest wave of test-based reform is in direct conflict with this tradition of racial uplift and self-reliance, which have served the African American community well as often disenfranchised members of an oblivious society at-large. Modern school reforms have substituted test-score growth for community development as the ultimate metric of educational success. And we have very little understanding of what this substitution might do in our...
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