It’s not yet for sale, but I recently received a book written by the (officially) former director of American Indian Public Charter School, Ben Chavis. It’s titled, “Crazy like a fox: One principal’s triumph in the inner city.”
The book begins like this:
Before I became principal, people called American Indian Public Charter School the zoo. …
The students smoked cigarettes, fought, drank, and broke beer and liquor bottles on Magee Avenue, the road lining the school. There were old, dingy mattresses nearby where they had sex. A staff member allegedly sold drugs to the students, some of whom snuck into a tool shed on campus to smoke pot. Students threw water balloons off the roof and computers out the class windows.
The narrative bounces between Chavis’s Lumbee upbringing in North Carolina (Takeaway message: People in the Deep South, even some Klan members, are not as racist as some in the Bay Area might think), his musings on race and racial mixing, his educational philosophy and respect for No Child Left Behind, success stories of some of his former students — and, of course, how he salvaged the American Indian School, took away its drumming circles and instilled serious discipline and a laser-like focus on math and reading.
The teachers were strict, and I was “crazy,” as some refer to me. Crazy like a fox is the way I look at it. I behave aggressively, demand success, and keep the fools at bay, as it says in Proverbs in the Bible.
For all of the history he includes about American Indians, he doesn’t really address the fact that only four Native American students attended the two middle schools last year, according to the California Department of Education, compared to 22 in 2000-01 and 45 (nearly half of the school’s population) in 2001-02. He suggests that their numbers remained fairly constant during his tenure there (“If you look at the number of Indian students attending the school, it has basically stayed the same over the course of my years at the school”).
But the statistics I’ve seen show a steep drop in 2006-07.
I wonder where all of the American Indian students went.