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Learning While Black: Creating Educational Excellence for African American Children [Hardcover]

Janice E. Hale , V. P. Franklin
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 2001
In this study, Janice Hale critiques existing initiatives for improving the education of African-American children. She maintains that the current focus of school reform movements - teacher training and testing, child testing, child retention, and "one-size-fits-all" models of parent involvement - amount to the "same old thing". The solution to creating educational excellence for African American children, she argues, is found in the classroom, in the activity between the teacher and the child. The key to teaching children effectively lies in the instructional leadership provided by the principals. And meeting the needs of diverse learners in urban and rural classrooms means the school becoming the co-ordinator of support services such as tutoring and mentoring provided by concerned citizens, service clubs, churches and fraternal organizations. In this text, educators are called on to give up their belief that the educational limitations of African American children are the reasons for the achievement gap. Principals and teachers are called upon to work with community members to monitor the educational performance and extracurricular activities for each child at the classroom level, making sure that all children are performing at or above grade level and are involved in meaningful cultural enrichment programmes. Finally, Hale calls on all of us to create the "beloved community" envisioned by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and outlines strategies for redefining the school as the Family, and the broader community as the Village in which each child is too precious to be left behind.

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From Publishers Weekly

In a wide but welcome swing of the pendulum, Hale (founder of a school for facilitating the intellectual development of African-American preschool children and author of two books on educating black children) fixes her gaze directly upon schools the teachers and the children. Here is a fresh and feisty look at the miseducation of African-American children by a knowledgeable practitioner (and Wayne State University professor of early childhood education), a "call for action directed to the organizations controlled by middle-class African Americans, not to beleaguered individuals themselves." Relying to some extent upon the Waldorf School Movement (an approach that emphasizes children's individuality), Hale offers a solution that recognizes the school as the impetus for inner-city African-American children to achieve upward mobility, relying on help from parents, churches, community volunteers and teachers. Her model attends to those differences between "Afro cultural" themes and "mainstream" ones, which influence the varying academic achievement of African-American children compared with white children's achievement. Cognizant of religion's role in African-Americans' lives, Hale, who holds a master's in religious education, envisions a major role for the African-American church in enriching children's lives. Although the metaphoric basis of her program ("the Family," "the Village" and "the Beloved Community") and the detailed account of her own parenting experiences are occasionally distracting, both add substance to her theory the former by the grandness of its scheme, the latter by attending to nuts and bolts. (Dec. 4)Forecast: Professional educators in urban areas and parents of black children are this book's primary audience. Although the cover (depicting a symbolic African scene of people walking toward the sun) suggests an Afrocentric philosophy and curriculum, booksellers will want to inform buyers that Hale's focus, while totally on the education of African-American children, is not Afrocentric.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Hale, author of Black Children: Their Roots, Culture, and Learning Styles (1986) and Unbank the Fire: Visions for the Education of African American Children (1994), offers a heartfelt and forthright assessment of the all-too-often daunting task facing parents of black students. She parallels the racial profiling of law enforcement with current educational assumptions that put black children at a decided disadvantage, facing educators' low expectations and indifference. Educational reform efforts that focus on parental involvement are doomed to failure when so many parents of children attending public schools lack the education, time, energy, and resources to effectively monitor the school and advocate on behalf of their children. Hale relates her own frustrating experiences with her son's private school and not being part of the "club" that knows the ins and outs and how to get around the rules. Hale offers a detailed strategy that focuses on the classroom and advocates coordinated community-support services and enhanced leadership roles for principals. An innovative and important book for parents and educators concerned about educating black children. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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First Sentence
There has been growing alarm about the multitude of problems in the African American community that have circumscribed the life chances of African American children: crime, violence, teen pregnancy, poor school performance, and early termination of education, to name but a few. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Tool For African-American Parents July 18 2003
I am the parent of an African-American male entering kindergarten this fall, and this book is an excellent tool to help me deal with the school system. Thank you, Dr. Hale!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you Dr. Hale! Jan. 8 2003
By A Customer
Thank you Dr. Hale for an excellent text on an issue of critical importance! This is a great text for teachers, administrators and parents.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Must read for Black Parents March 30 2006
By Nehesi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Janice Hale writes about her experiences being a single mother and an educator by profession who was trying to ensure that her son was not only treated fairly, but taught in such a way as to ensure his success since she wasn't able to spare the time to do it herself. Although a lot of what she writes about is ethnically-specific (i.e. dealing with her son's teachers pre-concieved ideas about Black youth), there's one part that is applicable to children of any ethnicity: Parents who have the time or the resources to tutor their children had kids who were better students.
5.0 out of 5 stars Learning while black Nov. 22 2010
By Doc - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a must read for any parent and educator. The book puts into perspective some of the critical issues facing parents and policy makers.
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Information, Poor Philosophy May 28 2009
By Slurpee Drinker 22 - Published on Amazon.com
I enjoyed this book on inner-city education immensely, despite disagreement with the author on certain solutions (for example, making the church a purely utilitarian instrument of educational change).

Hale gives a realistic and tough assessment of African-American education and does offer several realistic solutions to educational problems in the inner-city.

The book, although academically-challenging, is written in a conversational tone and is easy to comprehend.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars Aug. 5 2014
By womenfor Christ - Published on Amazon.com
My book club and I will love reading this book. Thanks for sending it in a timely manner.
5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Tool For African-American Parents July 18 2003
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
I am the parent of an African-American male entering kindergarten this fall, and this book is an excellent tool to help me deal with the school system. Thank you, Dr. Hale!
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