Graduate School University of South Florida Tampa, Florida CERTIFICATE OF APPROVAL Master's Thesis This is to certify that the Master's Thesis of MARIANNE JULIA CONKLIN with a major in Applied Anthropology has been approved by the Examining Committee on December 16, 1994 as satisfactory for the thesis requirement for the Master of Arts degree Examining Committee: Major Professor: P.atri
A COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION'S IMPACf ON THE EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT OF AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDENTS: UNDERSTANDING BARRIERS TO CHANGE by MARIANNE JULIA CONKLIN A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Anthropology University of South Aorida May 1995 Major Professor: Patricia P. Waterman, Ph.D.
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Completing this thesis has been a learning journey to which man y people have contributed. I would like to thank Dr. Susan D Greenbaum for introducing me to information concerning ethnicity and community and Dr. Nancy P Greenman for her guidance in the areas of multicultural education and planned change. The contributions of Dr. Neal Berger and Dr. Donnie Evans to this thesis have been greatly appreciated. I am also very grateful to my advisor, Dr. Patricia P. Waterman, whose support and encouragement were invaluable in completing this work. Thanks to Chetan R. Vora who s e spirit has been a steady source of support for me. I also greatly appreciate Terry Jo Smith for being there for me when I really needed it and whose support and encouragement enabled this thesis to be completed. Finally, I would like to thank members of the community organization for providing me with a wonderful learning opportunit y I wis h you the best of luck in challenging "business as usual.
LIST OFT ABLES ABSTRACT TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION CHAPTER 2. THEORIES EXPLAINING THE LOWER SCHOOL ACHIEVEMENT OF AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDENTS Cultural Ecology Theory Cultural Deficit Theories The Effect of Family Life The Effect of Cultural Differences The Effective Schools Movement Parent Involvement in Schools The Labor Market Explanation Creating Legitimate Schools Creating Alternative Educational Institutions A Call for Action Chapter Summary CHAPTER 3. COMMUNITY EDUCATION: A CASE STUDY OF UNITED FOR KIDS Methodology Description of the Organization The Target Community The Organizational Structure The Family Resource Center Programs Sponsored by United for Kids The Internship CHAPTER 4. ANALYSIS OF EVENTS DURING UNITED FOR KIDS' RRST YEAR OF OPERATION The Expanded Leadership Obstacle Course Model Effects of Changes in Leadership Limitations of a Services-Oriented Approach Obstacles to Obtaining Active Citizen Participation Understanding Contradictions between Rhetoric and Reality Creating Active Community Participation Strategies for Transformation Chapter Summary CHAPTER 5. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS REFERENCES CITED 11 Ill 4 6 8 lO 12 18 19 20 23 25 28 31 33 33 34 40 41 42 44 46 57 57 61 63 67 69 75 76 80 81 83
LIST OF TABLES Table 1. Leadership Tasks Designated by the Expanded Leadership Obstacle Course (ELOC) Model 59 .. II
A COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION'S IMPACT ON THE EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT OF AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDENTS: UNDERSTANDING BARRIERS TO CHANGE by MARIANNE JULIA CONKLIN An Abstract Of a thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Anthropolog y University of South Florida May 1995 Major Professor: Patricia P. Waterman Ph.D. Ill
This thesis is the result of an internship with a community organization which was created in order to improve opportunities for families and youth in an African American inner-city neighborhood in a large Southeastern city. In an attempt to improve the educational achievement of youth in this community this organization believed that it also must address interrelated problems in the community as well. In this thesis multiple factors which adversely influence the educational achievement of African American students are discussed within a framework which portrays socio-historical relationships between Blacks and Whites in the United States. This discussion provides a background for understanding persistent barriers which are often experienced by African Americans growing up in lower-income communities in their pursuit of goals for themselves and their children. A case study of the community organization describes the philosoph y and strategies which were chosen by the organization in order to overcome these barriers. Organizational leaders believed in a grassroots approach which would challenge business as usual" and would involve community residents as active participants in decisions which affected their community and their lives. However, even though several of the organizational leaders grew up in similar communities the activities which were carried out by the organization did not result in a process which actively involved community residents and challenged "business as usual. In attempting to explain this paradox this thesis looks at organizational processes at two levels. On one level activities which are likely to lead to a successful change effort are discussed by looking at a model for planned change called the Elaborated Leadership Obstacle Course Model. On the other level, beliefs which limit people's conceptions concerning the commonsensical way of going about things are addressed. In order to empower community members. it is necessary to utilize mean s IV
which empower in the process This thesis concludes by recommending participatory action research and Paulo Freire's empowerment education as strategies which can be used to bring about meaningful change. Abstract Approved:--------------------Major Professor: Patricia P. Waterman Ph.D. Professor Department of Anthropology Date Approved: Y ( / 9 9 5 v
CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION In the Spring and Summer of 1991, I participated with a community education projec t which was established in order to improve the opportunities and life chances of "at-risk 1 children and their families in a predominantly African American, inner-city neighborhood by forging links between community residents, service providers and educational personnel. An impressive network of supporters had been created, a $.50,000 planning grant was awarded by a local government funding agency and members enthusiastically worked to overcome the barriers which prevented children and families from achieving their goals for the future. During my participation with the project, I often was highly moved by members' stated concern for the welfare of children and families in the target community and their dedication to sustaining a collaborative effort focused on meeting the "real" needs of community residents, helping children by meeting family needs. strengthening community bonds, and affirming the necessity of involving community members as active participants in a process which would challenge "business as usual." However, by the end of my participation with the project in July of 1991. I was left wondering whether the project had made any significant impact on the lives of children and families in the target community, and if not, why this was so This thesis explores an understanding of issues addressed by this question. This exploration begins in Chapter 2 by examining factors leading to the lower educational I There i s some controversy over the term "at -risk" due to the lack of uniform agreement regarding definition o f the term an d also as the result of the term's potential t o conjure up negati, e assumpti ons regarding youth so labeled (Be rger 1 995). However, thi s term is u sed in this thesis t o refer to continuing barriers in the environments in which the youth grow up and does not attempt to reify another label for youth.
2 achievement of African American students. In this chapter, the interlocking effects of forces in the family, school, and community environments are shown to affect and be affected by beliefs and structural forces in the larger macroculture. This information portrays socio-historical relationships between African Americans and the larger American culture (i.e., the macroculture) which have been characterized by distrust due to the subordinate role that African Americans have endured as a result of beliefs and structural arrangements in the macroculture. Chapter 3 provides a description of the community organization which was created to overcome the negative effects that beliefs and structural arrangements within the larger American culture have had on an African American community in a large Southeastern city. This organization which I call United for Kids2 was originally created in order to address the growing truancy problem in the community, but was expanded to address interrelated problems in the community as well. This organization attempted to involve community residents and service providers in a collaborative effort to bring about changes in both the community and service systems. Through the direction provided by African American professionals as leaders of the organization, the organization aspired to create an effort which represented the interests of community residents and would lead to meaningful change. The development of the organization and events which occurred during my internship with the organization are described in this chapter. In Chapter 4, I address contradictions between the organization's stated ideals and actual practices in an analysis of events which occurred during the organization's development. This discussion provides a context where the cultural forces presented in Chapter 2 are played out in real life. This chapter provides strategies which can be used to overcome the perpetuation of microand macrocultural forces which maintain relationships of inequality. 2 All names and places referring to this organization are pseudonyms.
3 This thesis concludes by offering guidelines which organizations can use to overcome beliefs and practices which perpetuate the status quo and inhibit meaningful change from occurring. These include the adoption of practices which involve all participants as act ive contributors to the creation of a culture where everyone has a valued role.
CHAPTER 2. THEORIES EXPLAINING THE LOWER SCHOOL ACHIEVEMENT OF AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDENTS 4 Education traditionally has been viewed as the primary vehicle through which an individual can achieve upward mobility in American society. Farley and Allen ( 19f!:/: 188) point out that "As a society, we firmly believe that any citizen no matter how humble his or her beginnings can with sufficient industry and intelligence climb the educational ladder to a better life This belief, however, assumes that there are equal opportunities for individuals to succeed educationally and that educational success automatically translates into economic success. Experience has shown that this has not been the case for African Americans. Due to discriminatory hiring practices African Americans often ha ve been denied access to employment opportunities which typically are available to similarly educated Whites (Farley and Allen 19f!:/) Although affirmative action programs are intended to amend this situation, they have, for the most part, not received much support from the general American public (National Research Council 1989). Awareness of this situation, in addition to a variety of other factors adversely affects Black students' achievement in school: Only 62.8% of black 18 and 19 year-olds graduated from high school in 1985 compared to 76.7% of white students of this age. Despite improvements in standardized test scores of black students, they still lag well behind white students in the critical areas of reading science and math ... Although they comprise just 16% of total school enrollment in 1984. black students accounted for 37% of all placements in classes for the educable mentally retarded. The dropout rate for black students is alarming. In 1985. black 18 and 19 year-olds dropped out of school at a rate of 17.3 % nationally [Jacob 1989:141
5 African Americans, particularly those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, are found to be overrepresented in non-college bound lower track classes, but underrepresented in classes for the gifted and talented (Irvine 1990) African Americans have fared no better in higher education: "In 1980, 12 percent of young black women and 11 percent of young black men had completed four years of college compared with 22 percent of young white women and 25.5 percent of young white men" (National Research Council 1989:340). Furthermore, Kirsch and Jungeblut ( 1986) found that in a survey of adults aged 21-25 Blacks scored significantly lower than Whites on a series of practical literacy tasks which included skills such as reading newspaper articles, completing applications reading maps. balancing a checkbook, comprehending documents, writing a letter. and using bus schedules In order to understand the causes of differences between Blacks and Whites in educational achievement, it is necessary to examine the historical realities that have shaped race relations in the United States (Farley and Allen 1987 ) The Committee on Policy for Racial Justice ( 1989) describes the struggle of African Americans to improve educational opportunities which were available to them. Even in the midst of slavery, there was an intense desire among African Americans to learn to read and write (Committee on Policy for Racial Justice 1989). In the antebellum South. plantation owners provided training in the various trades that were needed on the plantation and taught Bible reading with an emphasis on passages which referred to the importance of being loyal to one's master. However, due to the growing abolitionist movement and slave insurrection s. from 1 8 1 7 through 1835, anti-education edicts were strictly enforced. Only 5 % of the South's four million slaves were literate by the time of the Civil War (Committee on Policy for Raci a l Justice 1989). The schooling that did occur before the Brown vs. the Board of Education decision was provided by segregated free Black sc hools which received few resources a nd littl e
6 support from the larger school system and society (Ogbu 1990a). From the 1930's through the 1960's, Blacks focused their efforts to improve educational opportunities on the legal strategy that separate schools were not equal schools. This effort was rewarded in 1954 when the Supreme Court ruled that segregated schools were unconstitutional in the Brown vs. the Board of Education decision. Although desegregation has had its costs to the Black community (Irvine 1990), the academic achievement of African Americans has improved since that time (National Research Council 1989). However, as described earlier, Black students still are not doing as well in school as are White students. Theories which explain the lower school achievement of African American students differ according to which aspects of the child's environment are viewed as affecting school achievement to the greatest extent. Some of these theories locate the source of poor school achievement as resulting from a child's home life--the family peer group and communit y in which a child is raised ( Clark 1983; Smith 1968), whereas others view factors within the school as determining school success or failure (Edmonds 1979 ; Moody and Mood y 1988). Other theories explain poor school achievement as resulting from discontinuitie s between the culture of the school and that of the home (Heath 1982 ; Voght Jordan and Tharp 1987). Other researchers point out that schools do not operate within a vacuum and examine the effect that structural forces within the larger society have on Black students chances for school success (Ogbu 1974 ; 1978 ; 1982; 1987 ; 1990a ; 1990b ) These theorie s are not mutually exclusive--each contributes to a more complete understanding of the multiple dimensions of the problem. Cultural Ecology Theory Cultural ecology theory, as proposed by Urie Brofenbrenner ( 1979), provides a model within which the multiple factors affecting Black student achievement can be examined In cultural ecology theory the course of an individual's development is influenced by multiple
7 social systems which interact with each other and the characteristics of an individual in a process which is unique for each child. Brofenbrenner (1979: 11, 41) describes this approach: It seeks to provide a unified but highly differentiated conceptual scheme for describing and interrelating structures and processes in both the immediate and more remote environment as it shapes the course of human development through the life span .... In ecological research, the properties of the person and the environment, the structure of environmental settings, and the processes taking place within and between them must be viewed as interdependent and analyzed in system terms. (n a cultural ecology model, a social system can be pictured as a set of lower-order systems which overlap and are contained within a series of higher-order systems. The microsystem is the setting where the individual interacts with others ( e .g., the school home or peer group ) The system which exists as the result of interaction between two or more microsystems ( e .g., the relationship between home and school ) is called the mesosystem. The individual also is affected by events that occur in settings which the individual rarely enters ( e.g . a parent's workplace or school board meetings ) This level is called the exosystem. These systems all are contained within the macros y stem defined as "consistencies, in the form and content of lower-order systems that exist or could exist. at the level of the subculture or the culture as a whole along with an y belief s y stems or ideology underlying such consistencies" ( Brofenbrenner 1979:26 ) Public polic y and the underlying worldview which shapes its form and content are part of the macros y stem. As applied to the school achievement of Black students an ecological perspective examines the effect that the family the peer group the community the school. and the larger society have on an individual's achievement in school. Rather than seeing the problem and hence the solution as being the sole responsibilit y of one part y (e.g the school or the home) an ecological explanation suggests that many sectors of society should be involved in a process of self-examination so that each sector can identif y and amend
8 practices which contribute to a perpetuation of the problem. In this chapter, several theories explaining the lower school achievement of Black students are discussed within a cultural ecology framework. Explanations outlined by each theory as to the predominant cause of the problem provide valuable information concerning strategies for change which are available to those who seek to improve the educational future of African American youth. Cultural Deficit Theories In order to understand the effect that beliefs in the macroculture have had on African Americans a review of historical explanations for lower educational achievement is presented. From the beginnings of social science to about 1930, the principal explanation for the poor achievement of Black students was rooted in Social Darwinian notions which held that darker skinned people occupied a lower position on the evolutionary scale than people of lighter skin color ( Bennett and LeCompte 1990 ; Boykin 1986 ; Committee on Policy for Racial Justice 1989 ; Erickson 1987). According to this view, Black people s educational achievement was limited by their biology; poor school achievement was attributed to an inferior moral and intellectual capacity Although the scientific weaknesses and political contexts of biological determinist arguments have been demonstrated ( Gould 1981 ), the National Research Council (1989: 10) points out that "remnants of the genetic inferiority argument are still prevalent today I In the 1960's genetic deficit explanations gave way to explanations focused on the "deficient" cultural backgrounds of African American children: "Nurture replaced nature a s I In fact a res urfacing of the se erroneous ideas s eems to reappear cyclicall y in the popular c ullur e as s h o wn during the I %()' s when Arthur R. J e n se n w as a proponent o f the se ide as and m o r e r ecently b y a book by Charles Murra y and Richard Herm s tein entitled The B e ll C urv e ( 1994) which also es pou ses genetic deficit arguments.
