Black Homeschooling Is A Choice

By: Jamilah Hawkins

In some circles, homeschooling has been controversial in the black community due to the hardships African-Americans faced who fought for equal educational opportunities. Brown v. Board of Education was passed in 1954 to enforce the integration of public schools for Black and Brown students and their White counterparts. Many Black family members and education activists fought long and hard for those rights. However, nowadays there is a rise in the numbers of Black parents who are choosing to homeschool as a way to protect and do what they believe is best for their children.

Paula Penn-Nabrit, an African American scholar and writer who homeschooled her children in the 1990s, experienced this situation firsthand and addressed her reasonings for choosing homeschool. “A lot of people felt that because my family was intimately involved in the effort to integrate schools, that for me to pull my children out of schools was a betrayal of all that work,” she said. “But it really wasn’t. The case had nothing to do with what I, as a parent, decide I want for my child. That decision meant the state can’t decide to give me less than, but I can decide I want more than” (Huseman, 2015).

Since the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954 until today in 2020, we are still experiencing racial disparities in education. Homeschooling has become an outlet for Black families to take a stand for their children and express their liberation and choice. For some families, homeschooling is a protest against the oppressive, marginalizing, and devaluing behavior that Black families have experienced in public school systems. Black neighborhood schools are disproportionately underfunded and curriculums overwhelmingly lack cultural and historical representation.

One of the hallmarks of Black homeschooling is that African American parents are implementing Afro-centric curriculums that teach their children about the historical contributions of Black people. This affirms them and helps to build a strong foundation that promotes confidence and self-esteem.

There are several ways that African-Americans enter the homeschooling space — either via homeschooling or unschooling. Homeschooling often refers to the act of making the decision to educate their children prior to attending public, private, or charter schools.  Unschooling is the act of taking their children out of an educational institution not meeting their child’s needs and having to rethink and redefine school on their own terms.  In addition, there are several strategies for conducting homeschooling – via co-ops or microschools.  Both co-ops and microschools value the importance of community and collaboration in which parents contribute their skills to providing lessons, classes, extracurricular services to the children and families involved.

In light of the inequities that were laid bare by COVID-19 school shutdowns, more and more Black families say that they intend to continue homeschooling. In fact, Dr. Cheryl Fields-Smith, co-founder of  Black Family Homeschool Educators and Scholars says she’s seen a dramatic increase in homeschooling inquiries due to COVID-19. 

In my opinion, it is simply time to stop fighting for the system, and we surely should not still be fighting with the system. This is not to say that those who advocated for integration of schools were wrong for fighting for inclusion, but if decades have gone by and racial injustices persist to the detriment of Black students, then it is time to go back to the drawing board and write a new game plan.

There should be no condemnation towards Black parents who choose to homeschool their children. Homeschooling may well be a way to put an end to the massive achievement gap and institutionalized discrimination and racism that festers in public education institutions. Yes, the fight continues to this day, but Black parents who choose to homeschool are winning this battle in their own way.

Jamilah Hawkins is an education major at Albany State University. She is a 2020 research intern at the Albany State University Center for Educational Opportunity.

Albany State University Center for Educational Opportunity Hosts Teacher Leader Discussion on Promoting Racial Equity and Social Justice in the Classroom

What: A Discussion on Promoting Racial Equity and Social Justice in the Classroom

When: Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Time: 7 p.m.

Where: Online – Register to receive Zoom link

Join us on Tuesday, August 18, 2020, at 7 p.m., for a conversation with two nationally recognized Teachers of the Year — Dr. Lee Ann Stephens and Mr. Abdul Wright — as they explore teaching racial equity and social justice in the classroom.

This is the second in a series of conversations to emerge from the publication of the white paper: A Sacred Space: 12 Expert Teachers Share Stories of Resilience, Success and Leadership, sponsored by the Albany State University Center for Educational Opportunity.

