Black Immersion Schools


This Article addresses the propriety of public, all-male, Black, immersion schools. Immersion schools have grown in number, especially over the last decade.6 In the Black community, they have become an appealing alternative to the often-deteriorated, mainstream public education system. In the last few years, the popular press has questioned the propriety of immersion schools, heightening and publicizing controversies over their establishment. In addition, numerous scholars have recently commented on the subject. Many of these writers, both academic and journalistic, concentrate on the constitutional implications of immersion schools. While the constitutional dimension deserves attention, focusing on constitutionality alone may be misleading because such an analysis assumes that the constitutionality of immersion schools represents the thresh-old, if not dispositive, issue. However, the existence of immersion schools raises an even more salient issue; that is, whether they can be effective in educating children who live in isolated Black communities. Society’s marked neglect of the needs of Black children makes an initial focus on constitutional matters ring hollow.


A threshold question we must try to answer is whether we, as a society, are willing to try to save Black children. A plausible answer to this question may be that we are not willing. We prefer to let Black children live in segregated, racial isolation in areas with a poor property tax base and, if they desire alternative education, we make them pay for it through private institutions or through narrow improvement of the existing public school system. If this is indeed the answer, then all other issues, including the constitutionality of immersion schools, are largely irrelevant. However, if we are seriously concerned about saving Black children, then a number of questions become important, including whether immersion schools are a credible means to achieve this end.

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