9 the main reason for school failure" (Erickson 1987:335). According to cultural deficit theories, children of color were viewed as coming from a "culture of poverty" which did not adequately prepare them to function in the larger society (Bennett and LeCompte 1990). Boy kin ( 1986:59) describes the picture which educators had of these children and their families: Black children were seen as growing up in a web of social pathology and inadequate life experiences. The attitudes and behaviors produced by those experiences might enable the children to cope with their immediate environment but left them unprepared to handle even the minimum requirements of the larger world around them. In order to arrest the cycle of this "culture of poverty" and compensate for the children's "deprived" cultural backgrounds, compensatory programs such as Headstart and Title I were established. Studies have shown that remediation programs do enhance the school achievement of Black children, but the effects of such programs tend to lose much of their impact over time due to the increasing influence of other factors such as the effects of the peer group (National Research Council 1989). In criticism of explanations which label Black and other minority culture children as being culturally disadvantaged, Bennett and LeCompte ( 1990) point out that the term culture is misused in the anthropological sense, since what was being described was a response to oppressive conditions rather than a people's way of life. These children functioned quite well in their own cultural environments where mainstream children could be considered culturally disadvantaged. According to Mickelson and Smith (1990: 106), cultural deficit theory places "the blame for social dislocations on its victims while it conceals, or at best underplays the social structural causes of poverty and the social havoc it wreaks." Erickson (1987) suggests that cultural deficit explanations were attractive precisely because they allowed frustrated educators to place the blame for school failure of minority children elsewhere.
10 Several researchers point out that perceiving the poor school achievement of minority youth as stemming from a deficient cultural background often results in a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby low teacher expectations in combination with practices such as ability-grouping and tracking negatively affect minority children's achievement in school (Chunn 1989; Committee on Policy for Racial Justice 1989; Irvine 1990; National Research Council 1989). Tracking and ability-grouping have been described as part of a hidden curriculum which is less demanding and is believed "to allocate and socialize Blacks toward lower levels of attainment and achievement" (National Research Council 1989:356). Ethnographic research (e.g., Page 1987; Rist 1970) has shown that instruction is systematically different between tracks and that lower ability tracks spend more time in rote-training, workbook lessons, and mindless procedure (Committee on Policy for Racial Justice 1989). Cultural deficit theories are not incorrect in suggesting that families have an effect on their children's school achievement; their error is in viewing the cause of school failure as predominantly the result of the "deficient" cultural backgrounds of minority children rather than as the result also of forces within the school and larger society which impact the developing child and the family. At the basis of cultural deficit explanations is an ethnocentric worldview which assumes that mainstream culture and values are the gold standard against which all others should be compared (Bennett and LeCompte 1990). The Effect of Family Life Several researchers have examined the family's impact on the school achievement of children within a framework that does not view the child's home life from an ethnocentric perspective (Clark 1983; Heath 1982; Smith 1968; Ogbu 1974). Reginald Clark's ethnographic study ( 1983) based on case studies of ten low-income Black families in
11 Chicago identifies differences in socialization patterns within families of high and low achievers in schools. Half of the families in each group were single parents. Clark found that it is the quality of the overall lifestyle in the home, not variables such as income level and number of parents within the home, that largely determines school achievement. In Clark's study, the family is viewed as "the basic institution through which children learn who they are, where they fit into society, and what kinds of futures they are likely to experience" (Epps in foreword of Clark 1983:ix). According to Clark, families teach children essential "survival knowledge" necessary for children to succeed socially and academically in the classroom. He states that parents' past and current experiences--the parents' own upbringing, support networks, position in the marketplace, social relationships in the home, and relationships and experiences in the community and larger society--all affect the family's ability to transfer essential survival knowledge to their children. Clark suggests that due to these influences, some parents are better equipped to prepare their children to be successful in school and society than are others. Clark describes the types of activities, interactional styles, and support systems that are found within the homes of high and low achievers in school. Families with high achievers set clear educational and behavioral standards, monitored their children's social contacts and progress in school, and were found to be nurturing and warm. Families of low achievers, on the other hand were not involved in their children's activities and parents were limited by feelings of depression and an external locus of control (National Research Council 1989; Williams 1989). Clark's study draws attention to the "hideous degree of stress many parents undergo in their daily psychological and emotional routines" and questions "state-sanctioned stereotypes and assumptions about family cultural patterns and needs (e.g. inaccurately describing family life-styles and customs in the mass media ) (Clark 1983:209).
12 The Effect of Cultural Differences In the late 1960's, explanations for school failure shifted from cultural deficit theories to theories explaining poor school achievement as the result of cultural differences between the home and the school (Bennett and LeCompte 1990; Erickson 1987). According to Erickson ( 1987:336): This was a culturally relativist position. It blamed neither the children of the poor nor the school staff. Rather it provided a way of seeing classroom troubles as inadvertent misunderstandings--teachers and students playing into each other's blind spots. Culture can be pictured as a blueprint for interpreting and communicating with the world and its inhabitants. A person's cultural background so thoroughly affects the way that one views and interacts with the world that a person often believes that his or her perspective is reality and therefore, assumes that others perceive the world in the same way. These processes ordinarily operate at an unconscious level, and therefore people from different cultural backgrounds often unknowingly interpret each other's speech and behavior according to a different set of cultural rules and assumptions. For example in classrooms, Anglo teachers sometimes interpret the downward gaze of Native American students when being spoken to as evidence that they are not interested in learning. However according to many Native American cultures, these students are showing the proper deference to authority by averting their eyes (Greenbaum and Greenbaum 1983). Another instance of cultural misunderstanding is the perception of Native American parents that Anglo teachers are yelling at their children in the classroom. This misunderstanding, however, is the result of differences in volume customarily characterizing speech behaviors in the Anglo and Native American cultures (Greenbaum and Greenbaum 1983). Misinterpreting the speech and behaviors of members of other cultures by invoking the rules of our own often results in conflict and the reinforcement of negative stereotypes.
13 Dell Hymes (1971:56) calls such misunderstandings sociolinguistic interference which he defines as "problems of perception, understanding, and acquisition of habits that result from perceptions of the manifestations of one system in terms of the structure of another." Thomas Kochman (1981) describes the friction which occurs in interactions between Blacks and Whites as a result of these processes. He states (1981 :8): Blacks and whites assume they are operating according to identical speech and cultural conventions and that these are the conventions the socially dominant white group has established as standard. This assumption--besides adding to the disruptive capacity of cultural differences--speaks to the general public failure to recognize that black norms and conventions in these areas differ from those of whites. In American public schools, teachers who operate according to mainstream cultural norms often find themselves in situations where they are teaching children from diverse cultural backgrounds. In an effort to be colorblind--to treat children "equally"--teachers may ignore the impact of the cultural backgrounds of children. Although often meaning well, by treating these children the same, these teachers are not treating them "equally," i.e. with equal respect and equal opportunities to succeed in school. Such situations have become all too common in a society where people from different cultural backgrounds are not knowledgeable, for the most part, about cultural differences beyond those which are transmitted through stereotypes. Greenbaum and Greenbaum ( 1983:30) state that "inadvertent cultural differences in communication styles are the touchstones of not only misunderstandings but also of growing mutual antagonism, which greatly diminishes motivation by the students to participate in the learning process." Compounding this problem in the case of Black Americans is the fact that they are often not regarded as having a distinct cultural tradition which has its roots in Africa, but are viewed as having a culture which is a pathological version of the larger mainstream American culture (Hale-Benson 1986). For example, the Black vernacular is viewed as an
14 inability on the part of Black Americans to master standard English rather than as a legitimate dialect of English with its own standards of grammar and logic. Boykin (1986) suggests that African Americans are faced with the challenge of negotiating three different realms of experience--mainstream American culture, a Black culture with its roots in a traditional West African ethos, and the experience of being an oppressed minority in the United States. Neisser ( 1986:5) summarizes this perspective: American blacks must negotiate their way through three separate realms of experience: They have to deal with the daily facts of poverty and oppression they share many of the values of the majority group that is oppressing them and they maintain a cultural identity that is particularly difficult to reconcile with those values Although members of all ethnic groups within the United States are faced with the challenge of fusing two or more cultural traditions Boykin points out that for African Americans this is an especially difficult task since elements of traditional West African culture are diametrically opposed to elements which are rewarded in Euro-American culture. He describes "Black culture" as having a distinctive cultural deep structure which differs markedly from that of the Euro-American culture (Boy kin: 1986): The African perspective emphasizes spiritualism, whereas the Euro-American one emphasizes materialism. The former stresses harmony with nature ; the latter stresses mastery over nature. The first relies on organic metaphors the second on mechanistic ones. An orientation toward expressive movement contrasts with a compressive orientation toward impulse control. One culture emphasizes interconnectedness, whereas the other puts a premium on separateness; one values affect, and other places reason above all else. An event orientation toward time contrasts with a clock orientation; and an orally-based culture with one based on print. In Mrican culture there is an interplay between expressive individualism and communalism, so that possessions belong to the community at large and uniqueness is valued. Euro-American culture juxtaposes possessive individualism and an egalitarian conformity: private property is an inalienable right and sameness is valued. Boy kin points out that all of these influences impact the developing individual in a variety of ways and warns not to underestimate the diversity and heterogeneity found within African American culture. This caution applies to all cultures and groups of any type.
15 Cultural differences which can affect minority students' achievement in school have been divided into four classes of variables (Tharp 1989). Intercultural differences in social organization patterns, reinforcement practices, cognitive or learning styles, and sociolinguistic patterns have been found to contribute to the poor school achievement of some students. One project, the Kamehameha Elementary Education Program ( KEEP), found that when the schooling process incorporated instructional techniques, social organization patterns, and reinforcement practices which were congruent with the children's home culture that at-risk" Hawaiian children performed significantly better on standardized reading tests (Voght, Jordan, and Tharp 1987). Not only did the children score at or above grade level norms on standardized reading tests but the schooling process went much more smoothly resulting in an environment which was more pleasant for everyone involved. The instructional techniques adopted by KEEP draw upon sociolinguistic patterns (Hymes 1971)--patterns governing verbal and nonverbal communication--found in native Hawaiian speech networks. When the Hawaiian children were taught reading through didactic instruction in phonics and rules for decoding new words, they scored in the lowest quartile on standardized tests in reading. Yet when reading lessons were modeled after a native Hawaiian linguistic event--the "talk-story" which is characterized by overlapping speech, voluntary tum-taking, conarration and joint construction of a story--scores on standardized tests dramatically improved. In these highly interactive reading lessons students would relate events in their lives to small segments of the text and then bring all the segments together at the end by discussing the overall pattern or meaning. Not onl y did this instructional technique draw upon participation structures which were familiar to native Hawaiian children it also incorporated the children's cognitive learning style in which learning is bound within a meaningful context.
