The 100 Black Men of the Bay Area Community School is going full blast, and I say more power to them. The Oakland charter school is starting its second year and hopes to build to about 900 students, K-12. Right now it’s only K-6.
The kids come to school in shirts with collars and ties. They are taught respect by the all-black faculty and administration. They are taught how to study and how to behave. Even an untucked shirt can draw a reprimand, staff members pointing a finger and saying “shirt” to wardrobe miscreants.
Says the San Francisco Chronicle: “The school is modeled after the well-regarded Eagle Academy public schools in New York, which offer inner-city males a college prep curriculum in a structured and ritual-filled schedule.”
What’s wonderful so far is that nobody has raised the issue that the school, as set up, is discriminatory. Imagine the uproar if someone established a college prep charter school for caucasian boys only. The outcry of “segregation” would be loud and long.
Most folks don’t know a similarly self-determinant school is operating in Madera County — the Ezequiel Taoya Alvarado Academy. It is a charter school that attracts Spanish-speaking children, teaches mostly in Spanish and is doing well by its students.
These self-segregated efforts would seem to defy the 1953 Brown vs. Board of Education decision, which outlawed racial segregation in education. But there may be a subtle difference. In this case, the segregation is self-sought, not imposed. And theoretically, those schools are open to anyone, but in fact people who don’t fit the mold don’t seem to go to them.
We may be seeing a small revolution in how we look at segregation. The law says “don’t discriminate,” and that should not be changed, but there may be times when some forms of self-determination among certain groups is exactly what’s needed.