About the Presenters

Dr. Lee-Ann Stephens, Minnesota Teacher of the Year 2006, has been an educator for 30 years with K-12 teaching and leadership experience. She currently serves as a teacher on special assignment with St. Louis Park Schools in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, as a Racial Equity and Instructional Coach. She is an affiliate with Pacific Educational Group: Courageous Conversations about Race. She serves as an Inclusion Advisor for Integrated Schools and an advisor for Students Organized for Anti-Racism. She holds a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership. Her scholarship focuses on the needs of Black and Brown students in Advanced Placement classes.

Mr. Abdul Wright is an eighth grade Language Arts teacher and Instructional Coach and Data Team leader in North Minneapolis. He received the Minneapolis PeaceMaker award from the City of Minneapolis in 2015, received “ the You’ve Made a Difference” award from Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in 2015 and 2016, and is the recipient of the 2016 Minnesota Teacher of the Year award, the first black male to receive the award, the youngest, and the first from a charter school. In 2018, Mr. Wright was identified as a Minnesota African American Heritage Award Honoree. He also serves as the board chair of Mastery Charter School in North Minneapolis.

Reserve your space today on Eventbrite and bring a friend.

Use the hashtag #ASacredSpace

Target audience: Educators, Policymakers, Parents

National Home Education Research Institute President Offers Teaching Tips for Parents

Many millions of parents now find themselves as school-teachers-at-home during this serious health concern. Many of them are finding out that they, as parents, are teachers, by definition. Parents should relax and enjoy their children and realize that relationship and learning are more valuable than “following the institutional school curriculum.”

Parents, read aloud to your child for 15 minutes per day and have him read aloud to you something he chooses for 15 minutes per day. Discuss what you read with her. Have him write a letter per day to grandma, the zookeeper, or the store-owner. Help her do her math lesson, at whatever level she is, then move on to the next.

There are many “free” online learning resources that are not dependent on public and private school systems that homeschoolers have been effectively using for decades. Go on long walks with your child. Remember to relax and enjoy learning with your children and not try to duplicate institutional school in your home.

If your child cannot yet read, go online (or to a store) and find a simple and enjoyable phonics program, and do it with him. You can do, in home-based education, generally in two hours with a child what it takes about six hours for him or her to accomplish in six hours.

Parents are spending time teaching and learning and going on walks with their children during the day. Although many families are not able at this time to go to libraries, museums, and family co-ops (co-operatives) as homeschoolers usually do, the barriers to homeschooling are coming down across the United States and around the world as parents find out that they are competent to teach and do not necessarily need government-provided curriculum, state-licensed teachers, and $12,000 of tax dollars for their children to learn and enjoy learning.

Parents who have been forced to teach at home are learning many of the things that the last 35 years of homeschooling have brought to the table.

Brian D. Ray, Ph.D. is president of National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) and the Editor‑in‑Chief of Home School Researcher, a peer-reviewed journal.

ASU Center for Educational Opportunity Convenes Teacher Leaders for an Open Discussion on Reclaiming Humanity in Trauma-Informed Classrooms and Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline

More than 150 registered with almost 70 education advocates participating in the first of a series of webinars co-hosted by Albany State University Center for Educational Opportunity and Tall Poppy, Inc. on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. The discussion centered on teachers in their roles as advocates for social justice in schools. The session was facilitated by Katherine Bassett, CEO of Tall Poppy, Inc. and featured teacher leaders Kelisa Wing, 2017 Maryland Teacher of the Year, who shared solutions for dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline; and Kimberly Worthy, 2009 DC Teacher of the Year, who shared the work of reclaiming the humanity of children in trauma-informed classrooms. A link to the recording can be found here.

Are The Good Times Really Rolling? New Orleans Public Schools Remain Disproportionately Affected By a Broken School System

By: Alanna Beasley

Public schooling in Louisiana has long been systematically and generationally impacted by the tradition of what “free” education is. The year 1863 marked the beginning of a long history of inequity regarding life, living, and public education of black children in the City of New Orleans – the year of emancipation of people of color. This year marked the establishment of the very first public school dedicated solely to the “spirituality” of black children. From the outset, black education in Louisiana disregarded the necessity of academics as a priority for black students.