16 The KEEP classrooms also incorporated knowledge about Hawaiian social organization patterns into the classroom structure. While the teacher went over the reading lesson with a small group of students, groups of 4-5 students of mixed gender and ability would help each other at learning centers throughout the classroom This technique was compatible with a home culture where children often were helped more by peers than by adults KEEP teachers also learned to use reinforcement strategies which were compatible with the home culture. For example rather than use direct praise which focused attention on an individual student, teachers found that indirect praise focused towards the group was more effective. In addition, teachers managed classroom behavior by showing both warmth and finnness--a balance which is respected among Hawaiian children in their own interactions. This model was applied with mixed results to a group of Navajo students on the Rough Rock reservation. Reinforcement and class management techniques which were used successfully with Hawaiian children proved disastrous when applied to Navajo children The practice of being finn by quickly extinguishing any challenging behaviors resulted in standoffs between teacher and student. Teachers found that managing disruptive beha v ior was best dealt with by lowering one's eyes and speaking to the whole class about proper standards of behavior only referring indirectly to the disruptive behavior of individual students. In addition although sibling caretaking and mutual helping are common in Navajo culture. the children who were assigned to help each other in small groups often would ignore each other at learning centers even when it was evident that help was needed. When infonnation concerning Navajo cultural rules separating boys and girls in roles and interaction was incorporated into group assignments the resulting combination of 2-3 students in same-sex groups was found to work well. With minor adjustments the reading lesson model used with Hawaiian children was used successfully with Navajo children Rather than talking about the story in segments. Navajo children preferred to read the entire
17 story before discussing its meaning--a behavior which is consistent with a holistic cognitive style. The KEEP study points out that achievement in school can be improved by implementing pedagogical strategies which are compatible with the home culture of students. Fordham (1991) describes a school where Black students' achievement improved dramatically when components of Black Americans' cultural norms were incorporated into the social organization of the school. According to the principal of the school, Black students were not motivated to achieve in school because schools forced them to choose between their peers and school success. Drawing upon the pattern of "self-realization through personal effort in service to the group" ( Fordham 1991:87 ) found in Black culture, instruction was organized in such a way that individuals were rewarded based on the performance of the class Students were allowed to play on sports teams and attend dances based on the performance of their class. After implementing this strategy in which school success and cultural identity were inseparable, this school moved from the bottom of school rankings to being in the top 11% of all city public schools. But if cultural differences are so important in explaining the lower school achievement of students from minority cultures John Ogbu ( 1990b) asks why some minority students (e.g., Asian Americans) tend to succeed in school while others (e.g. Native Americans and African Americans) tend to do poorly. One possible explanation is that some cultures may be more compatible with mainstream American culture than are others. For example Boykin (1986) suggests that the Japanese value of self-cultivation is congruent with the value of the Puritan work ethic found in mainstream American culture. Others ( Tharp 1989) suggest that Asian Americans possess a cognitive learning style which is rewarded in American public schools although not all members of a cultural group maintain th e
18 characteristics of their culture's stereotype. This issue raised by Ogbu is returned to when opportunities in the labor market are discussed. The Effective Schools Movement Literature from the effective schools movement provides examples of schools where low income Black and White children are doing as well as middle-class White students despite differences between the culture of the home and the school. Ron Edmonds the founder of this movement believed that all children can be educated. He states ( 1979:23 ): We can whenever and wherever we choose successfully teach all children whose schooling is of interest to us; we already know more than we need to do that ; and whether or not we do it must finally depend on how we feel about the fact that we have not so far. Edmonds believed that the Jack of school achievement by Black students is a political i ssue: s chools function to socialize students to accept the adult roles ascribed to them--some children are prepared for high status roles whereas others are prepared for low status roles ( Moody and Mood y 1988). Edmonds studied schools where low income Black and White students were doing as well as White middle class students and found that these schools shared four characteristics : I ) principals who were strong instructional leaders: 2 ) a climate of high expectations in a safe orderly environment ; 3 ) an emphasis on the teaching of basic skills : and 4 ) frequent monitoring of pupil progress (Edmonds 1979 ; Moody and Moody 1988). Numerous studies describe the characteristics of effective schools in more depth (Irvine 1990 ; Moody and Moody 1988 ; Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory 1990). Literature from the effective schools movement demonstrates that principals and teachers who are jointly committed to the teaching of all students can be successful regardless of students' ethnic or socioeconomic background
19 Parent Involvement in Schools In addition to the lack of attention paid to the underlying values transmitted to students who successfully absorb the information provided by effective schools, the effective schools movement is criticized for its lack of emphasis concerning the importance of parent involvement. According to Comer Hayes, and Hamilton-Lee ( 1987:228 ) : A significant flaw of the effective school movement is the limited value given to parental involvement. ... fin our model, parent involvement] .... is viewed as particularly essential to the improvement of school climate and the enhancement of academic achievement among black children who may perceive home and school as being separate entities more than do other students. In the School Development Program ( Comer, Hayes, and Hamilton-Lee 1987 ), the staff of the Yale Child Study Center implemented a program within New Haven public schools which involved parents school staff, and mental health professionals in a collaborative process which focused on the needs of the child. An essential characteristic of their model was changing the bureaucratic method of management to a system of democratic participation in which parents play a key role (Comer, Hayes and Hamilton-Lee 1987:230 ) The Committee on Policy for Racial Justice ( 1989:27 ) describe effects of the process initiated by the School Development Program : Distrust often runs high between families and the schools that serve low-income and minority children . . Yet the New Haven experience has demonstrated that when parents participate in the schools in meaningful well-conceived. and structured ways they come to identify with the school's academic concerns .... Teachers and parents are seen as being in alliance. working for and believing in common intellectual and social goals Parents also begin to develop a sense of ownership of the school and feelings of responsibility for academic success. Educational aspirations expand and begin to spread from students to their families as parents decide to reinvest in their own educations. Williams ( 1989) supports the concept of school site governance structures--composed of teachers. the general public, site and district managers. technical consultants. and parents and students--which would have budgetary. curriculum. and personnel powers over single schools. but points out that the School Development Program was a very expensive
20 undertaking which was initiated by a powerful third party (the Yale Child Study Center). Williams suggests that parents can initiate the formation of such governance structures by employing the organizational base of their neighborhood organization to demand a voice in their children's schooling. The Labor Market Explanation John Ogbu (1974; 1978; 1982; 1987; 1990a; 1990b) examines economic and historical forces at the macrolevel in order to explain why Black students generally have not done well in American public schools. He describes African Americans, along with Native Americans and Mexican Americans, as being "involuntary" minorities which have been relegated to the bottom of American society. According to Ogbu, these students do not do well in school, because they feel their employment opportunities are limited to the lower status jobs which traditionally have been filled by involuntary minorities in the United States. These students are not motivated to succeed in school because they do not believe that achievement in school will lead to economic success. Bennett and LeCompte ( 1990:217) summarize this idea: [Involuntary minorities] may pay lip service to the notion that success in school will lead to success in later economic life but in actuality their experience of racism and oppression in this country prevents them from buying into the myth that ascending the socioeconomic ladder of success requires succeeding in the education system Ogbu supports the concept of a job ceiling by pointing out the relationship between the education historically afforded to Blacks and the economic opportunities available at the time. Blacks traditionally were taught trade skills useful to the plantation economy and were discouraged from reading, but ironically, when the South urbanized and many factory jobs opened up, the focus of Black education shifted to academics while industrial education became the emphasis of White schools. Ogbu concludes that "if historically
21 Blacks did not qualify for desirable jobs, it was because their education was designed to disqualify them, not because they were incompetent" ( 1990a: 125). Ogbu contrasts involuntary minorities with immigrant or "voluntary minorities" who despite differences in language and culture, are frequently high achievers in school, often surpassing White middle class students in school achievement. Immigrant minorities, although often subject to discrimination and limited job opportunities, compare their situation favorably with that of their homeland. Although often in similar economic circumstances as involuntary minorities, voluntary minorities see the situation as temporary. Ogbu asserts that Blacks' historical experience of slavery oppression, and racism in the United States has led to the development of a Black cultural frame of reference which is in opposition to mainstream American culture. Behaviors, symbols, and meanings which are associated with mainstream culture are rejected by involuntary minorities who associate these attributes with "acting White" (Ogbu 1990b:53): The tendency to equate Standard English, the school curriculum and the standard behaviors of the school with White American culture has resulted in conscious or unconscious opposition to or in ambivalence toward the learning and using of these essential aspects of schooling on the part of America's involuntary minorities. Success in school may be viewed as a "White way of behaving and is therefore discouraged by peers. Voluntary or immigrant minorities on the other hand have a cultural frame of reference which is different but not oppositional to the mainstream culture. Unlike minorities who view adoption of aspects of mainstream culture as replacing their Black cultural identity immigrant minorities view the acquisition of mainstream language and schooling as an additional set of tools. Margaret Gibson ( 1987) found this to be the case in her stud y of Punjabi Indians in Valleyside California. Punjabi parents encouraged their children to adopt the behaviors needed to be successful in school, while they guarded against
22 assimilation by telling their children to avoid socializing with American peers outside of school. According to Gibson (1987:274): Many minority students, especially involuntary minorities, see cultural conformity as the price required for school success because this is the model set by the school themselves. To encourage students to cross ethnic boundaries within classroom settings, educators would do well consciously and explicitly to foster learning environments where students are given full opportunity to participate in the mainstream of society while also, if they so choose, maintaining their separate cultures and identities. Ogbu's labor market theory developed as the result of extensive ethnographic work which he conducted in Burgherside, a Stockton, California neighborhood consisting predominantly of African Americans and Mexican Americans. In The Next Generation (1974), he describes ways in which the dim economic opportunities available to Burgherside residents translate into the poor school achievement of their children. He describes a situation where Burgherside parents "push" their children to do well in school while peer groups "pull" students away from academic success. While Burgherside parents directly state to their children the importance of succeeding in school, they indirectly convey, through their own personal experiences and through discussions with friends, their beliefs that succeeding in school will not really make a difference in their children's later economic success. He also describes ways in which teachers and other adults contribute to the children's low rate of school success For example teachers and other adults believe that Burgherside parents should become more involved in their children's schooling in order to improve their achievement, yet the parents do not become involved because they feel powerless to change things in a situation characterized by a patron-client relationship. According to Ogbu, schools in all societies reflect the basic social organization of each society, and what is taught in school is usually determined by the dominant group in that society. Ogbu believes that in order to improve the school achievement of African Americans, barriers which limit their opportunities in the job market first must be
23 addressed. In response, he asserts, schools will shift their instruction in order to better prepare youngsters for their future roles in society. Ogbu states ( 1978:357): The elimination of caste barriers is the only lasting solution to the problem of academic retardation. Programs that seek to change school policies and practices and to help Blacks develop new attitudes and skills are necessary but auxiliary components of this strategy and cannot by themselves prove effective in solving the problem of school failure among castelike minorities in the United States and elsewhere. Creating Legitimate Schools While acknowledging the impact that structural forces in the economy have on the achievement of involuntary minorities in school, Frederick Erickson ( 19f57) does not accept the dismal implications that this view portends for educators and students from minority backgrounds. He states ( 19f57:352): As an educator I cannot accept the premise that there is nothing we can do to improve the educational situation of domestic minority students in the United States. I am not simply willing to wait for a revolution in the general society. As Apple and Weis have pointed out, there are progressive choices people can make in their own immediate circumstances while they also work for social change in the wider society. The task is not only to analyze the structural conditions by which inequity is reproduced in society but to search out every possible site in which the struggle for progressive transformation can take place In his framework based on resistance theory Erickson merges the cultural difference explanation and Ogbu's labor market theory by viewing school motivation and achievement as a political process which revolves around the issues of institutional and personal legitimacy, identity, and economic interest Erickson points out that learning is a process which is occurring all the time and therefore, he considers the act of not learning in school as a form of political resistance by students. He asserts that, in order to learn one must trust that the teacher and the school has one's best interests at heart.
24 Erickson describes legitimacy and trust as institutional phenomena which are located in the social structure and role relationships which are developed in a society over Long periods of time and also as existential and emergent phenomena which are co-created in day-to-day encounters between people. He provides an example of interaction at the classroom level in which a teacher unknowingly alienates the children she is teaching. In this encounter drawn from research by Piestrup (1973:96-97), a teacher is talking with a first grade classroom of Black children: 1 T: All right, class, read that and remember your endings. 2 C: What did Little Duck see? (final t of "what" deleted) 3T: What. 4 C: What (final t deleted, as in turn 2) 5 T : I still don't hear this sad little "t." 6 C: What did What did-What--(final t's deleted ) 7T: What. 8 T &C: What did Little Duck see? (final t spoken) 9 T: OK, very good. Piestrup found that in first grade classrooms where Black students were corrected when using the Black English vernacular by the end of the year these students were using a more exaggerated form of nonstandard English. In those classrooms where children were not sanctioned for using the Black English vernacular children spoke in a way which more approximated standard English by the end of the year. By drawing attention to the children's communication style in a negative way, these teachers were inadvertentl y reinforcing the very behavior they were trying to change (Erickson 1987). Erickson points out that as Black students repeatedly experience similar encounters with authorities in school and in the Larger society they develop an oppositional frame of
25 reference as "a symbol of their disaffiliation with what they experience (not necessarily within full reflective awareness) as an illegitimate and oppressive system" ( 1987:348). Erickson describes instances of classroom interaction such as the one described by Piestrup as being hegemonic practices--unexamined beliefs and routine actions which serve to maintain the unequal power relations in society. He asserts that as actions which people carry out, such practices are within the range of human choice, and therefore can be altered. Erickson maintains that labor market inequity and cultural conflicts derived from differences in communication styles are both barriers to the development of a relationship between students, parents, and teachers which is based on trust. He states ( 1978:355): If the ordinary public school is to be perceived as legitimate the school must earn that perception by its local minority community. This involves a profound shift in the direction of daily practice and its symbolism, away from hegemonic practice and toward transformative practice .... [Culturally responsive pedagogy] is a positive option for educators who wish through critically reflective practice, to improve the chances for learning by their students and to improve their own work life as well. Creating Alternative Educational Institutions Research conducted by Douglas Glasgow ( 1980) supports the positions of both Erickson and Ogbu In his study of30 teen-aged Black males in Watts Los Angeles in the 1960's Glasgow describes the young men's first encounter with desegregated schools. These young men previously had gone to segregated schools and, believing that a good education was the key to getting a decent job in the future, they looked forward to attending integrated schools. They found, however, an alien world which did not validate--in fact, openly denigrated--the world from which these young men came ( 1980:58): What really made these young men angry was the explicit and implicit put-down of those things that were the core of their lives. For example, Black dance music and modes of communication were viewed negatively and characterized as improper. Additionally, their whole living environment--their parents and
26 community people in general. ... their homes, furnishings, food and social codes--was assigned a negative value or at best not given appropriate respect. ... Understandably, the young ghetto Blacks reacted to this treatment with resentment and defensiveness. Although these young men looked forward to attending desegregated schools where they believed they would acquire the education necessary for getting a good job, their experiences in the schools and in job-hunting resulted in the belief that schools encouraged them to sell out their culture for goals that were unattainable. All of the men in the study could provide examples of men they knew who had earned high school diplomas but could not find decent jobs due to job market discrimination. Only six of the thirty men acquired their high school diplomas. Having been failed by schools Black ghetto males turn to instructors in what Eugene Perkins (1975) calls the Street Institution in order to learn how to survive Men encountered in the community such as hustlers, militants, pimps working men and members of street gangs provide the role models which these young men emulate Young women in the community have an analogous set of female instructors to learn from Perkins (1975: 173) states that as important as the Street Institution is to the survi v al o f ghetto youth it must be abolished in order for them to overcome their oppressed st a tus: The function of the Street Institution is to help children cope with oppression but not to overcome it. ... It cannot help black children plan for the future because it is so immersed in the daily struggle of survival. ... However making it in the streets does not mean one will make it in the world ... to only teach him how to survive is to deny h i m those skills which could help him to gain control over his destiny. In order to overcome oppression Perkins emphasizes the need for the Black communit y to develop alternative institutions which will teach the knowledge and skills necessar y f or Black youth to succeed ( 1975: 174) : These new institutions must teach a child more than just how to survive ( though they cannot exclude the teaching of survival skills) but how to take command o f himself and begin to strengthen his community through positive actions .... these new institutions ... must be systematically woven into every fibre in the bla c k
27 community to weave together a collective garment which can bring all black people closer together .... alternative institutions must be committed toward the making of a new black child, one free from identity conflict, self persecution negative identification and the feeling of hopelessness. Perkins maintains that one of the most essential areas in need of an alternative institution is the area of education. Janice Hale-Benson ( 1982) shares this belief in her model of an alternative educational curriculum for African American children. Her model deals with three components of the educational process: ideology, method, and content. HaleBenson and others (e.g., Sizemore 1990; Sleeter 1991; Yeakey and Bennett 1990) envision the desirable end goal of education as being not only "education for survival," but also "education for struggle." In this view, ideally all students, but particularly those from cultures which have been historically oppressed should be exposed to an accurate portrayal of historical and contemporary events so that forces that contribute to the perpetuation of the oppressed status of racial and lower socioeconomic groups are revealed. Rather than adopt the competitive, individualistic ethic fostered in American public schools, Hale-Benson supports a school environment for Black children which teaches them to work together towards the creation of a more equitable society. Yeakey and Bennett ( 1990:90-93) state: We must abandon the "lifeboat ethic"--the ideology of an age of scarcity in which those who have, defend themselves against the needs of those who have less .... [we should teach the politics of community] based on the idea that all members of society have a responsibility to every other member. ... [We need] schooling for service, for liberation, for social enlightenment, for citizenship for personal and group power, and for social advancement. The goal of teachers of African American students, in Hale-Benson's opinion is to teach Black children to become bicultural--to learn about and develop pride in their African and African American heritage, while also adopting the skills and knowledge which are needed to succeed in the larger American culture. Teachers who are the most prepared to guide African American children along this process will most likely have mastered this "duality of socialization" themselves. In Hale-Benson's model, the curriculum is integrated
28 and taught in a way which is congruent with the children's African American cultural heritage. For example, the curriculum is designed to incorporate movement in order to accommodate the higher verve characterizing many Mrican American children This model also is designed to involve parents in a process which is informed about the circumstances of parents' lives while being sensitive to their needs, aspirations and capabilities. According to Hale-Benson ( 1982: 174-175): Parental involvement programs designed with the suburban housewife in mind are inappropriate for most Black school programs .... The parental program must reflect a balanced view of the Black lower-income family. The teacher must be able to conceptualize the adaptive aspects of the family ... On the other hand, poverty must not be romanticized .... Most Black lower-income parents have high aspirations for themselves and their children. However, often they are not in the flow of information that enables them to realize those aspirations. Therefore, a balanced parental involvement program should share information with the parents that will assist them in their struggle for survival and achievement. She suggests that schools offer seminars on topics which are of interest to parents such as preparing for job interviews. Parents should also be taught information concerning nutrition, child development, learning theory and Mrican and African American culture so that parents and teachers can complement each other's efforts. A Call for Action Although there may be differences in opinion concerning the desired end goals of the education of African American students in terms of ideological matters, basically, there is agreement that, at a minimum African American students should be provided an equity-based education which has four dimensions (Moody and Moody 1988: 185): --Access: As it relates to schools, classes programs and activities --Process: As it relates to the fair equitable, and humane treatment of students, parents, and staff.
