Think Like a Girlpreneur: Empowering Black Female Collegiate Entrepreneurs

Date: Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Time: 6 – 7:30 p.m. EST

Location: Virtual Via Webex

The Center for Educational Opportunity presents Think Like a Girlpreneur: Empowering Black Female Collegiate Entrepreneurs. Do you have an interest in entrepreneurship? Do you have a product or service that you want to pitch in 90 seconds? If so, this event is for you and includes prizes, networking, resources and mentors!

Register by March 1, 2022

Panelists are Precious L. Williams and Kezia M. Williams.

Precious L. Williams is a 13-time national elevator pitch champion. She has also been been featured on “Shark Tank,” CNN, WSJ, Forbes Magazine, Black Enterprise Magazine, Essence Magazine, the movie “LEAP.” Her current clients include Microsoft, LinkedIn, Google, eBay, and more!

Kezia M. Williams is the founder of The Black upStart – a national initiative to train African-American entrepreneurs. She has more than ten years experience training millennials to crowdfund grants benefiting small businesses. Currently, she leads United Negro College Fund’s (UNCF) national entrepreneurship initiative. This program – funded by a $25 million grant – teaches African-American undergraduate and graduate scholarship recipients how to start successful and profitable businesses.

The program will be moderated by Dr. Kathaleena Edward Monds, professor of business, social entrepreneur and founding director of the Center for Educational Opportunity. Monds is also a graduate of two premiere entrepreneurship education programs, Babson’s Symposium for Entrepreneurship Educators and Oklahoma State’s Experiential Entrepreneurship Program. She currently teaches a human-computing interaction course which engages undergraduates in innovative product ideation exercises.

*This program is funded by a mini-grant from Southeast Minority Business Development Agency Business Growth Hub.

Register here

This Homeschooling co-op gives Detroit families a choice amid crisis

This article was first published at Project Forever Free

During National School Choice Week, education advocates amplify the importance of giving parents access to the best K-12 education options for their children. These options include traditional public schools, public charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling.

Among Black parents in the United States, homeschooling is a growing trend. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey the proportion of Black families homeschooling increased by five times, from 3.3% (April 23-May 5) to 16.1% in the fall (Sept 30-Oct 12). In many instances, the global COVID-19 crisis that shuttered schools was the catalyst. 

Such was the case for social entrepreneur and advocate Bernita Bradley, who in August 2020, formed Engaged Detroit, a homeschooling cooperative in response to COVID-19 school disruptions. The cooperative would grow to serve 32 Black families in Detroit.

“Children were tapping out … and we couldn’t wait for the school system to get it together,” said Bradley. Her own daughter, a high schooler frustrated by online learning, had threatened to drop out of high school and seek a GED. Bradley sprang into action to help her daughter, who is now a high-school graduate and college student, and in the process, helped a growing number of families and formed a supportive learning community.

What began as virtual pop-up opportunities on Facebook to share helpful resources with families struggling to keep their children engaged and learning evolved into a community of loosely-associated parents with a single goal to provide their children with quality educational opportunities in safe and culturally-affirming learning spaces.

We are trying to empower other parents to take control of their children’s education, to also take away some of the preconceived ideas about what education is supposed to look like, along with beginning to better understand and learn their children and their core desires and interests.

Eleanor*, an Engaged Detroit homeschool coach and parent.

The child-centered approach to learning resonated with many of the parents.

My motivation for homeschooling is really controlling the information that my daughter receives, as well as keeping up with her academic pace. I just never want to slow her down… It’s an individualized, tailored curriculum and that is what I prefer.

Jordan*, a homeschool dad.

My daughter is more of a visual learner, and she needs to have hands-on projects or project-based learning. It is better for her to see it in action to understand it. And sometimes, kids also need a little bit more time to spend on things … One of the things she told me she liked about homeschooling was that she gets a little bit more time like when math is a subject that is hard for her. She has the entire day to really understand the concept, maybe look up some videos to help her or ask additional questions. And then, she has a one-on-one tutor who sits in and really breaks everything down to her. I understand teachers don’t have that time, but some kids need that.

Zoey*, a homeschool mom.

According to Dr. Cheryl Fields Smith, a leading Black homeschool researcher, Black parents’ motivation to homeschool “evoke [bell] hooks’s (1990) notion of homeplace to argue that Black home education represents a vehicle of resistance to institutionalized racism and ideological mismatches between Black families and their children’s educational needs.”

