Mary Lim

Thursday, September 17, 2015

va: interview with Darron

It was interesting to hear the differences in Michael and Darron's responses to our questions. Michael spoke more about strategy and the overall history, while Darron talked more about what it's like to live here and the community. Like Michael, Darron first talked about the history of Academie Lafayette. It started 15 years ago, with a 60:40 minority ratio. The problem though, is that the numbers have flipped. Now, it's 65% white and 22% black. He mentioned that diversity is digressing, mostly in part because they aren't paying as much attention to diversity as they were before.

Darron then talked about a group he created called Parents Promoting Diversity. After he saw the problem of AL getting less and less diverse as the grades got younger, he called together parents who cared about this issue and solutions they can find. About 30-40 parents are involved. At first, their goal was to find a recruiter, which they achieved. From that, they needed a continuous source of funding. The purpose for this community, Darron said, was to increase the visibility of the opportunity for kids on the east of Troost. He commented that the reason why those on the east side don't know about AL is mostly in part because they don't "speak to each other." Places like Brookside have parents spreading news about AL through word-of-mouth, but they don't have that.

After we told him what Michael said about everyone viewing AL with trust, Darron replied that it depends from what perspective you view the school from. Some actually view the school as "privileged" and in a negative light.

We then asked him about his background, and he explained that he wanted to stay where he's living now, on the east side of Troost, as his own sense of mission. As a middle-class black man with two kids, he has a more varied outlook on the community.

In response to our problem statement about AL, Darron talked about another group he's involved in which is called Academie Lafayette Expansion, which is what we're going to base our project off of.

  • history of Academie Lafayette
    • 15 years ago
    • 60:40 minority ratio --> but now is flipped, more white (65% white, 22% black)
    • "it's easier to destroy something than create it."
    • diversity is digressing 
    • decline in paying attention to diversity because of the "sibling pool/diversity" (siblings were coming in and were not keeping an eye on diversity)
  • Parents Promoting Diversity
    • 30-40 parents involved - only meet when necessary
    • he created it because "as grades got younger it became less diverse"
    • Darron saw this problem and emailed parents and the school that would care - set up meetings and wanted to school to recognize the problem
    • goal was to get funding for a recruiter
      • were able to get a grant, but they needed a continuous source for funding
      • which they completed - now have a part-time position
    • purpose was for the opportunity to go and apply - kids east of Troost don't know about the opportunity
    • reason its important to go to the black community, in places like Waldo and Brookside people are talking to each other and spreading the news word of mouth, but in the black community, is not being spread (not talking to each other)
    • spreading information about Academie Lafayette
    • parents are going to east side programs and spread awareness
    • paying attention to the East side of Troost
    • K-4 going to preschools to spread information about AL
    • "what people see east of troost is a different narrative"
      • people east of troost have a negative outlook for AL as a privileged school
      • the purpose of this program was to break down that barrier
    • goal is to expand east of troost because people want to live by the school
  • Southwest HS Building
    • tried to merge with this school, but people there had negative outlook on AL
    • tried to expand to this school 
  • Darron's background
    • wanted to stay in the area because he has a sense of mission to stay because he's lived here his entire life
    • has also lived in other places, so has a more varied perspective for that area
  • Lincoln
    • 1978 changed to a magnet program which made the school more diverse (so he had a diverse experience)
      • first time this had happened, but it also was not difficult to transition to the diversity (was only diverse because it was the first time it happened)
    • 10 years post to MLK being shot
  • East of Troost
    • lack of leadership
    • 27 district leaders (ridiculous number for there to be so many district leaders)
  • Expansion of AL high school branch
    • do not have to test to get in the high school (current kids will not have to test - people may see this as an advantage)
    • educational system hates AL 
    • AL is well known in the white community, but distrusted in the black community
    • Darron wants the head of the school and community leaders to just listen to people that have problem with AL to just hear their issues (not trying to solve their problems, just listen)
    • more likely to expand elementary school before a high school
      • the high school would have to be focused on academics, and then extracurriculars later (which is what a lot of people want in high school)
      • can't take the risk of opening the school and then closing it (has to be sustainable)
    • Darron works on the Marketing & Communications Department of the high school expansion for AL
    • definitely want to the school to be east of Troost
  • Other resources:
    • Laura McDonald
    • Melva Brownley

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