29 --Achievement: As it relates to graduation rates dropout rates test scores awards, rewards, and recognition. --Transfer: As it relates to additional educational opportunities, but eventually into jobs that will provide equal pay, privilege, power, and prestige. Differences in opinion basically revolve around two questions: 1 ) According to what philosophy should African American children be taught? and 2 ) What route ( s ) should be taken to improve the educational achievement of African American youth? Asa Hilliard ( 1988) supports efforts towards the rebuilding of a cohesive African American community which would rediscover its shared African and African American heritage and ensure the successful socialization of children to assume responsible positions within the communit y Such a community would open up a collective dialogue to debate different opinions concerning the above questions so that community-based efforts could be planned and implemented. Hilliard states ( 1988:205): A cohesive community would have a clear sense of direction for education and systematic ways of working to ensure that education takes place. In fact, the family must see itself as the primary educator. Formal public schools would then be an offshoot of group activities toward self-education According to Hilliard, a cohesive community would set educational goals for its children provide role models, monitor the progress of children, define what is legitimate and illegitimate, and provide fiscal support for socialization and educational processes which might involve establishing additional structures that would augment the work that goes on in public schools. Yeakey and Bennett ( 1990) encourage African American families to take responsibility for their children's school achievement by fostering a love of learning in themselves and in their children. They provide concrete examples of ways that families can contribute to their children's success in school (Yeakey and Bennett 1990:94 ) : Minority families themselves have a responsibility to instill the highest of expectations in their youngsters .... taking responsibility for their children's television watching, encouraging youngsters to read, and setting aside
30 uninterrupted study time are part of that responsibility. Attendance at school meetings and involvement in school organizations, while maintaining regular contact with classroom teachers, helps parents monitor student progress. Yeakey and Bennett (1990) ask individuals who have been able to move away from low-income minority communities to invest their time, money and themselves back into the communities where they grew up. Businesses also can contribute to this process by providing incentives in the form of jobs and job-training that will motivate African American students to succeed in school (Johnson Dwyer, and Spade 1989) According to Yeakey and Bennett (1990:94), African American youth also must take a part in this process by assuming: ... responsibility for themselves, their conduct their respect for the rights of others and the level of effort they put forth to learn under the wor s t of circumstances. In firm rejection of the notion that simply passing or "getting over" is enough, minority youngsters must raise the ceiling of their own aspirations. As this chapter has pointed out, there are many things that schools can do to improve the opportunities for African American students to succeed in school. Principals can ser v e as catalysts for the revitalization of hope and efforts of school staff to co-create effective schools while also serving as advocates within the school system and larger society. The y can foster learning environments which value and respect cultural diversity and which challenge hegemonic practices. They can support culturally congruent instructional techniques by offering opportunities for staff development and by undergoing the painful yet rewarding process of critical self-reflection themselves. They can discourage practices such as tracking and ability-grouping. They can also serve as effective managers who treat their staff with dignity and respect and reward staff members who take positive initiatives. Principals can also initiate parent involvement programs which treat parents with respect and encourage them to adopt more powerful roles in their children's schooling Scho o ls can provide classes for parents which equip them with knowledge and skills which enable them to become even better parents and individuals. Perhaps what is most important is for
31 school staff to become knowledgeable about the cultures of the children which they serve. This involves a long-term process in which an individual's own cultural assumptions are questioned in response to active explorations into other cultures through music literature research, art, visiting different cultural niches, and through the development of personal relationships. Lines of communication should be opened up so that schools can find out how they can best serve their consumers' needs and desires. Teachers can support these efforts by implementing parallel initiatives in the classroom the school, and in their own lives. Other members of society can also contribute to solutions by challenging hegemonic practices within themselves and their environments and by supporting politicians in favor of policies designed to improve the opportunities available to African Americans and other minorities Towards this end, the Committee on Policy for Racial Justice ( 1989:29) calls for: ... collective action to improve schooling for black children. Neither cynicism nor despair, nor undue optimism is appropriate; all of these are comfortable indulgences that militate against constructive educational change. We do not deny that schools embody the bad as well as the good of society. But we will no longer accept that appraisal as an excuse for failure. We must all search for the common ground on which to build an academic foundation for this generation of black youngsters. Chapter Summary This chapter describes various theories explaining the lower educational achievement of African American students and points to ways we can carry out solutions to this problem. The theme connecting these explanations was the impact that negative beliefs about African Americans had on processes in the home community and the school and between these locations. African Americans historical experience in this country has resulted in a lack of trusting relationships between the home and the school for many African America n s particularly those from lower income brackets African American educators such as
32 Hilliard (1988) and Hale-Benson (1982) point to the need for African Americans to come together as a community to overcome these barriers and take part in the making of decisions which affect the lives of their children. These issues will be returned to in Chapter 4 where I present an analysis of a community organization's efforts to bring about meaningful change in families, communities, schools and the provision of social services. In order to lay down a foundation for this discussion a description of the organization and events which occurred during my internship are presented in Chapter3.
CHAPTER 3. COMMUNITY EDUCATION: A CASE STUDY OF UNITED FOR KIDS 33 From January of 1991 through April of 1991 I conducted a full-time internship with United for Kids in order to satisfy the requirements for a Master's degree in Applied Anthropology from the University of South Aorida and to gain practical experience in my area of study. Subsequently, I was hired as a part-time employee by the organization through July of 1991 in order to continue the roles and responsibilities which I carried out during my internship. In this chapter, I provide a description of the development of the organization that I compiled as a result of my participation with the organization. Methodology My primary responsibilities as an intern with United for Kids included coordinating monthly community forums, producing a services guide for the community, and assisting in the daily operation of the organization. In addition to my role as an assistant to the director, I was encouraged to further my understanding as a student interested in the community education process. These roles allowed me to gather case study information by conducting participant-observation, formal and informal interviews, and a review of research literature collected during my participation with the organization. In addition. I conducted a follow-up period of data collection by reviewing documents recorded by the agency which funds United for Kids and by interviewing the program consultant from the funding agency and one of the original university consultants who was involved in the initial planning stages of the organization. This second period of data collection was
34 carried out in April of 1993 in order to validate the original data collected and to gather additional data necessary to fill in gaps and clarify ambiguities concerning events which occurred during my participation with the project. This second period of data collection extends my description of United for Kids to the time when the organization began in April of 1989. Therefore, the time period covered in this description extends from April of 1989 to July of 1991. Description of the Organization United for Kids began in April of 1989 when two women one a long-time resident and leader in the community, and the other, the manager of a low-income apartment complex in the area, became concerned about the growing number of children in the area who were not attending school. They spoke with a local judge about the problem and were referred to two members of the school system who could provide them with assistance towards a solution of this problem. One of these people was the supervisor of school social work services and the other was an area director of schools. These four people became the core leaders of United for Kids' Board of Trustees, which was later created in order to set policy for the organization. This core group was composed of two African American women (Mrs. Sheldon was an outreach worker and resident of the community Mrs Roberts an area director of schools) a Caucasian female (the manager of the subsidized apartment complex whom I shall refer to as Mrs. Shapiro) and a Caucasian male (Mr. Keyes, the supervisor of school social work services). This group began to meet monthly with professionals who provide services within the target community. Service providers l attending these meetings included school social I Throughout this paper, "serv ice provider s" includes educators except where otherwise noted
35 workers principals, and representatives from organizations dealing with the welfare of children such as the police department and the Parentsrfeachers Association (PTA). This group sponsored events intended to open up the communication process between the home and the school. Examples include a Back-to-School Fair where parents could meet teachers and register their children for school without leaving the community and activities designed to involve a greater number of parents in Parent-Teacher Conference Days. This group learned that funding for projects concerning "at-risk" children and families was available from the Children's Council, a county government agency which provides funding for projects offering services to children and their families within the county area. In order to obtain assistance in writing a grant proposal for funding from the Children's Council this group sought technical assistance from a university department which specializes in studies and projects intended to expand understanding of the educational and service needs of children and families The four founders of United for Kids met with a group from the university during several sessions spanning from November of 1989 to Spring of 1990 This group produced a plan for addressing their concerns about th e growing truancy problem in the Williams-Clark community. The details of this plan were included in a grant proposal submitted to the Children's Council. In this proposal the problem of truancy was viewed as a symptom of problems within the social service, educational, and home spheres. Therefore the three goals on wh i ch thi s group chose to focus included: 1) the prevention of school failure; 2) the enhancement of existing support services in the community; and 3 ) the strengthening of the qualit y o f parent-child relationships. To achieve these goals the innovation they chose involved the delivery of intensive case management services to meet the needs of 75 children and the ir families in the Williams-Clark community during the funding period. Since one of the barriers to successful service provision identified b y this group concerned the lack of effective communication between community residents and servi ce
36 providers, the plan involved hiring and training community residents to serve as case managers in order to lessen the social distance between the case managers and community residents. The characteristics and intentions of the people hired as case managers were considered to be of paramount importance. For example, essential characteristics of successful applicants as identified in the original grant proposal would include the humanistic commitment of case managers "to helping, the sensitivity to accept individuality in behavioral expression, and the perseverance to seek out and untangle the intricacies of bureaucratic service delivery." The characteristics of a successful director were also identified; these characteristics described a person who lived in the community had grassroots ideals, could work effectively with service providers and was an effective I eader in the community. In the original grant proposal detailed plans for carrying out research and training activities were described. These activities were to be carried out throughout the planning period by the university consultants in order to lay down a foundation for the successful delivery of case management services. Research and training activities included plans for training the case management team and carrying out evaluation activities. The results of this planning process however, were modified when the funding agency requested that the grant proposal be clarified and resubmitted. The Children's Council felt that a period of research and planning activities was needed in order to prepare for the delivery of case management services. During this time the responsibility for the revision of the grant shifted from the university consultants to the person who later was hired to become the director of the organization. This person was a charismatic African-American man who was working in the Williams-Clark community as the part-time director of a grant sponsored by the county school system to build a full-service school project in the community. This man whom I will call Mr. Hamilton, had begun attending the planning sessions in an observer role and was subsequently pictured by the members of the Board of
37 Trustees as the type of grassroots African-American leader they were seeking as director for their project. The group of university consultants did not view Mr. Hamilton as a grassroots leader who had the necessary skills to carry out community organization activities in this type of community, but Mrs. Sheldon, the most influential member of the Board was impressed with Mr. Hamilton and supported the decision to hire him as the director. After Mr. Hamilton was asked to assume responsibility for rewriting the grant the leadership for the planning process shifted away from a joint effort between the Board of Trustees and group of university consultants to a process where Mr. Hamilton worked on his own with the four Board of Trustees members During the revision of the grant by Mr. Hamilton the emphasis of activities to be carried out during the first year shifted away from the delivery of case management services to the development of a support network of service providers and community residents and to the delivery of programs for children and families. The organization still planned to provide intensive case management services to 75 families, but these activities would be provided during the second year of operation after the organization spent the first year laying down the organizational structure and carrying out activities to prepare for the provision of case management services The change in the plans resulted from combining the original pla n created with the university consultants with information concerning a successful project they heard about in another city in the state which used grassroots-type efforts to engage community residents and service providers in a collaboration to improve services available to youth and families. When the grant was resubmitted, United for Kids was awarded a $50 000 planning grant in July of 1990 in order to lay down over a fifteen-month period the framework needed to carry out the intended services successfully With this funding the Board of Trustees was able to hire Mr Hamilton as a part-time director and he in turn hir e d a secretary to assist in organizational activities. After he was hired by the Board of Trustees
38 Mr. Hamilton worked full-time on projects focused on the Williams-Clark community twenty hours a week for United for Kids and twenty hours a week coordinating the planning process for the full-service school grant. The full-service school grant was initiated by the county school system in order to plan for the delivery of a variety of economic social, health and educational services to be provided on the campus of Williams Junior High. The full-service school concept is based on an effort to provide a variety of services at one location within the community in order to facilitate the delivery of integrated services and to make services more physically accessible particularly for community residents for whom transportation is a problem. Due to the similar aims of these grants, Mr. Hamilton combined the goals and activities of both grants which resulted in plans to have a Family Resource Center ( which would be staffed by the director o f United for Kids and the three case managers) as the coordinating center of the full service school. Therefore the original plan to deliver intensive case management services b y trained community residents was incorporated into the goals of the full-service school. Although the grant proposal which was funded specifically denoted that a series of research and training activities would be provided by the university consultant group after Mr. Hamilton was hired the university group was no longer involved in the process due to the lack of effort on his part to continue this relationship. The resulting plan described in the revised grant proposal rested upon a philosoph y tha t in order to decrease the truancy in the area, it would be necessary to involve communit y residents, service providers and members of the school system in a collecti v e e f f o r t towards the formulation and implementation of solutions not only for truancy but for interrelated problems as well. This effort would work towards the realization of s ix go a ls: I ) the provision of a network of services to children and families within the community: 2) the reduction of truancy and the school dropout rate in the community ; 3) the prevention of school failure ; 4) improved communication between the home and school ; 5 ) increased
39 involvement of community residents in the making of decisions which affect their children and community; and 6) the development of a model which could be implemented in other communities. In order to carry out these goals, United for Kids envisioned the initiation of a community education process within the target community. According to Diane Briscoe ( 1990:80, 84), community education describes: ... a way of life that involves people working together in total partnership to identify an ideal and a means of realizing it. .. community education is seen as a concept that encourages lifelong learning through a process requiring maximum utilization of existing resources, participatory decision-making, and collaboration with agencies and individuals sharing similar goals. Ideally, it is a process whereby residents of the community acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for them to realize goals in their own lives while also participating in a meaningful way in determining the direction in which the community evolves. The process can be described as concerning itself with individual and community empowerment. It is intended to address the needs of the community as defined by community residents. United for Kids' strategy to carry out these goals consists primarily of three approaches: l) meeting the service needs of community residents by linking them with existing services and providing services to fill service gaps; 2) creating a partnership between community members and service providers in order to bridge understandings between these two groups and work together towards the solution of problems in the community and service system; and 3) empowering community residents to achieve both individual goals and their collective goals as a community. These approaches are carried out through United for Kids' development of its organizational structure, plans for a Family Resource Center. and programs and activities designed to meet community members' needs. Before describing these activities I will provide a brief description of United for Kids' target community.