Engaged Detroit set out to center childrens’ needs and provide parents with the tools to support them. Word-of-mouth spread quickly about what they were doing and the number of families who were interested soon multiplied. Bradley and her team helped families find curricula, navigate state laws regarding homeschooling, and provided “morale support” for parents. Through grants, and a network built over years of advocacy in her community, Bradley was able to get desks, supplies and printers donated to more than 300 children both within and outside of the homeschool network. 

The cooperative took on many characteristics of mutual aid societies of old and helped parents meet other exigencies as they arose, gathering resources that would help the families persist. This included partnering with more than 20 community partners to ensure that students had some aspects of a core curriculum. 

Among the partners were Brilliant Detroit, Detroit Area Pre-College of Engineering, Michigan State University Community School of Music for music classes from pre-K to seniors, and Detroit College Access Network to aid parents and students in understanding how to get their kids into college, to name a few. Black Scroll Collectiveprovided virtual tours centered around Black history. Online resources, including Outschool, provided extracurricular activities.

Parents who were interviewed reported discovering their children’s varying learning preferences, interests and aptitudes. Some found that even among their own children they had different types of learners. “That was a paradigm shift for some of the parents,” said Bradley, “because we had some parents who had their kids in three different schools.” 

Veritably, each parent reflected that their child experienced a new love for learning. 


“It is not just about my one kid, it is about all of our kids finding their joy and us helping them to curate that in the way they need to,” said coach *Lashawn. 

Children and parents experienced the myriad benefits of learning together. 

Parents are learning things about their children—how to homeschool effectively for their family and learning subject matter along the way, whether it’s having to refresh their skills so that they can teach it more effectively, or just in time as their children are learning to help them understand the information that they’re teaching.

*Eleanor, coach.

What’s been going well is the resources, communicating with other families, connecting with them, and learning from them.

Jessica*, an engaged parent.

The growing of confidence in these parents—that has been a huge increase, from being unsure if they even wanted to fully commit to homeschooling, many of them to the point where they’re not sure if they’re going to stop … That has been the biggest leap and indicator that this is going well, and then to hear them talk about their children thriving, their mood has improved, their relationship has improved, their desire to learn has increased, and their initiative to learn has begun to take place. Those are huge.

Eleanor,* coach.

While there were barriers experienced, including some parents doubting their efficacy and ability to teach their children, perceptions by some members in the community that they were not a bona fide homeschool collective and thereby ineligible for resources, Bradley and her team have persevered. Nearly all of the families interviewed said they would continue homeschooling even when schools reopened.


The phenomena of increasing Black home education represents a radical transformative act of self-determination, the likes of which have not been witnessed since the 1960s and 70s.”

During this critical inflection point in American K-12 education, Engaged Detroit has emerged as an exemplar among Black homeschool cooperatives. As the educational landscape continues to evolve, culture wars rage, achievement gaps widen and the education debt remains unpaid, homeschooling may emerge as a choice especially suited for Black families to exercise agency in ensuring that their children indeed have the best quality education that educates, empowers and inoculates them. Writes W.E.B. DuBois, “education must not simply teach work; it must teach life.” 

All parents may learn from the cooperative’s example and implement homeschooling best practices to supplement their own children’s learning.

“Our government is no better than the education we provide for its most marginalized communities. If schools won’t reimagine learning, parents will do it for their children,” Bradley said. 

To learn more, visit Engaged Detroit.

For more about homeschooling, read Homeschooling Black Children in the U.S. Theory, Practice, and Popular Culture.” 

*Interviews with parents and coaches who are a part of the Engaged Detroit Homeschool Cooperative were conducted as part of a research study. Interviewees’ names that appear with asterisks are pseudonyms.

Joy S. Jones serves as Outreach and Program Coordinator for the Albany State University Center for Educational Opportunity. The Center’s mission is to advance educational research in order to strengthen and empower fragile communities from the bottom up.

This article was first published at Project Forever Free

Renown attorney and author Paul Penn-Nabrit rebuts call for ban on homeschooling

As a matter of policy, I try not to critique someone’s work without addressing said someone directly. Here are my posted comments about the recent article which centers your opinions about homeschooling. 

I never cease to be amazed by how the very word “homeschooling” seems to work as a “cease and desist” order of critical thinking. And nowhere is this adherence to absolutism and dogma more prevalent than in the U.S.  In the years since my last book on this topic was published, Morning by Morning: How We Home-Schooled Our African-American Sons to the Ivy League @2003, Random House, I have done book events and discussions in Amsterdam, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Paris, and Singapore. Virtually all of them addressed and wrestled with the tension between the rights of the parent, the interests of the child and the rights of the State. Discussions were intense but rational and well-thought-out. They stood in  sharp contrast to similar discussions across the U.S. [I think our really scary and uncontrolled pandemic continues to be shedding stupidity!] 

