from S.C.A.M.'s Primary Developer:
BABA VICTOR B. GIBSON, MEd
It is my honor to present the School Cultural Assessment Matrix (SCAM) to you!
I sincerely hope that the acronym: S.C.A.M. will not be attributed to the negative, but rather used in the positive and progressive mindset in which it was constructed as an assessment device.
S.C.A.M. is a tool devised specifically for the parents and caregivers of African American children. This Assessment Matrix has been developed by me, a social worker who became a seasoned educator with over 20+ years of teaching in an African-Centered School in the Detroit Public School System (DPS).
Photo of Malcolm X Academy, the first fully African-Centered Institution within the Detroit Public School system (and I'm quite sure, the nation). If interested in learning more about it's founder, Dr. Watson and his educational practices, see the book he and Dr. Geneva Smitherman co-authored: Educating African America Males: Detriot's Malcolm X Academy Solution.
Click book image to review
The S.C.A.M. toolkit is also a collaboration with Conscious African-Centered trained instructors. It is dedicated to the memory and work of Dr. Clifford Dean Watson, the late Founder and Principal of the Malcolm X Academy in Detroit, Michigan.
To make the School Cultural Assessment Matrix FREELY accessible to all parents.
To have the School Cultural Assessment Matrix made into a mobile phone APP.
The fourth of seven children, I was born in Charlotte, North Carolina (one year before Brown v. Board). Four years later, my parents relocated to Detroit, Michigan where I attended the Detroit Public Schools from kindergarten — 10th grade before dropping out. I left home to live with friends in the community for two years. Witnessing my friends’ families is where I earned the meaning of strong family ties and selflessness. I also learned the value and joy of sharing and caring for others.
After graduating from SWU (also known as “Side Walk University”) and earning a Ph.D from the streets, I “dropped back in” to formal school in 1971 and earned my General Education Diploma at Atterbury Job Corps in Franklin, Indiana. I continued my education by enrolling in Highland Park Community College in Highland Park, MI, before transferring to Morgan State College in Coldsprings, Maryland and majoring in Pre-Med.
It wasn't easy. Hard-pressed financially, I had to return home to Detroit to complete my undergraduate degree. (My BA degree is in Sociology from Wayne State University). In my senior year, with all prerequisites completed, I entered into a graduate student Social Services program called, “Parents and Children Together” (PACT). A PACT counselor’s responsibilities centered on reuniting children as temporary court wards with their biological families, as well as assisting parents with the court's mandates for the return of their children. I spent two year as a PACT Senior Counselor. Then I was hired at Evergreen Children’s Services, a purchase of services agency working with Wayne County Protective Services, as a monitor for children in foster care. Eventually I came to work for Lafayette Mental Health Clinic in the Residential Adolescent Unit. It was during this period of time, working closely with troubled youth, that I got started on the next leg of my life’s journey.
News of the Detroit Public School’s push for African Centered Education had been circulating around the city for six months. One of the central figures in this movement was Dr. Clifford Dean Watson, who I had the honor to work with at Peck Elementary School, while he was serving as a volunteer Spanish teacher in 1985.
In 1990, Dr. Watson established Malcolm X Academy (MXA), one of three African Centered Education (ACE) schools. Dr. Watson lured me from Evergreen Children’s Services to become an Educational Tech into “Spanish Culture” for students at MXA. For the next two years, I was part of a cohort of Education Techs and Para-professionals who created a Master’s Program called “Alternative Pathways to Teaching (APT),” and that's where I earned my certification in Education. (It was a joint venture between the Detroit Public Schools and Dewitt Wallace / City College of New York to increase qualified/certified teachers.) This program, coupled with MXA as an ACE school, had all staff participate in professional development through “Normative Training” of African culture. The professional development training was taught by some of the foremost Ph.D.’s of that time including: Drs. John H. Clarke, Asa Hilliard, Wade Nobles, Molefi Asante, Haki Mahabuti, Jawanza Kanjufu and Na'im Akbar. These great men were my mentors and teachers.
After completing the APT/MAT Program, I was given a first grade classroom at MXA. I nurtured, not just my watotos (students), but also their parents. I did this for 7 years before looping up to become a seventh grade teacher, for some of the same students I taught as first graders. Malcom X Academy was a Kindergarten through Eighth grade school. I repeated this looping again after seven years, to teach first grade once again.
With 23 solid years of teaching at MXA (later renamed to Paul Robeson Malcolm X Academy), I was forced to retire. I did not want to leave the students, but found that I had no choice. I had seen too much to remain silent and compliant after the 1999 State of Michigan takeover of the Detroit Public Schools and the “Emergency Management's” dismantling of DPS ($100 million surplus – $2.5 billion debt) in 17 years of state control. It was impossible to be a “farmer” and a “soldier” on the same plantation.
I have chosen to use my knowledge and energy to fight for equity in culturally relevant education. There is no question that ACE is the answer to Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome decimating and destroying the lives and futures of so many in our community. I have seen a community "village” turn into a killing zone with family killing family.
I know that culture dictates and influences behavior. This is the core reason I created S.C.A.M. (School Cultural Assessment Matrix). If we don’t advocate for an ethnic and cultural curriculum to be included in all aspects of education for children of African ancestry, these killing zones will spread. Furthermore, the only way to resist the negative effects of living in an alien culture— is to live and thrive inside our own.
We can’t allow America to continue to run their "scam" on our children. We must demand the right to educate our children—for without it, we continue suffering by their miseducation. That is why S.C.A.M. has been designed to bring all rights-holders in the community and in schools, together.
"Running in the streets of Detroit (as a teen) provided me with a deep appreciation of culture, and its importance in preparing young African American youth for community life in America."
Chapters 1 & 2: From a HS drop-out to to earning a degree in Sociology provided an insight into life's ever- changing hurdles.
Mentored by great scholars, and trained to teach in an African- Centered School, this was my life's work for almost a 1/4 of a century.
The struggle to change the cultural status quo in schools... the activism to raise parents' awareness to their rights... and to fight the politics of education that robs the truth and distorts children's image of Africa and themselves, is hard but
"I loved my profession and every year of the hundreds of students I taught, but I made the right decision to retire when I did from the traditional classroom.
When the State Control and an Emergency Manager took over the Detroit Public Schools (DPS), teachers hands were tied and nothing could stop the top-down politics of the education system from negatively infecting the school community. After a time, the intrusion of brutish, authoritative control upon the school's climate and the quality of my work, caused me to say, enough.
In truth, I felt I could no longer perform as both a farmer and a soldier on the DPS plantation."