40 The Target Community For operational purposes community is defined by United for Kids in geographic terms. This region contains approximately 2,400 housing units. According to 1990 county census tract data, the ethnic composition of this area is 82 percent Black, 7 percent Hispanic, 7 percent White, and 3 percent from other backgrounds. During 1989 the average household income was approximately $7 ,300 for one census tract and $21 ,000 for the other census tract which made up the area (the census tract with the lower average household income contains a public housing project). The housing in this area consists primarily of a public housing project which i s surrounded by single family homes and subsidized apartment complexes United for Kids' office is housed in Clark Elementary School which is located across the street from the public housing project. This area is often called the Williams-Clark community due to the presence of Clark Elementary School and its next-door neighbor Williams Junior High. The residents of this community experience many of the difficulties which have become commonly associated with inner-city areas such as high crime rates drug abu s e. poverty, lack of affordable medical care, high truancy and school dropout rates. unemployment lack of transportation and other hardships. The children in this relativel y small area most of whom are bussed to school attend fifteen different public schools This situation makes it difficult for parents, many of whom do not have transportation. to become involved with their children's schools. Many of the parents had similar educational experiences and did not attend schools where their parents were actively involved. One of the founders of United for Kids stated that when she was growing up in this neighborhood the situation was different. Although then schools were segregated. the schools served as a cohesive force in the community: most of the children went to school within the community and parents were actively involved in the school s and in their
41 children's education. Today, many forces contribute to the isolation of these parents from their children's schools and education. In addition to the above factors, the parents in these communities often do not have trusting relationships and effective communication patterns with school personnel (Beth Harry 1992). Although many parents have high aspirations for themselves and their children a variety of forces--discrimination and a lack of transportation, work clothes, childcare job skills, information about job opportunities, education and participation in networks connecting them to the larger society--can make it difficult for families in the Williams-Clark community to reach their goals of economic independence for themselves and educational success for their children. Although parents may encourage their children to do well in school, often they did not have positive educational experiences themselves and view the opportunities available to their children as being limited. The Organizational Structure United for Kids' organizational structure encourages community residents and service providers to become a part of a network which supports United for Kids' mission in the Williams-Clark community. This network evolves from the development of three groups--the Board of Trustees the Community Services Advisory Council and the Neighborhood Advisory Council. The formation and development of these groups is administered by the staff of United for Kids. The function of the Board of Trustees is to set policy and chart the overall course of United for Kids' development. The Board also has the responsibility of hiring and supervising the director of the organization. As discussed earlier the four people who initiated the creation of United for Kids became the original members of the Board of Trustees. This group invited selected community leaders and neighborhood residents to
42 JOin. The resulting, thirteen-member Board consists of community leaders, neighborhood residents, and professionals who work in the Williams-Clark community. The Community Services Advisory Council (CSAC) is a group of service professionals who advise United for Kids about the availability and delivery of services to the Williams-Clark community. The purpose of this group is to receive input from neighborhood residents to ensure that the delivery of services meets the needs of the families which are served. In addition to this group's involvement in efforts to improve the provision of services to the community the members of CSAC serve as a network of supporters which helps to carry out United for Kids' goals and activities. The Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC) is a group of community residents which was formed under the guidance of the United for Kids' director. The purpose of this group is to advise United for Kids about the needs and desires of community residents and to serve as a mechanism through which residents can become more involved in making decisions which affect their community. Members of this group are encouraged to attend meetings of the Community Services Advisory Council so that they will become familiar with the skills necessary to carry out meetings and communicate effectively with professionals who impact their community. Several members also serve on the Board of Trustees. The Family Resource Center Due to the joint position of Mr. Hamilton as the director of both the grant for United for Kids and the grant for the full-service school sponsored by the county school system. he incorporated the original plan of United for Kids to offer intensive case management services to community residents into the design of the full-service school. This resulted in
43 the plan to create a Family Resource Center which would be staffed by the case managers hired and trained by United for Kids to serve as the coordinating center for the delivery of services by the full-service school. It was planned that a variety of service s including job and vocational services, youth and family services, mental health counseling, economic services, health care, and educational services would be provided by city and county government agencies in the full-service school when it was built during the next several years on the Williams Junior High campus. Full-service schools encourage a collaborative relationship between schools and service agencies by providing a single place where a variety of educational and social support services can be offered thereby enhancing the potential for more effective communication. The reasoning underlying the full-service school concept is that school staff would have a n accessible place to refer "at-risk" students and families at an early stage thereby preventing the development of further problems and that communication between case managers and the providers of educational and social support services would be enhanced so that families could receive services that were more effectively integrated. By hiring and training community residents to serve as the case managers for the full-service school United for Kids hoped that the case management team could serve as advocates for community residents because of their experiences as members of the community and could serve as a bridge for enhancing effective communication between community residents and social service providers. United for Kids planned to provide the delivery of case management services during its second year of operation beginning in September of 1991 and would house the case management team as the coordinating center of the full-service school once it was built. The services which were to be provided in the full-service school were intended to not only meet the immediate needs of community residents but also to provide them with the information, social support, and training in skills necessary for them to achieve their ooals for themselves and their children. In addition to counseling and refe rral 0
44 services, it was planned that the Family Resource Center would also provide classes and educational materials designed to strengthen parents' skills in money management, parenting, home safety health maintenance and nutrition, and home-tutoring. Programs Sponsored by United for Kids United for Kids initiated or collaborated with a number of programs which are designed to meet the needs of families within the Williams-Clark community and to improve the educational experiences of children from this area. These programs include children's services, internship opportunities for college students monthly community forums, and activities designed to enhance the communication between the home and the school. United for Kids also assists projects which serve the Williams-Clark community by informing community residents about the availability of services. Children's services offered by United for Kids include a children's community choir and homework centers held at five locations within the community. One of these homework centers was focused on providing job shadowing opportunities and preparation for taking standardized tests such as the SAT which are needed to gain admission to colleges For a time this group was facilitated by an African-American professor from the local university which resulted in a series of rap group sessions concerning issues which impacted their lives. United for Kids also participated in the formation of an agreement with the YMCA to hold an affordable summer camp program in the community. Through its communication channels with community residents United for Kids let parents know about opportunities like the summer camp and other programs such as the after-school da y care program offered by the school system In addition, United for Kids created a comprehensive services guide for community residents which includes other services that may be of interest to parents and children.
45 The internship program sponsored by United for Kids provides students from a local university's Department of Special Education with the opportunity to work with at-risk students. Each of these students works with a teacher at each of the homework centers. They also help with children's activities at the community forums. Each month, United for Kids holds a community forum to let community residents know about United for Kids' activities and to involve them in the process. Community forums were envisioned as a place where community residents could discuss issues which were of concern to them and to provide feedback to United for Kids. They also were seen as a place where community residents could get to know each other and meet service providers. United for Kids also carries out activities which are designed to improve communication between the home and the school. For example the Community Services Ad v isor y Council sponsored a Back-to-School Fair where parents could meet teachers and principals and register their children for school without leaving the community. The Community Services Advisory Council also organized transportation for community residents to attend parent-teacher conference events at their children's schools. Through activation of its network of community residents and service providers, United for Kids is able to carry out other projects and services created to meet communit y residents' needs as they arise by coordinating efforts mobilizing resources, disseminating information, and eliciting the cooperation of community residents and service providers. ln the next section, these programs and activities will be discussed more fully in a description of events which occurred during my internship
46 The Internship My first experience with United for Kids and the Williams-Clark community occurred when I attended a community forum during November of 1990. The meeting had a large showing: about one hundred people--community residents, their children, service providers, and school principals and teachers--gathered in the Williams-Clark cafeteria. At the meeting, the director of United for Kids spoke to the group about United for Kids' concern for the welfare of children and families in the Williams-Clark area and invited everyone to participate in efforts to address solutions to problems within the community. This was the second of a series of monthly community forums which United for Kids would hold in order to get community residents involved in decisions concerning the Williams-Clark area The four original members of United for Kids' Board of Trustees met with the director in December of 1990 in order to discuss the progress of these meetings and to plan in m o r e detail the strategies which United for Kids would adopt in order to improve opportunities for children and families in the Williams-Clark area. By this time the initial collaborative agreement with the university consultant group was no longer being actualized and the revised grant proposal had received funding. As described earlier, this resulting plan was a combination of the original plan to offer intensive case management services and the plan to develop collaborative networks between community residents and service providers th a t would attempt to devise and carry out solutions to problems within the community and service system under the guidance of United for Kids leadership. This plan involved the formation of two groups--one representing service providers (the Community Services Advisory Council) and one representing community residents (the Neighborhood Advisory Council)--which would work together to plan and implement solutions to problems within the Williams-Clark community. The Community Services Advisory Council (CSAC)
47 would be formed from the group of service providers which had originall y gathered in order to address concerns about the Williams-Clark area whereas the director of United for Kids would be responsible for the formation and development of the Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC). During the Board training, it was decided that four types of meetings would be held each month. These would include meetings of each of the three groups making up United for Kids--the Board of Trustees the Community Services Advisory Council and the Neighborhood Advisory Council--and a monthly community forum which would bring together members of these three groups. Each group would plan its own meetings and agenda, while the Board of Trustees and United for Kids staff also would organize the monthly community forums. At the Board training each Board member was asked to serve as a chair of a committee in charge of carrying out aspects of the community forum s (e.g., publicity decorations program hospitality etc.) and I was to coordinate these efforts. Community forums were seen by Board members as having a number of functions They would serve as a place where community members could discuss their concern s a bout the community and organize efforts for change. They would be a place where United f or Kids could present information to community residents and receive feedback from th e community. Community forums would also serve as the primary means by which United for Kids would attract additional community members to participate in the org a nization' s development. Eventually Board members envisioned community residents taking over the responsibility of carrying out these meetings and making decision s concerning their purpose and agenda. Throughout the Board training Board members repeatedly emphasized the v a lues upon which United for Kids' formation would be laid: these included the need for c ommunit y residents to decide what direction the community should go in and the need for servic e
48 providers to get to know community residents and value their perspectives. One of the Board members' concerns was that a countless number of projects had been imposed on this community without ever asking for community members' input. She denounced this legacy of paternalism and supported efforts to involve community residents as active decision-makers and participants in the process of choosing and implementing solutions to problems in the community and service systems. This woman, Mrs. Sheldon an African American outreach worker and sole community resident on the Board at the time was the person who most influenced the direction that the organization took throughout its development and brought most of these grassroots ideals and values into the discussion. Under the guidance of a Board of Trustees made up of both Black and White professionals and community residents, it was hoped that these ordinarily segregated groups could get to know each other and develop a partnership for change. During the next several months, the members of United for Kids worked together to carry out the objectives laid out in this meeting and the planning grant. A solid network of service providers had already been formed and therefore efforts were primarily focused on getting more community residents involved in the organization. Since monthly community forums were the primary mechanism for involving additional community residents a significant amount of the organization's efforts were devoted to planning and carrying out these meetings. In addition to the agenda of the meeting refreshments children's activities, and entertainment by United for Kids' Children's Community Choir were provided in order to attract community residents to the meetings Publicity for these meetings included public service announcements in local newspapers and on radio stations and flyers sent horne with children through the schools. During the December community forum in 1990, community residents signed up to work on the committees formed at the Board training and were invited to take part in the formation of the Neighborhood Advisory Council. Community members attending this
49 meeting were also asked to participate in other United for Kids activities. For example United for Kids invited several community residents to attend a local conference on programs for children in order to get them involved in professional activities Community residents also were asked to participate in a series of focus groups which were held in order to plan the full-service school which would be built in the Williams-Clark area. Since the director of United for Kids was also directing the planning grant for the full-service school he was able to involve participants in both of the projects. In January of 1991, the Community Services Advisory Council (CSAC) began the process of adjusting to its new role within United for Kids. Previously this Council had been the primary group within the organization and due to the addition of the Board of Trustees and Neighborhood Advisory Council this group now had to reconsider its rol e within the organization. The members of the CSAC decided that its functions within the organization were to support United for Kids' efforts in the community and to improve service provision by examining service barriers and formulating solutions for change. At this time, CSAC meetings were attended primarily by principals and social workers from the county school system and representatives from the Community Action Agency the PTA, a low-income apartment complex in the area and an organization concerned with the needs of children labelled as being severely emotionally disturbed. This group decided to expand its membership and invited representatives from additional agencies who work with residents of the Williams-Clark community to join. Included among the agencies which became involved with United for Kids are the City Police Department, the County Department of Social Services Job Services the County Health Department the City Housing Authority the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services and the C it y Department of Recreation. Most of the Board of Trustees members also serve on the Community Services Advisory Council.