But more than emotive responses, here are my thoughts about this article and the ideology driving the conflict it generates. On the one hand, institutionalized education, whether public, private, parochial or charter is rife with structural supports for systems of white supremacy that are internalized in pedagogy, policy, and curriculum development. The school-to-prison pipeline and the so-called “achievement gap” are but two areas where quantitative support of that premise is readily available for analysis. Equally disturbing is the mythological ideal of parents as perfected educators. Just as there are good teachers and bad teachers, there are good parents and bad parents. The biological or adoptive reality of parenting does not magically bestow a disciplined willingness to educate a child any more than buying or being gifted a piano bestows the disciplined willingness to practice and learn to play it well. Currently, one of my biggest concerns in the midst of this pandemic is what I am sadly certain will be a sharp uptick in domestic violence, and yeah, a bunch of it will be directed to children and many of the perpetrators will be their parents…some of whom will justify it. and happily post videos on various social media platforms.                            

So, I am hard-pressed to draft a clear rebuttal to this sophomoric article that seems clearly written and titled for maximum outrage, i.e.  “ways to monetize controversial ideologies.” An absolute ban on homeschooling is not tenable nor can it be balanced by the state’s vested interest in an educated citizenry and there are several U.S. Supreme Court cases that speak to this.                                                                                                

Example #1: SCOTUS’  1972 unanimous opinion in Wisconsin v. Yoder, “The Court held that individual’s interests in the free exercise of religion under the First Amendment outweighed the State’s interests in compelling school attendance beyond the eighth grade. In the majority opinion by Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, the Court found that the values and programs of secondary school were ‘in sharp conflict with the fundamental mode of life mandated by the Amish religion,’ and that an additional one or two years of high school would not produce the benefits of public education cited by Wisconsin to justify the law.”                                                                        

And for maximum outrage at the hypocrisy of this article, I’m looking at San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez..  “The Court refused to examine the system with strict scrutiny since there is no fundamental right to education in the Constitution and since the system did not systematically discriminate against all poor people in Texas. Given the similarities between Texas’ system and those in other states, it was clear to the Court that the funding scheme was not ‘so irrational as to be invidiously discriminatory.’ Justice Powell argued that on the question of wealth and education, ‘the Equal Protection Clause does not require absolute equality or precisely equal advantages.’ “

Yes…there’s NO FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT TO EDUCATION  in the U.S. Constitution and NO, this 1972 decision has not been overturned. Ergo, the question should be, if there is no constitutionally declared fundamental right to education, how can a state assert standing to procure it or protest how it is provided?  Further, if the cited authority, Elizabeth Bartholet, was genuinely concerned with access to all the benefits of institutionalized education for all students, she would be directing her energy to de-coupling property tax revenue from school funding, thereby creating an equitable economic base to provide said benefits.                            

Elizabeth Bartholet received her JD from Harvard Law School in 1965 so she was fully grown when both Yoder and Rodriguez were decided. I don’t know what her deal is here, but the kindest thing I can say is it seems disingenuous. My historically-based and admittedly more sinister hypothesis is this move to regulate homeschooling is directly linked to the rise of Black families as the fastest-growing demographic cohort of homeschoolers in the nation.

Ms. Bartholet, in conclusion, please feel free to contact me if you think I have misunderstood your intention or my analysis has missed the mark.


Paula Penn-Nabrit

Editor’s note:

Attorney Paula Penn-Nabrit’s rebuttal was made in response to the following article:

Homeschooling: Parent Rights Absolutism vs. Child Rights to Education & Protection

About the author

A 1972 graduate of Columbus School for Girls, Paula Penn-Nabrit completed her undergraduate studies at Wellesley College, Class of 1976, honored as Student Senate President and a Wellesley-Washington Intern in Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm’s office. She married Charles Nabrit in 1976 and earned her law degree from The Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University with a set of 13-month old twins and the Order of the Barrister in 1981. Two years later, after the birth of their 3rd son, she worked on AT&T’s divestiture project until she launched PN&A, Inc., in 1986, a family-run demographic research and organizational development firm, currently 15 years into its 2nd generation.

Paula has presented various papers including A Comparative Analysis of Value Conflicts in Diverse Professions, University of Oxford; The Significance of Intent in Declaring a Violation of IRC 482: Ethical Analysis of U.S. Transfer Tax, University of Florida; and The Impact of Color on International Business and Public Service: The Global Phenomenon of Herrenvolk, University of Siena. She has also authored several books, most notably Morning by Morning: How We Home-Schooled Our African-American Sons to the Ivy League, Random House@2003.

