Marva Collins, 78, No-Nonsense Educator and Activist, Dies

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Marva Collins, a former surrogate clergyman whose success during educating bad black students in a private propagandize she founded done her a claimant for secretary of preparation and a theme of a radio movie, died on Wednesday in a hospice nearby her home in South Carolina. She was 78.

Her genocide was reliable by Hospice Care of a Lowcountry in Bluffton, S.C.

After operative as a surrogate clergyman for 14 years in Chicago open schools, Ms. Collins cashed in her $5,000 in grant assets and non-stop Westside Preparatory School in 1975. The propagandize creatively operated in a groundwork of a internal college and then, to be giveaway of red fasten (the same reason she pronounced she had refused sovereign funds), in a second building of her home.

She began with 4 students, including her daughter, charging $80 a month in tuition. Enrollment during a school, on Chicago’s South Side, grew to some-more than 200, in classes from prekindergarten by eighth grade. It remained in operation for some-more than 30 years.

Ms. Collins set high educational standards, emphasized fortify and promoted a nurturing environment. She taught phonics, a Socratic process and a classics and, she insisted, never approaching her students to fail.

Marva Collins

Jim Wilson/The New York Times

“Kids don’t fail,” she once said. “Teachers fail, propagandize systems fail. The people who learn children that they are failures — they are a problem.”

At Westside Prep, she pronounced in 2004 when she was awarded a National Humanities Medal, “there are no dropouts, no surrogate teachers, and when teachers are absent, a students learn themselves.”

“We’re an curiosity in a universe of negatives,” she added. “Our children are self-motivated, self-generating, self-propelled.”

An essay about a propagandize in 1977 in The Chicago Sun-Times captivated inhabitant attention, an talk on “60 Minutes” and a seductiveness of filmmakers, who went on to furnish “The Marva Collins Story,” a 1981 radio film on CBS with Cicely Tyson personification Ms. Collins and Morgan Freeman as her husband. She even seemed quickly in a video for Prince’s strain “The Most Beautiful Girl in a World.”

As her status as an clergyman grew, she began to sight other teachers from around a nation and published several books, including “ ‘Ordinary’ Children, Extraordinary Teachers” and “Marva Collins’ Way,” created with Civia Tamarkin. Speaking engagements followed.

In 1980, President-elect Ronald Reagan was pronounced to be disposition toward selecting Ms. Collins for secretary of education, though she pronounced she would reject a pursuit if it were offered. By that time she had already incited down offers to run a open propagandize systems in Chicago and Los Angeles.

Marva Delores Knight was innate in Monroeville, Ala., on Aug. 31, 1936. Her father, Henry, was a merchant, cattleman and undertaker. Her mom was a former Bessie Nettles.

Raised in Atmore, nearby Mobile, in a segregated South, she graduated from Clark College in Atlanta, now Clark Atlanta University, and taught in Alabama schools before relocating to Chicago. There she worked as a medical secretary before apropos a surrogate public-school teacher.

She married Clarence Collins, who died in 1995. They had 3 children, dual of whom, Eric and Patrick, tarry her, as does her mother, Bessie Mae Johnson; a sister, Cynthia Sutton; and her second husband, George R. Franklin.

In 1982, Ms. Collins was stung by accusations that she was not approved as a clergyman and that she had farfetched her record of success, though relatives of a children in her propagandize rallied to her defense. Her supporters pronounced that as a surrogate clergyman she had not indispensable grave certification; others pronounced their children had shown good swell after enrolling in a school.

“I’ve never pronounced I’m a superteacher, a spectacle worker, all those names they gave me,” she told The New York Times that year. “It’s astray to design me to live adult to it. I’m only a teacher.”

Ms. Collins after incited over a operation of Westside Prep to her daughter, Cynthia. It sealed in 2008, with annual fee during $5,500 and enrollment dwindling.

Ms. Collins changed to Hilton Head, S.C., where she orderly programs to sight teachers and administrators.

She insisted that she never craved awards or publicity. All she wanted, she told The Island Packet, a internal newspaper, in 2007, was “to be means to contend we got an A-plus on a assignment God gave me.”