50 The Board of Trustees also expanded its membership and invited several community residents and community leaders to join. The director of United for Kids was working on a doctoral degree at a local university, and one of his professors had pointed out that no community residents were sitting on the Board of Trustees, the primary decision-making body for the organization. Mrs. Sheldon, although a long-time resident of the community was also a professional outreach worker which set her experience somewhat apart from the situation of community residents which the organization was created to address. During February, a nominating committee met in order to organize plans for the formation of the Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC). This committee was composed of both professionals and community residents. It was decided that an election would be held at the March community forum in order to determine the leadership of the NAC. However, the decisions made at this meeting were impacted little by the community residents in attendance who had little experience in these type of planning activities and therefore, the professionals present determined most of the plans for the formation of the group which was to represent community residents. Flyers containing information concerning the Neighborhood Advisory Council and the election process were distributed to community residents by mail and were sent home with children from school. At the United for Kids office, however we heard little response from community residents indicating interest in running for office. Although only a small number of community residents attended the March community forum, a panel of officers was elected by the close of the meeting. In April, the director of United for Kids began to work with this group in order to prepare them to carry out the Neighborhood Advisory Council's two primary functions with respect to their relation to United for Kids : 1) involving of additional community residents in United for Kids' efforts ; and 2) advising United for Kids about community residents' views and concerns. As this group developed members would also
51 plan initiatives in order to address problems which they saw as being a priority in the community. At about this time, an educational consultant who specializes in Afrocentric education was invited to guide the second Board of Trustees training. He discussed the process of successful organization efforts in communities such as United for Kids from a perspective which was new to many Board members. In projects such as United for Kids the consultant saw as essential to the process of the empowerment of African Americans the reconnection of African Americans' identification with their cultural roots in Africa. By engendering knowledge of and respect for the struggles and accomplishments of centuries of Black people and coming to identify with this legacy with pride the consultant suggested that African Americans can lift themselves up by drawing upon knowledge from their cultural tradition. He tied this discussion to interactional activities where Board members were asked to think about United for Kids' goals and strategies. Although he introduced Board members to a number of books they could read in order to learn more about the issues he raised during the training session, the discontinuities between the worldview he presented and that fostered in mainstream American culture are perhaps too great to be bridged in a three-hour training session, and consequently, this Board training had little impact on the organization's development. In April, the newly-formed Neighborhood Advisory Council began to be involved in planning and carrying out the monthly community forums. Rather than mailing flyers members of the NAC decided that they would hand deliver flyers advertising the community forums in order to become more visible to community residents. However attendance at community forums continued to be sporadic, having large groups at some meetings and few people at others. Meetings with the largest showings (e.g., an awards banquet for student achievement and a meeting celebrating Black History Month) seemed to be attended primarily by parents who were interested in seeing their children perform. If
52 the children's performances were held first many of the parents left immediately after the performances. The number of community residents showing interest in participating in the organization's activities appeared to decline over time at meetings. It is difficult to know exactly why this occurred without utilizing more effective means of communicating with community members than those that were in place, but United for Kids was having difficulty getting community residents who attended the meetings to get further involved in the organization's development. When new community residents did attend community forums often no one from the organization spoke with them. People tend to congregate with people they feel comfortable with, so professionals tended to associate with each other and often did not take the opportunity to make newcomers feel at home and connected with others. Because of these interaction patterns, opportunities to develop more effective communication between the organization and the community and between community residents and service providers were not taken advantage of. At this time there were about ten community residents who were participating with United for Kids on a regular basis Most of these community residents served on the Neighborhood Advisory Council, and several also served on the Board of Trustees and attended CSAC meetings. However, most of these residents rarely spoke or provided input at meetings. Speaking one-on-one with them I often found that they had valuable information and ideas to offer but when I asked why they didn't say anything. they communicated that they did not feel familiar enough with planning and organizational activities to speak very much at meetings in regard to making decisions about the organization's goals and strategies. When they did offer suggestions their contributions often did not impact the outcome of the discussion Both the Board of Trustees and Community Services Advisory Council had been meeting monthly throughout this time. During these meetings, members were fiiled in on events that were relevant to United for Kids (e.g., the formation of the Neighborhood
53 Advisory Council and the planning of the full-service school) and were also involved in the planning of the monthly community forums and other United for Kids events. These meetings served also as a place to discuss issues which concerned the Williams-Clark community. For example, CSAC members discussed barriers to the effective provision of services to the Williams-Clark community and discussed ways to ameliorate these problems. Barriers discussed included: lack of transportation; lack of communication and coordination among various agencies; extensive prerequisites for eligibility; insufficient staff resources; limited hours of availability; lack of funding; lack of consumer awareness of services; prohibitive distances from the neighborhood ; lack of insurance; and lack of staff continuity. United for Kids planned to address solutions to overcome these barriers through their collaboration with efforts to create the full-service school and also through methods which the CSAC would plan and carry out. In May, United for Kids applied for a services grant from the Children's Council in order to obtain funding for the present United for Kids staff (part-time director and secretary) and additional funding for the three case managers who would staff the Famil y Resource Center in the full-service school project. The Children's Council, however did not see what United for Kids had accomplished and saw it as being the responsibility of the full-service school to fund its case managers. Members of United for Kids were very surprised when they learned that the Children's Council had decided not to fund the grant. In response to this, the director of United for Kids organized efforts to appeal this decision. In addition to obtaining letters of support from influential people within the larger community, United for Kids organized transportation so that community residents and their children could attend meetings of the Children's Council's Board of Directors along with United for Kids' Board of Trustees. Due to an emotional appeal to an influential African American woman on the Board of Directors for the Children s Council, the original decision of the Children's Council was overturned and United for Kids was given more
54 money than originally was asked for in the initial proposal in order to pay for a full-time director. This was an exciting period for United for Kids members; landing this victory revitalized the belief of members that, by coming together and forging a commitment to change over the long run, community residents and service providers could make a real difference in the Williams-Clark community. However, the valuable information that the funding agency's program consultant pointed out--that the organization had not been successful in efforts to offer meaningful services which impacted the community and had not carried out the activities outlined in the planning grant to prepare for the delivery of services during the second year of operation--was not given the full weight of consideration which it deserved by United for Kids leadership. Part of the cause of this situation was the failure of the director to develop a productive working relationship with the consultant from the funding agency. Therefore, throughout United for Kids' first year of operation the organization did not benefit from the technical assistance and support that the funding agency could provide. This was one of many relationships between the director and various community residents service providers, and funding agency staff which resulted in estranged relations. For example, several community residents and service providers told me that their feelings had been hurt; that they did not feel valued by the organization and in fact felt attacked during the process. Many of these events were the result of interactions with the director but several other occurrences happened as the result of community residents interactions with each other and particular Board members. Because of an absence of mechanisms to resolve such types of issues, the number of both professionals and community residents who participated with the organization declined over time. This failure to develop an effective working relationship with the funding agency also occurred in United for Kids' relationship with the university consultant group which according to the funded grant proposal was to be contracted to carry out research and
55 training services for the organization. This consultant group offered technical assistance which could have resulted in a more productive organizational process if it had been utilized. For example, one way this group could have contributed was through monitoring and evaluation activities. Little attention was focused on evaluating the success of programs offered and critically evaluating the strategies and process of the organization in order to identify and resolve problems and enhance successful efforts. For instance one of the goals of the internship program with education students from the university was to prepare the university students to work effectively with at-risk" children and their families. However no guidance was provided by the organization to help these students interact successfully in an unfamiliar cultural environment. In July, the case manager positions were advertised on flyers announcing the monthl y community forum. Although other community forums had attracted large numbers of children and adults, this was the first meeting where a number of men and women in their late teens and early twenties attended. In addition to describing the case manager positions information concerning job assistance programs and strategies to obtain employment were provided by representatives from government employment agencies. The August community forum also had a large showing. This meeting was the second Back-to-School Fair organized by United for Kids where parents could meet teachers and principals and register their children for school without leaving the community Copies of the Community Services Guide which United for Kids had put together for residents of the Williams-Clark community were handed out at this fair. This guide was created in order to inform residents about available services during the time before case management services were offered and until the full-service school was built. This was the last event during my participation with United for Kids In the following chapter I explore an understanding of events which occurred during this process in order to understand why the organization
56 appeared to have little success in realizing its goals of creating a change effort which would actively involve community residents and bring about meaningful changes in their lives and that of their children 's.
CHAPTER 4. ANALYSIS OF EVENTS DURING UNITED FOR KIDS' FIRST YEAR OF OPERATION 57 In this chapter, I explore reasons why United for Kids efforts resulted in limited success in achieving its goals of bringing about meaningful change in the community and service system. In order to do so I reviewed findings from the literature on planned change which attempts to provide an understanding of why so few change efforts have made significant progress toward improving societal and educational processes despite the number of projects attempted and large amount of money which have been invested toward bringing improvements about (Group on School Capacity for Problem Solving 1975). This body of literature examines the process of change and identifies factors which may impede or facilitate successful change efforts. One model of planned change, developed by Robert Herriott and Neil Gross ( 1979) is called the Expanded Leadership Obstacle Course Model. In this chapter, I will use this model to facilitate an understanding of the change process as it was carried out by United for Kids. The Expanded Leadership Obstacle Course Model In The Planned Edu ca tional Change Herriott and Gross ( 1979) present five case studies describing the results of educational change efforts in five school districts which were provided with substantial funding from the National Institute of Education. These projects were part of the Experimental Schools Program which "was to represent a new approach for federal change efforts involving local school dis tri c ts and the federal government as 'partners in a cooperative effort of field experiments in comprehensive
58 educational change" (Herriott and Gross 1979:51). From an analysis of these change efforts, Herriott and Gross developed the Expanded Leadership Obstacle Course Model which "provides a roadmap of the educational change process and facilitates the identification of the types of obstacles that may be encountered in each of its stages and the essential leadership tasks required to overcome them" (Herriott and Gross 1979:362 ) The five stages described in the ELOC model include: exploration, strategic planning, initiation, attempted implementation and incorporation/rejection. This model with minor revisions is depicted in Table 1 (p. 59). The ELOC model does not provide specific guidelines that should be followed during the change process. Rather it provides a broad description of the types of activities which should be carried out and potential types of impediments that may arise during each of the stages in the change process. Potential impediments to successful change efforts may include (Evans 1992): I) a failure to accurately diagnose the problem(s) that is the focus of the change effort ; 2) a failure to anticipate or resolve implementation problems ; 3) carrying out ad hoc (i. e disjointed or ill-fitting) approaches to effect change: 4) the failure to collect adequate information about the innovation to be implemented : 5) an absence of monitoring or feedback mechanisms: 6) a failure to involve all stakeholders; 7) the absence of operationally defined goals and short intermediate and long-range targets for the change effort ; and 8) the absence of adequately-skilled leadership. In order to implement successful change efforts measures should be taken to a void the occurrence of these and other barriers. The model provides guidelines for activities that should be carried out in order to create conditions that will incre a se the potential that the
59 Table 1. Leadership Tasks Designated by the Expanded Leadership Obstacle Course (ELOC) ModeLl Exploration Provide leadership in identifying : l The major current problem of the system 2. The priority in which these problems need to be addressed 3. The range of possible solutions to priority problems in view of the .. political .. situation -1-. The obstacles within the system that can block particular solutions to priority problems 5. The strengths within the system that may facilitate particular solutions to priority problems 6. The resources from beyond the system that may be available to implement particular solutions to priority problems 7 The most promising solution. i e the innovation to be implemented STAGE IN PROCESS Strategic Planning Provide leadership in: I. Identifying potential obstacles to the implementation of the innovation 2 Identifying potential facilitators to the implementation of this innovation in the system 3. Developing a realistic strategy for minimizing each obstacle and maximizing each facilitator of this innovation in the system 4 Obtaining the financial resources necessary to implement this innovation in this system 5. Specifying internal and external political considerations that can have a major bearing on the innovation and developing strategies to cope with them Initiation Provide leadership in overcoming obstacles identified during the strategic planning stage are : I. Staff lacks the necessary motivation 2. Staff lacks the necessary technical knowledge 3. Staff lacks the necessary interpersonal skills -1-. Staff lacks the necessary instructional resources 5 Dysfunctional organizational arrangements within the system 6 Conllicts between differing groups within the system 7. Conl1icts between the system and its community 8 Contlicts between the system and iL'i external funding agency 9 Cultural va lues within the community in con11ict with the idea of change 10. Lack of consensus about or support for the change effort Attempted Implementation Provide leadership in overcoming previousl y identified obstacles and emergent obstacles such as: I. Misunderstandings about the objectives of the innovation 2 Misunderstandings about the procedures of the innovation 3. Resignation of key system personnel -1-. Turnover in the staff of the external funding agency 5. Role overload o n the part of participants or administrators 6. Delays in receipt of necessary materials 7. Serious political problems confronting the change effort Incorporation/ Rejection Provide leadership in ensuring that the innovation remains a viable part of the ongoing ac tivit y of the system by: I. Obtaining views about the innovation from participants 2 Obtaining views about the innovation from consumers : and youth 3. Obtaining objective evidence on the degree to which the innovation is achieving its intended objectives -1-. Obtaining objective evidence on the financial costs of continuing the innovation 5 .-\ ssess ing the benefits of the innovation in the light of its costs 6 Considering the desirabilit y of continuing the innovation without modification 7. Considering the desirability of continuing the innovation with modification or abandoning the innovation altogether I From The Dvnamics of Planned &lucational Change (p 361) by R Herriot ami N Gross ll)7l), Berkeley. CA : McCutchan Publishing Company. Reprinted by permission
60 change effort will be successful. For example, the types of activities which an organization such as United for Kids would conduct during the exploration stage include (Evans 1992): 1) selecting membership for a planning committee which is representative of all stakeholders (i.e., parents, students, school personnel, community institutions, businesses, service providers, and university consultants); 2) establishing mechanisms for effectively communicating with all stakeholders; 3) planning and implementing a process to get stakeholders' input concerning the identification of problems in the community and the priority in which they should be addressed; 4) clearly defining the problem to be addressed; 5) adequately researching causes of the problem; 6) exploring alternative solutions to the problem; 7) examining potential barriers and strengths with respect to each of the alternative solutions or innovations; 8) getting feedback and support from stakeholders concerning the selection of the innovation to be implemented; and 9) implementing systematic problem-solving mechanisms. United for Kids failed to carry out many of these activities and did not take precautions to overcome many of the predictable obstacles which occurred during the change process. For example, events which served as barriers to achieving organizational goals included: 1) a failure to take into consideration problems created as the result of changes in leadership; 2) a lack of understanding of what the innovation was and the problems it was intended to solve; and 3) a failure to involve community residents actively in the planning and implementation process. In the following sections, I will discuss the impact of these barriers and attempt to explain why they occurred. At the end of this chapter. I will briefly cover several stratecries that can be used to overcome these barriers. 0
61 Effects of Changes in Leadership Several of the problems which occurred during United for Kids' first year of operation resulted from the change in leadership that occurred when Mr. Hamilton took over the responsibility for the revision of the grant proposal and the university consultant group was no longer involved in the organization's development. The innovation which was contained in the original grant proposal--the delivery of intensive case management services--was created through a cooperative effort between the four founding members of the Board of Trustees and the university consultant group. However, when Mr. Hamilton took over the revision of the grant, the original plan to offer case management se rvice s was expanded to include the delivery of services and the creation of an active network of service providers and residents. Two problems arose as the result of the change in leadership One problem occurred as the result of the director s failure to maintain a working relationship with the university consultant group which according to the funded grant proposal, would be hired to provide research and development services for United for Kids The choice of the original pla n to provide intensive case management services was based on the skills and knowledge which the university group had regarding planning and implementation activities needed to bring about the delivery of successful case management services. However, the availability of their services was not taken advantage of, resulting in a situation where neces sary activ iti es were carried out in a superficial way if carried out at all. For example. activities that should have been carried out during United for Kids' first year of operation in order to prepare for the delivery of case management services during the second year included: I) identification of the 75 families that would receive intensive case management services: 2) the creation of an evaluation protocol: 3) the collection of baseline data for evaluating the outcomes of the innovation ; 4) identification of potential candidates possessing the characteristics ne cessa r y
62 to carry out the activities of the case management positions successfully; 5) the design of a training program for case managers ; and 6) the development of procedures that would be needed for the delivery of case management services (e.g., interview protocols for the intake process with community residents). However due in part to the absence of the university group s involvement these activities were not carried out during United for Kids' first year of operation. The change of leadership also had another negative impact on the organization. Since Mr. Hamilton was also the part-time director for the full-service school grant, he combined the efforts of both projects, resulting in the plan to have United for Kids case management services to be housed in the full-service school. Case managers would staff the Family Resource Center which would be the coordinating center for the services offered in the full service school. In some ways, this joining of efforts provided advantages for both the full service school and United for Kids. One advantage was that Mr. Hamilton s involvement with United for Kids helped to involve more community residents in the planning of the full-service school. However, the funding agency viewed the funding of case managers to be the responsibility of the full-service school. This largely impacted their decision to tum down United for Kids' application to receive additional funding after the first year of funding ended. If the director of United for Kids had maintained effective communication with the funding agency s project consultant this dilemma could have been worked out. There ma y have been some advantage for United for Kids to provide the funding for the full-service schools case managers in order to have more influence over the way the s e roles were carried out. But a lack of communication resulted in a lack of agreement on this issue. As described earlier the organization did eventually receive funding due to its appeal but this occurred as the result of politics rather than on the basis of the organization s merits. Furthermore, the lack of an effective working relationship with the funding ag e ncy
63 deprived the organization of valuable technical assistance. For example, the funding agency's consultant observed that the organization could overcome its difficulties in actively involving community members in organizational activities by focusing efforts on identifying and involving the 75 families who would receive services and centering community organization activities around this group. But these and other valuable ideas concerning strategies for achieving organizational goals were not considered by the leadership of United for Kids due to the lack of effective communication with the funding agency's consultant. Limitations of a Services-Oriented Approach The original idea to focus intervention on the delivery of case management services was chosen to overcome some of the problems with the existing service delivery system described earlier such as a lack of integrated services and cultural barriers between service providers and service consumers. Rothman and English refer to this problem in their description of Black social workers opinion of existing services as being "demeaning and degrading without an understanding of the peculiar problems and social dynamics of the black community" ( 1974 p. 190) The delivery of case management services by trained community residents was chosen to overcome some of these barriers. The focus on case management services was also based on the belief that services could help families to become self sufficient. Diana Slaughter ( 1988:463) describes the difficulties inherent in this process: The challenge to service-oriented programs for this racial minority group I i.e .. African Americans! is to enable their families to become truly economically and socially sufficient within American society, while simultaneously acknowledging not only that black families collectively have sociocultural integrity but also that many individual members of these families have considerable strengths and adaptive coping skills. This is an extremely difficult position for any public or private benefactor to assume, since it involves providing and monitoring material resources while accepting the
64 premise that the person s poverty is not entirely his/her fault. The American creed us to believe that slothful work habits lack of commitment to the job, and mfenor talents and abilities are causes, rather than consequences, of individual poverty. As a young nation, we do not accept the proposition that racial and ethnic groups have unequal chances for economic advancement because it undermines one of our most fundamental premises: Regardless of racial, religious or social background every individual has equal opportunity for "life liberty and the pursuit of happine ss," a phrase that in our materialistic society has all too often been identified as synonymous with economic and social advantage. John Musick and Nancy Hooyman (1976) describe other dilemmas which result from focusing solely on a services approach. The first problem is that "reliance on professionally-provided services to deal with a community s problems overlooks the fact that people derive pride and self-respect from dealing actively with their own problem s. This process is perhaps most essential for low-income citizens who have often been made to feel that they must rely on professionals to make decisions for them. The profession a l client relationship has often made such persons feel like 'objects' in any attacks on social problems rather than as effective subjects"' (Musick and Hooyman 1976: 14). Accordin g to Musick and Hooyman (1976: 15) a second difficulty with a service-oriented approach arises from the scarcity of institutionalized social services ... formalized social servi c e s will never be fully adequate to meet all the needs of people. In addition formalized services are often not demanded especially among citizens who tend to be self-reliant. The strategical question is whether to attempt to sell social services in areas where they do not exist and are not demanded or whether to organize citizens to use effectively inform a l noninstitutionalized mechanisms to meet their needs' ( Musick and Hooyman 1976 : 15) A third problem with an exclusive emphasis on a services approach is that only a problem s symptoms may be treated rather than its source. Services are provided to meet a particular 'felt need. Yet it is necessary to attack the underlying conditions which c a u s e the 'hurt'" (Musick and Hooyman 1976: 14). Iris Young ( 1990) provides more understanding towards thi s last issue by describing the problem as lying in the conception of a distributive theory of jus tice which v ie w s the
65 sole source of inequality as resulting from an unequal access to material and nonmaterial resources such as wealth, jobs, and equal rights. However, according to Young, sole focus on this level of explanation "tends to obscure the institutional context within which those distributions take place, and which is often at least partly the cause of patterns of distribution of jobs or wealth. Institutional context. .. includes any structures or practices the rules and norms that guide them, and the language and symbols that mediate social interactions within them" (Young 1990:22). Therefore justice is brought about not only by providing equal distribution to material and nonmaterial resources, it is brought about also through overcoming what Young refers to as cultural imperialism. According to Young, to "experience cultural imperialism means to experience how the dominant meanings of a society render the particular perspectives of one s own group invisible at the same time as they stereotype one s group and mark it out as the Other" (Young 1990:58-59). The issue of cultural imperialism or cultural hegemony as others (Weis & Fine 1993) refer to the same concept, was the underlying theme connecting the explanations for the lower educational achievement of African American students presented in Chapter 2. Roykin describes the perspective necessary to overcome cultural imperialism and create what he calls cultural democracy ( 1986:87-88): American society is complex and culturally pluralistic. To treat heterogeneity as if it simply reflected different degrees of compliance with one cultural standard is to misunderstand its true nature. We must begin by acknowledging the integrity of the diverse social-cultural frames of reference and understanding them on their own terms. Furthermore, we must find ways to incorporate that very diversity into the various social attainment processes .... To the extent that this can be done America will avoid the waste of human potential that we are witnessing today and society as a whole will thrive. None of this can be accomplished without American society moving toward what has been called cultural democracy .... Only by altering institutions and values to make them consistent with cultural democratic principles can we make such choices realistically possible. Eventually, we may be able to create a social order that truly maximizes economic social and educational equality.