Along with her eldest sons, Paula continues to run PN&A, Inc. as well as The Charles Madison Nabrit Memorial Garden, a small, biodiverse and organic, 5K sq. ft. space sited in the rear of The Church of Christ of the Apostolic Faith, home to a congregation formed 110 years ago by descendants of formerly enslaved Africans in America. Her sons are 5th generation congregants. The USDA Economic Research Service identifies the zip code as a low income/low access urban food desert (Paula says urban food apartheid) so the produce is sold for $1.00 a pound at their onsite Farmer’s Market.

Black Children Continue To Be Pushed Out of American Schools During Pandemic

by: Kathaleena Edward Monds, Ph.D. (originally published October 9, 2020 in Engage by EdChoice)

In May 2020, amid the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racial unrest spurred by the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, a less-reported story was playing out in Michigan, where Judge Mary Ellen Brennan, a White female, sentenced a 15-year Black girl to Oakland County’s Children’s Village, a juvenile detention facility, for failing to complete her compulsory online homework.

In August, police were called to the home of a 12-year Black boy in Colorado; the boy was suspended for five days for playing with a toy Nerf gun during a virtual art class.

These two cases represent high-profile cases of children whose lives have been interrupted due to school disciplinary practices, the policies and practices that each year catapult countless nameless, faceless children into traumatic disciplinary scenarios arising from experiences in America’s compulsory schools that could foreseeably impact them for a lifetime must be stopped.

Visit Engage by EdChoice to read full article.

Are evangelical Christians abandoning public schools?

By: Marilyn Anderson Rhames, executive director, KuriosEd; founder,Teachers Who Pray; and author, The Master Teacher: 12 Spiritual Lessons That Can Transform Schools and Revolutionize Public Education. She is also an Albany State University Center for Educational Opportunity research grant recipient.

An analysis of PDK poll data shows that evangelicals and non-evangelicals are not so far apart in their opinions about religion in their local schools — except when race and ideology get involved.

For the last 60 years, evangelical Christians have had a turbulent relationship with public education. Beginning in the late 20th century, they began seeing their influence on public schools diminish on multiple fronts. For example, after fighting long and hard to keep prayer and Bible readings in American classrooms, they saw the U.S. Supreme Court ban such practices in the early 1960s. This decision remained potent for decades, so much so that when Ronald Reagan ran for president in 1984, he “played to the sensibilities of Evangelical voters when he condemned ‘God’s expulsion’ from public schools” (Laats, 2012). In the late 1960s, much to evangelicals’ chagrin, the U.S. Supreme Court also struck down prohibitions on teaching evolution in science class. And by the 1970s, school districts across the country had adopted comprehensive sex education curricula that promoted condom use as an alternative to abstinence.

Visit Phi Delta Kappan for full article

Not So Fast: K-12 Schools Should Slow Pace Towards Online Learning

By Erica DeCuir, Ph.D.; Associate Professor; Albany State University School of Education

The COVID effect on K-12 schools intensified a troubling shift towards online teaching and learning for both students attending class in person and those who are still distance learning. Online learning is favorable as a form of instructional technology to better engage 21st century learners. In synchronous online instruction, students participate in a livestreamed class lecture and complete assigned tasks in an online learning platform. In asynchronous online instruction, students watch pre-recorded lectures and instructional videos. They complete lessons individually, often at a self-directed pace, and submit assigned tasks to an online learning platform. In both formats, nearly all instructional delivery occurs behind a computer screen. Teachers talk. Students sit, watch, and listen. 

Online learning is trending in all schools post-COVID, whether traditional, virtual, or hybrid. According to a recent U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, 80% of households with school-age children were using online resources for student learning. High-income households reported higher rates of online learning (85.8%) compared to low-income households (65.8%). This disparity is fueling a “digital divide” debate in policy circles, in which low-income children and Black and Hispanic children are more likely to lack access to computer devices or internet services just as more schools shift to online learning. What makes this debate so appealing to policy advocates is the guise of equitable access to high-quality learning through equitable access to technology for online learning. 