In a report written in 1902 by Assistant Superintendent of New Orleans Public Schools Nicholas Bauer he writes “ …to teach the negro is a different problem. His natural ability is that of low character and it is possible to bring him to a certain level beyond which it is impossible to carry him.” Imagine being devalued before you are even afforded the opportunity to enter a classroom.  That spirit has festered. (Bauer Report, Dr. Raynard Sanders)

In 1917, the very first high school for Black Students (formally an all white, male school) was established in New Orleans by the name of McDonogh High School, and by the 1980-1981 school year, black students made up 84% of the public schools in New Orleans. By the 2004-2005 school year an astronomical 94% of the student population was black. Families with resources – both Black and White- sought alternative means of education, leaving public educational options to those who lacked those same resources.

After the initial integration of New Orleans schools on November 14, 1960, there was an extreme uproar f  rom white families. White families immediately began removing their children from the schools moving towards integration. Ultimately, white families either began moving out of the city entirely and into the suburbs or placing their children into private schools and taking their teachers and resources with them. (

Is it a coincidence that one of the lowest ranking public school systems in the nation houses a majority black student body? History may just be repeating itself, and, at this point, it is no secret that white schools and black schools in Louisiana were and still are separate and unequal, disproportionate in every way, from teacher participation to the quality of learning, and it is not looking too hopeful. Compound this reality with one of ongoing racial injustices and a nationwide pandemic of today and you have the manifestations of systemic racism that have so permeated institutions within these United States. (

Systematically, we have seen no change in the narrative of public education in New Orleans. Time and time again there have been strategies to combat the lack of educational attainment by the students that have historically received subpar education. This is partially because of the inadequate funds for the large and intense projects that would be needed to cause a complete 180 degree change in the scope of New Orleans’ public education.

After Hurricane Katrina washed much of this beloved city away, repairing the school system was taken on by the Recovery School District (RSD) and The Orleans Parish School System. They created a project called the School Facilities Master Plan of New Orleans which was intended to address existing conditions, including the erection of school buildings that were “innovative” and “transformative.” In 2008, this promising project created a positive outlook on education for these students allowing them to have access to facilities that were meant for success. (

Fast forward to today and student achievement in New Orleans has still been stagnant since 2014. Why does New Orleans, out of the top ten districts, still have the highest percentage of economically disadvantaged students? How do we get to the root of the problem if we have developed initiatives for students to be successful, yet see no change? It seems that we persist in ignoring an important truth that children from disadvantaged families and children from affluent families have backgrounds that are very disproportionate. Those children who are disadvantaged are bound for a life of lower achievement, and they will have difficulty breaking free from this cyclical outcome. It is time to change the narrative of what it looks like for New Orleans students to have educational attainment and student achievement. (

I am a firm believer that education is the foundation of everything we do. One thing students and families should never have to fight for is knowledge, but does knowledge really start with the condition of a school facility? As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. declared 50 years ago, inequity in schools must be addressed through reform, but food security, healthcare, and job security policies also must be implemented to take direct actions against poverty that will then provide the context within which education reform can succeed.

I am a direct product of the Louisiana school system. The conversations I have been able to have with my peers have shown me that broken systems create complacency. So many of my peers chose to be okay with the fact that they must settle because they were never given the resources for success. Many of these students were more worried about providing a steady income for their households and putting food on their tables for their younger siblings to eat rather than receiving their education. If the same issues were happening five decades ago when Dr. King advocated for equity, we should be evaluating what direct actions have taken place and how effective they have been. When we start to implement reform in areas surrounding poverty and education, that is when we will start to see student success in the public school system escalate.

Any genuine effort to reform schools must be holistic in scope. Children’s lives and their livelihoods for generations depend on it. It is time to move with purpose to provide adequate education to our youth.

Alanna Beasley is a senior, economics major, computer science minor at Spelman College. She attended Louisiana public schools in Lake Charles and is a 2020 summer research intern at Albany State University Center for Educational Opportunity.