66 Foster (1986: 167) addresses this issue in regard to educational change: eff?rt for change can be aimed at developing truly representative systems of participatiOn m the school and democratic ways of realizino oroanization Chanoe in h 0 0 0 t e ratiOnal model is oriented toward new product and ways of organizing reality through such as Headstart and developing effective schools. Such endeavors fail to get at the basic rationale of chanoe efforts: to develop a process wherein individuals can rationally attempt to wants and needs without distortion and be instrumental in the participatory development of an educational institution. In one respect, then change involves a raising of consciousness about possibilities by penetrating the dominating ideas or total ideologies and analyzing the possible forms of life. This orientation, while political and cultural, is also critical, because it suggests that we attempt to cut through the "natural," taken-for-granted status quo to explore new arrangements. This particularly challenging task asks us to question the given structures and divisions: those between teachers and administrators and students for example. African American leaders of United for Kids from their own life experiences, understood that the real problem was a result of cultural hegemony and the challenge was to create a situation where community residents would participate meaningfully as equals in the creation of a shared culture which provided equal opportunities and access to resources for all. The decision to add other elements to the original plan such as the creation of a Neighborhood Advisory Council and the Community Services Advisory Council were based on this understanding The resulting plan focused intervention efforts on changes at the microlevel (changes in families, schools, and services), the mesolevel (relationships between community residents and service providers), and the macrolevel (negative stereotypical beliefs about community residents). Rothman and English provide a n overview of types of strategies used to deal with the problems of group inequit y a nd injustice. They include (Rothman and English 1974:191 ) : 1) Group rights to rectify unfair laws and practices within the legal and soc i a l framework of the existing community system; 2) Group solidarity and power to strengthen the organizationaL politic a l fabric of racial and ethnic groups so as to enhance mtemal strength and d1gmty at the same time chanoe status and power rel at ionships among groups. These s h1ftmg relationships imply c0hanges in the social order and the modification o.r of institutional forms or practices which foster rac1sm and other mode s of InJUStice
67 3) and relationship s to change detrimental attitudes, foster favorable associations, and mitigate tensions or disruptions that may be intrinsically harmful to all on either a short-term or loncr-term basis and 0 4) Group welfare to provide support and guidance to individuals who are suffering from the effects of the system, while broader and more long-range and mstJtut10nal changes are being acted upon. According to this framework, the focus on improving the provision of services was a group welfare approach, whereas part of the purpose of the Community Services Advisory Council and its activities was to improve intergroup attitudes and relationships. United for Kids was also interested in creating group solidarity and power through the creation of the Neighborhood Advisory Council and holding community forums. However, in sp ite of this holistic approach, United for Kids' leadership failed to anticipate predictable barriers to change such as the difficulty of gaining the active participation of community residents. This topic is discussed in the following section. Obstacles to Obtaining Active Citizen Participation In a review of efforts to gain active citizen participation, Benz ( 1975) found that the typical outcome of citizen participation programs i s a dilution of citizens' power. For example, she describes citizen participation in the Model Cities and Communit y Development Programs ( 1975:1 I 8): "Community neighborhood leaders were absorbed into the network of representative boards, which were more procedural than participatory in nature. The community, in turn, was left with a le ade rship vacuum" (Benz 1975:11 8). The manifestation of top-down perspectives in carrying out citizen participation efforts results in "a standard institutional framework leaving poor citizens to question what is really new or different about it" (Benz 1975: 117). She suggests that in order 'to achieve active, creative p a rticipation which a llow s initiative a nd decision-making to be equally shared among community members the organizer must work cooperatively with members
68 of the community to redistribute power and restructure the processes for social choice" (Benz 1975: 118). Sarri and Sarri ( 1992) in a review of research regarding barriers to the cooperation of target populations found the followino factors to be obstacles to social chanoe (Sarri and b b Sarri 1992: 101 ): l. Lack of active, ongoing involvement of target population in innovation and change efforts; 2. Powerlessness, actual and perceived; 3. Lack of information or knowledge; 4. Processes of change that do not include active participation and empowerment of the target populations. The difficulty involving community residents actively in the organization's efforts was a barrier which United for Kids did not anticipate or plan for despite available information regarding its predictability. This occurred in spite of organizational leaders' firsthand understanding about the importance of community residents' participation in efforts to overcome interaction patterns that perpetuate relationships of inequality. In fact United for Kids was carrying out practices which were in contrast to a belief in the value of the active participation of community residents. For example, community residents were not involved in the original planning process and were not represented on the Board of Trustees until a university professor pointed out this contradiction. Mrs. Sheldon did live in the community, but as stated earlier, she was a professional outreach worker which se t her situation apart from other community residents. The organization considered itself to be grassroots, yet used formal communication mechanisms such as flyers and radio broadcasts instead of personal communication modes. These procedures were not attracting the involvement of additional community residents, but were carried on nonetheless. Also, community residents rarely spoke at meetings and didn't really contribute to meetings' outcomes. Perhaps most importantly community resident s, a t
69 times, were not made to feel valued during vanous interactions with particular organizational leaders and subsequently, feelings were hurt and participation declined. Therefore, there was a disparity between rhetoric and reality which was unexpected particularly when considering that several of the organization s leaders had grown up as members of inner city, Black communities themselves. Sarri and Sarri ( 1992:10 l ) point out that "leadership is a critical factor in effecting successful innovation, both with respect to the process and the outcomes. Leaders may advocate and initiate change or they may oppose it for a variety of reasons: disruption, cost, difficulty, preference for the status quo, personal interests, unpredictability of the outcome and so forth ... unless the organizational leadership actively supports change the probability of successful innovation declines significantly." One of the organizational leaders' favorite expressions was "no more business as usual ," yet this essentially describes what occurred. In the next section, I will explore an understanding of these contradictions. Understanding Contradictions between Rhetoric and Reality In order to understand why organizational leaders failed to support a process which was not "business as usual,'' we must turn to an examination of an area which this thesis returns to again and again and that is a look at culture. Culture influences the way we view the world and the ways that we go about life. In recent years, there has been increasing interest among scholars regarding the paradigms through which we understand the world. Guba ( 1990: 17) defines a paradigm as "a basic set of beliefs that guides action: In a book entitled The Paradigm Dialog ( !990) in which several different ways of discove ring truths ' about reality are discussed, Guba describes one paradigm which guides ''knowing .. called constructivism: "Constructivism intends neither to predict and control the real' world nor to transform it but to re co nstru c t the 'world' at the only point at which it exists:
70 in the mind of constructors. It is the mind that is to be transformed not the real world" (1990:27 italics in original). In a book on Mastering School Reform, Goens and Clover (1991:9, 25) lend support to this belief: ... transformation of organizations requires a paradigm shift-a shift in the perceptwn of reality and how one thinks about it. .. Perception affects our disposition toward change and the status quo. In order for transformation to take place we need to establish perceptual frameworks and mindscapes that are open to new inform a tion and conditions. It is also necessary to guard against the barriers to change erected by stereotypes, halo effects and other distortions. Therefore, an understanding of contradictions between leaders' stated ideals and their actions can be found by looking at the level of beliefs. One way to do this is by examining the worldview which is fostered in this country and its effects on people's actions. The information presented in Chapter 2 provides an illustration of the effect of beliefs and structural conditions such as the availability of job opportunities (the macrosystem ) on all other parts of social systems including microsystems such as the home or school and the interactions between them (the mesosystem) in respect to their consequences on th e educational achievement of African American students. This account portrayed beliefs and struct ural forces which have limited the achievement of African Americans not only in schools, but in all other areas of life Negative beliefs in the macrosystern can have an adverse impact on belief systems in the home and community such as feelings of inferiorit y and a sense of hopelessness. But as Clark's research on families points out, families can overcome the effect of these beliefs and be successful in their lives. In addition, peopl e can change beliefs which are part of the macrosystem This is in essence, the thrust of s uch slogans such as "Black is beautiful," which became popular in the 1960's. The macrosystem is not some unchanging entity. It changes throughout time as an examination of history shows. But in many ways, elements of the macrosystem are very durable over time. As we become more aware of these issues, hopefully we can become better at
71 creating meaningful changes in the macrosystem. One way of doing this is by focusing change on other levels of the system such as changing beliefs in the home and the school. The information presented in Chapter 2 revealed many of the assumptions that are part of America's world view. There are many contradictions between stated ideals within the macroculture and their translation into actual reality. One example is the ideal of democracy versus the actual process that this takes in reality. The following describes overarching beliefs within United States worldview which contribute to the perpetuation of inequality. In the United States, a competitive worldview which encourages competition for a limited amount of good has been fostered. Beare ( 1989:32) describes the American approach as "the cowboy mentality; it represents each of us as a lone fighter competing against a hostile world, and it engenders an individualism which is antagonistic to the collective unity of the cosmos." Part of this worldview is a belief system where some attributes and talents are considered more valuable than others. Attributes and talents that typically have been valued have been those that are associated with the majority culture such as lighter skin color and an emphasis on knowing through logic in contrast to other ways of knowing such as through intuition (Beare 1989). Value is placed on creating a "melting pot" for diversity, rather than on creating a "salad bowl" where there is respect for the integrity of diverse cultures and different types of people. This emphasis on the melting pot encourages people from backgrounds different from the majority culture to adopt the macroculture's beliefs and practices. However there are limits to how well some groups and individuals can blend into the melting pot as compared to others. For example, visible differences such as skin color and language differences which are learned by being members of particular groups can limit a person's ability to '' melt'" into the larger culture not to mention the devaluation which is made concerning cultural backgrounds of people which are different from the "norm.'" The belief that some people are subsequent l y more valuable than others results in a hierarchical system which reinforces a competitive
72 world view. This creates a situation where people "at the bottom" of the hierarchy can be exploited to do the dirty work (Young 1990). This system of beliefs in team with a capitalist economy has obvious advantacres for maintainincr the differential distribution of b b resources which exists in the United States. As a constructionist view points out these beliefs are not "truths" about reality. But when believed, they do become truths" about reality. These beliefs, in fact, are limiting beliefs about reality. They create a system in which the few benefit to the detriment of many. Eubanks and Parish (1992: 13) describe the importance of considering the level of beliefs in reform efforts: Unless reforms question basic cultural beliefs that maintain America's existing social order, then regardless of the quality of a reform or innovation, only tinkering will occur. . Unless we are able to discuss and challenge the cultural undiscussables, substantive reform is unlikely to emerge ... As long as it is incumbent to believe that in order to develop persons of wealth and power to advance the culture, many-many others must be poor then a primary block to reform remains in place ... The question we must decide as a society is whether we are willing to endure the pain and ambiguity of reform ... Since we have the power to create our realities, it is possible for us to create contexts which are based on cooperation rather than competition. This can be envisioned as creating WinWin situations in contrast to Win-Lose or Lose-Lose outcomes (Gordon 1977) In fact the Prisoner's Dilemma, a paradigmatic game used by the U.S. Defense Department to mak e decisions in regard to international matters results in a situation where cooperation benefits both sides more than defection (hurting the other side) helps either side (Sagan 1993). It i s based on the use of the Tit-for-Tat strategy in which a player'' starts out always making an altruistic move and then, on the next tum, gives back whatever type of move the other side has made (Sagan 1993). For example if a gang shoots down a member of another gang. then the second gang will kill someone in the gang who made the first shot. But as e v ent s with Los Ancreles oanos have shown, if both sides chan2:e the rules of the game by 0 0 0 '-' agreeing on peace then both groups will benefit a lot more than either side will from a
73 series of vengeful attacks and counterattacks We are reaching a point where our collective consciousness has increased to a level where the mass of people are not ooino to be willino 0 0 0 to support the "paradigmatic game" which this country's worldview has encouraged. Another element to consider is the use of power. One way to view power is that it is the power to define reality (Miller, 1994) Viewing power in this way helps to shed light on an understanding of inequality between people. This relates back to the concept of cultural hegemony or cultural imperialism described earlier. What the basic problem comes down to, then, is that some groups have had more power in defining what reality is than have other groups. To share power is to share in the process of defining reality. The challenge is to create environments which encourage all participants to contribute to a shared vision of reality. Part of this process will require that some of the limiting beliefs in our national worldview be revised in order to create contexts where all can be valued and benefit. [For additional information on becoming aware of and overcoming limiting beliefs both as individuals and collectively, please refer to Roberts (1981;1994), Powers and Griffith ( 1987), and Friedman ( 1994) 1 Sharing power is not easy. Part of the reason many cultural beliefs are "undiscussables" is that people define reality through their beliefs. Therefore, it can be very threatening and painful to consider that many assumptions about reality are exactly that--assumptions-and do not refer to an absolute reality that exists somewhere outside of themselves. People's reluctance to share power (in addition to the advantages that power may confer) may be due to their lack of awareness concerning the existence of multiple realities that alternative belief systems create and an unwillingness to go through the painful process of revising their worldviews by considering the validity of other ways of defining reality. A belief that sharing power entails losing something can be a limiting belief. when an alternative view can focus instead on the benefits that can be realized through utilizing the creative power of our individual and collective beliefs. Truly valuing other voices by
74 including them in the process of defining reality not only is necessary for living up to our country's stated democratic ideal, but also is needed to provide the variety of alternate ways of doing things which will be needed for us to solve the complex problems we have in this country. As one of the principles of Adlerian counseling theory goes "It is necessary for us to learn how to participate in the give and take of life" (Evans 1994). A second reason that sharing power is not easy is that people just don t know how. The above discussion reveals some of why this is. For the most part people are not aware of the relativity of "reality" and are not aware of the power inherent in the ability to define what reality is. A second reason is that most people have not participated in experiences where power was actually shared and therefore, the assumed way of doing things does not result in processes which produce an actual sharing of power. Eubanks and Pari s h describe this occurrence in school reform efforts ( 1992:8, 14): Any serious effort to discuss reforming or restructuring an organization (substantive change) is a discussion about culture and cultural change: a discussion about the way things are done' and how that is what must change. About how things are done ... in relation to ... what is assumed and believed to be true and to be the work of the school in terms of a different vision of the purpose of the place ... We may have forgotten that in fact a process (the way we do things and the cultura l ways that accompany and are part of them) are the essential product and content of schooling. According to Lord & Kennedy ( 1992:261 ): Gal per ( 1975:200) argues that the process of introducing progressive change can be as important as the eventual outcomes: 'If the struggle builds collectively and educates politically it has already met one important objective of radical work., .. This may best be summed in a quote by Marshall McLuhan which states that 'the medium is the message" (cited in Raebeck 1987:189). And the 'mediums .. which we u s e are usually those which we ourselves have experienced. This leads to a self-perpetuating cycle where the methods we conceptualize and know how to use are those which maintain the status quo. However, by becoming aware of the limitations of methods which maintain inequality, we can become aware of other methods and create cultures which use method s
7 5 which empower as they instruct. The methods we use are based on communication patterns. Bryson and Bromiley describe the importance of communication in change (1993:334): The critical role for planners appears to be the efforts they make to foster and to promote problem solving ... Communication and problem solvmg ... directly affect outcomes. Our study agrees with others that have shown that key planning skills include the ability to think analyze and synthes ize d a t a communicate effectively and engage in constructive conflict resolution activities. Good process management makes a positive contribution to project success The topic of improving communication processes will be returned to again when strategie s for overcoming some of these predictable barriers are discussed later in this chapter. Creating Active Community Participation A significant issue for United for Kids in regard to community participation was the rol e that the community residents would assume in the change process. The official purpose of the Neighborhood Advisory Council was to advise United for Kids about community members concerns and involve additional community members in organi z ational activiti es. However, it was not clear whether community residents would serve onl y to a d v i s e U nit e d for Kids about plans created by United for Kids leadership or would also plan s trategie s to overcome is s ues of priority to them. Community resident s were considere d t o b e full members of the Board of Trustees however, as st a ted earlier, community re s ident s h a d little impact on the decision-making process. Including community re s ident s as m e mb e r s of representative committees as de s cribed above, ha s the tendency to dilute their pow e r Wood describes three conditions that must be obtained to create meaningful citi ze n participation (Wood 1984:232): First the participants must be in the positi o n of decision m a k e r r a th e r th a n deci s i o n influencer; second all particip a nt s must be in possession of, or h a v e ac c es s t o, th e requisite information on which deci s ions ?e reached ; a nd full p a rticip atio n requires equal power on the p a rt of parttctpants to determtne the out c om es o l decisions.
76 Benz ( 1 c;J75: 118) suggests that rather "than centralizing citizen activity so it functions under an elite hierarchy, organizing should be defined and led primarily by the people themselves. United for Kids could have resolved this dilemma by providing the Neighborhood Advisory Council with the training and guidance they needed to carry out plans to overcome issues of their own choosing. Doing this could help inspire ownership for the change effort and serve as a catalyst for the process of community empowerment which the organizational leaders wanted to occur. Another way to actively involve community residents is to create a climate where people's psychological needs are met (Fessler 1976). These include the need for fellowship, the need for a sense of belonging and feeling valued, and the need for recognition of each individual's unique contributions (Fessler 1976) In order to do thi s, an organization can create roles through which participants can contribute their unique capabilities and talents and discover and develop new channels of expression. This applies to both community members and to service providers. In fact creating situations where people from different cultural backgrounds are carrying out activities side-by-side t o achieve shared goals can provide the opportunities for people to get to know each other. In the next section, I will briefly cover several strategies which can be us e d to overcome interaction patterns that maintain the status quo. Strategies for Transformation The information presented in this chapter points to four areas which organi ze r s should pay attention to in order to bring about meaningful change. These includ e : 1) Changes in community residents' beliefs and know how (e mpowerment) ; 2) Changes in service providers' beliefs and know-how (sharing power );
77 3) The use of effective communication processes and the creation of a shared vision; and 4) The combination of the above with the use of effective strategic planning activities. If we are going to meaningfully involve people who have traditionally not been included in the decision-making and reality-defining process, we have to not only be willing to share power and live this ideal by critically self-reflecting to discover the limits of our own views of reality, we also have to really listen to people and consider the reality of their views. Part of this process may have to include teaching people who have been disenfranchised to develop more critical awareness concerning issues which impact them and how to communicate what is important to them effectively in dialogue and planning groups. It is necessary, not only for those in power to share power, but for those who have traditionally been powerless, to act in a way which is powerful--to voice themselves in an effective way. Giroux describes this as "the willingness to act as if they were living in a democratic society" (cited in Wood 1984:230). Ideally, a situation is one where everyone is empowered and valued. Another part of this process will involve overcoming the limiting beliefs which people who have traditionally been disenfranchised may hold. For example, it is necessary for people to overcome beliefs in their powerlessness and gain more of an internal, in contrast to external, locus of control. One way of supporting community residents in a process of becoming aware of larger processes which effect them and their power in relation to the world is to engage in Paulo Freire's model of empowerment. According to Wilson and Mondros ( 1982:26-27): "Friere offers four stages of empowerment and their characteristics: man's ability to be an actor rather than a subject, to act on the basis of rational rather than magical thinking, to be increasingly committed to an ideology of change and to in-group ties, and to view the world as a challenge rather than a limit. Friere's
78 techniques of education are a dynamic process of thought-action-reflection which facilitate empowerment." Wallerstein ( 1993:222) describes this process: To Freire, the purpose of education should be human liberation, which means people are subjects of their own learning, not empty vessels filled by teachers knowledge To promote the learner as subject, Freire proposes a dialogue approach in which everyone participates as co-learners to understand and create a jointly constructed reality. The goal of group dialogue is critical thinking or posing problems in s uch a way as to uncover root causes of one s place in society--the socio-economic political cultural, and historical context of personal lives. But critical thinking continues beyond perception--towards the actions that people can take to gain control over their lives True knowledge evolves from the interaction of reflection and action (o r pra x is) to transform the social conditions ... [This is a three-stage method:] ... The first step is listening for the key issues and emotional concerns of community people. These underlying issues can be thought of as hidden voices ," which can block learning, or if they become a central focus can unleash learning and motivation to change. The second step is promoting participatory dialogue about these concerns The third step is taking action about the concerns that are discussed. This final step is not an end-point, but only part of the continuous cycle of action and reflection. After one action, students return to dialogue to reflect on their successes and failures, tore-listen for the key issues raised by the action, and to strategize new directions for actions. Another anaiogous process which can be used to empower community resident s i s to involve them in participatory action research (Sarri and Sarri 1992) In this proce ss, community residents engage in a process of producing knowledge and developing pla n s for action The research process is the innovation This process helps participants to engage in a process of reflection which will help them gain more understanding of soc i a l and political issues and their impact on their own lives. Both Freire's empowerment education and participatory action research are based on the idea of praxis: translating beliefs (formed as a result of critical social and political analysis) into action. Neither reflection nor action are adequate alone. It is essential that community members are not the only ones who are engaged in a process of reflection It is also necessary for service providers to participate in a proc ess of critica l selfreflection (and subsequent action) Greenman et al. point out ( 1992: I 06): Not only must individuals examine themselves criti cally in their c ultur a l contexts but they must also examine the institutions they create and perpetuate. Aspects of structure that inhibit change incongruent with th e rhetoric supporting diversity continually must be tdenttfted and addressed r a ther th an seen as the only right and l ogica l way to proceed.
79 Foster (1986: 19) states: "A culture ... must engage in frequent dialectical analysis to prevent one particular way of viewing things from overriding the rightful expression of other perspectives." In fact, organizations may want to hire consultants who can facilitate the process of teaching community members to become bicultural (able to operate successfully both in their communities and in the larger culture) and teaching service providers to become multicultural (open to the validity of alternative worldviews and ways of doing things) both in their awareness and actions. Organizations that wish to revitalize their processes and procedures can hire consultants who can help them to do so. For example, Edgar Schein (1969) describes his role as a process consultant (Schein 1%9:9): ... [a process consultant! ... seeks to give the client [often the manager or director! "insight" into what is going on around him, within him, and between him and other people. The events to be observed and learned from are primarily the various human actions which occur in the normal flow of work, in the conduct of meetings and in formal or informal encounters between members of the organization. Of particular relevance are the client's own actions and their impact on other people. The processes which Schein considers to be the most crucial for effective organizational performance include: 1) communication; 2) member roles and functions in groups; 3) group problem-solving and decision-making; 4) group norms and group growth; 5) leadership and authority; and 6) intergroup cooperation and competition within the organization. The process consultant works with the organization and its leader to revitalize organizational functioning so that barriers such as ineffective communication processes are overcome. The consultant works with the client and organization in such a way that they are able to continue this process after the consultant leaves the picture. This type of process can be facilitated by consultants or can be learned by organizational leaders so that they can facilitate g r oup processes which will lead to a higher potential for success.
80 Chapter Summary This chapter looked at obstacles to meaningful change by identifying predictable barriers to the change process. An examination of these barriers led to an exploration of the power of our beliefs in creating our realities and the limits that our beliefs can have on our conceptions concerning the way to go about things. It was pointed out that the processe s used to bring about change indeed determine the outcome. Therefore, from this view, the ends don'tjustify the means; the means create the ends. Active participation of community members is necessary to reach the end of empowerment. In order to overcome habitual processes of interaction which perpetuate the status quo, strategies which can be u se d to empower community residents and service providers are described. These strategies include empowerment education and participatory action research. This chapter concludes by recommending that interested organizations hire facilitators to support revitalization of organizational processes or hire leaders who are able to do so.
81 CHAPTER 5. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS This thesis has explored an understanding of the difficulties inherent in attempts to bring about progressive social change for African Americans both in education and in the larger American culture. In order to understand the contribution that various sectors of society have on the perpetuation of these problems, the experiences of Black Americans in the educational realm are presented within a cultural ecological framework. This framework looks at forces in the home, school and community environments and their interaction with each other and beliefs and structural conditions in the macroculture The interaction s of these forces are illustrated in a real life example of a community organization which was created to overcome these problems. An analysis of contradictions between the organization's grassroots ideals and business as usual" practices reveals the source of these problems as residing in the limiting conceptions people have about reality" and the commonsensical way of how to go about things. This discussion points to the import a nce that beliefs and the practices which are carried out as the result of these b eliefs ha ve o n either bringing about transformational change or perpetuating the status quo. During an exploration of these issues several routes which organization s can tak e in order to bring about meaningful change are described. These routes have in common the need to engage in a process of reflection in combination with action ( praxis) in order to expose limiting beliefs and engage in practices and procedures which result in meaningful change. This discussion points out the need to make changes in the belief sys tem s and know-how of both community residents and service providers and offers strategies which can be used to embark upon this process. These methods includ e the u se o f s trat eg ie s u se d in participatory action research and Paulo Freire s model of empowerment education
82 These methods help to prepare individuals to deal "critically and constructively with realit y and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world" ( Richard Shaull in Foreword of Freire 1970 : 15). Organizations interested in engaging in efforts which will result in transformative change are urged to hire leaders who are skilled at facilitating such processes or can hire facilitators who can teach organizational members how to do so. The leadership of the organization can provide support for and modeling of transformative practices which are essential to bring about real change. As discussed in Chapter 4 doing so is not easy because of the difficulty of sharing power and our limited knowledge concerning how to do so. Finally I urge researchers and practitioners to engage in the creation of change efforts which model the transformative practices discussed in this thesis. By doing so they can provide the real life experiences a nd understanding which are needed in order to teach people to overcome the limited beliefs and know-how which keep us in the same plac e. Elliot Eisner (1990) points out the possibilities which can be realized by translating our ideals into action Although Eisner refers to changes in schools this statement a pplies to all cultural spheres. He states ( 1990 : 90): Everyone knows what a culture is--it is a place for growing things and school s a r e places for growing minds The curricula we offer and the teaching methods we employ are means for creating minds It is in this s ense that the curriculum i s a mind-altering device and the school a culture for growing minds. A s thi s conception of mind takes root in our conceptual life it creates an optimism for education for it emphasizes the possibilities of schooling, its capacity to make a difference in the kind of minds that students can come to own The kind of cultur e we create in schools, the forms of thinking we cultivate the forms of represent a tion we make available the recognition of the relationship between what we g i ve students an opportunity to learn and the content of their experience is intimately related to a conception of inquiry that regards humans as creators of knowl e dge a nd makers of mind Given this conception. we are more likely to cease seeking a fixed measurable entity given at birth and seek instead to do what we can to g row minds the best we can. Our challenoe is to create environments which value the minds and hearts of member s of 0 our diverse popu l ation in both words a nd in action.
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