But a computer is only a tool for teaching, not an actual teacher. It can provide access to information and global connectivity, but it cannot teach a child to read or write. Certainly, basic skills can be practiced or reinforced online, but learning to read and write well requires a gifted teacher. Popular learning theories indicate that we learn new knowledge by relating it to previous knowledge. And to retain the new knowledge, we must experience it in a real-life context that has meaning to us. Teachers do this by making curriculum relevant to their students and by creating instructional activities that offer real, tangible experiences for students to apply their knowledge in a meaningful way. Learning is a social activity; learning and language are interconnected. 

Online learning formats devalue the socialization of learning, leaving many students struggling to figure it out on their own. A recent study comparing student achievement in online versus traditional charter schools found students “experienced large, negative effects on mathematics and English/language arts achievement that persisted over time and that these effects could not be explained by observed teacher or classroom characteristics.” Middle and high-income families are able to minimize negative effects of online learning through tutors or learning pods that provide supplemental instruction with an actual teacher. For poorer students, the financial burden of hiring a tutor or losing parental income to a participate in a learning pod is too much to bear. In a 2020 study of Zearn, a math application used for online instruction, researchers found that low-income students showed large decreasing gains in math achievement on the software as COVID forced all schools in virtual education. High-income students saw small decreasing gains in math, but for low-income students the decrease was astronomical in many states across the country. Clearly, mere access to computer technology is only one battle in the fight for educational equity. 

Online learning should be viewed as a short-term solution to closed campuses in the wake of the COVID pandemic. It provides the benefit of convenient, accessible instruction regardless of time and location. It can track student performance efficiently, and expand the volume of instructional resources for student support. But, it should not replace actual teaching and learning in a post-COVID classroom context, when most students will return to physical buildings for classroom instruction. Learning occurs through language and real, tangible social connections to curriculum. This is where online learning falls short. 

1 US Census Study

2 Study on Digital Divide

3 Constructivism

4 Charter school Study

Labyrinth of Classroom to Prison Pipeline Leading to Social Injustice

By: Felicia Mayfield, Ed.D.; Department Chairman and Associate Professor, Clark Atlanta University School of Education

                                             Disproportionality in classroom suspensions for students of color ↙

                                 High dropout rate for students for color↙

         Disproportionate rates of incarceration↙

Disproportionate number of felons dismissed from voter rolls

Social injustice is a complex problem. But, we have taken it on. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a diagram can explain the more complicated components of social injustice. There is research to connect each of the constructs at the nexus to the next (Novak, 2019). The diagram depicts the layers of the interconnected systemic path and social processes to disenfranchise males of color. This painful labyrinth has its genesis in the P-12 classroom with disproportionality. That is, the disproportionate referrals of discipline involving males of color. If this is the basis or trigger for the path to social injustice, then let’s examine what is happening at the beginning

What can be done to disrupt the classroom-to-prison pipeline? Enters stage left…The Males of Color in the Teacher Pipeline Initiatives is a means of mitigating these social structures of inertia with males literally and figuratively falling. 

So, if one thing could be done–though we can’t do just one thing… But, if one thing had to be done to interrupt the pattern presented in the Labyrinth of Classroom to Prison Pipeline Leading to Social Injustice, it would be to increase the number of male teachers of color since discipline referrals decrease as much at 50% with a male teacher of color (Wright, 2015)!

Enter stage right–research on the motivating factors to encourage the preparation of male teachers of color. At Clark Atlanta University, we identified four elements that make a difference in teacher preparation of males of color: communication, exposure, resources (especially with testing), and support with student teaching. Clark Atlanta University is an HBCU with a history of preparing educators of color since the 1940s. So, the depth and breadth were present for this study to be meaningful since the percentage of males of color in the pipeline in the School of Education at about 20% were juxtaposed with the national average in this category at less than 2%. The higher percentage for the School of Education makes CAU a statistical outlier—we know that outliers make for an exciting investigation. The Center of Educational Opportunity at Albany State University agreed and funded the implementation of a grant to be intentional in immersing the future male teachers in the four mitigating strategies.

Under a fresh IRB, the CAU Males of Color Initiative offered rich experiences in the four categories. The perceptions of the males of color were measured, revealing promising information worthy of generalization. This research is significant in that it supports the fulcrum to leverage change. Therefore, we conclude with a solution in a picture worth more than a thousand lives:


AACTE (2019) February 2019, AACTE released its report on how to increase and support the number of Black and Hispanic/Latino male candidates in teacher preparation programs.

Department of Education. (2016). The State of Racial Diversity in the Educator Workforce.

Linsey and Hart, 2017 Males of color as teachers  saw a 12% decrease with students of color 

Lindsay, C., & Hart, C. (2017). Exposure to Same-Race Teachers and Student Disciplinary Outcomes for Black Students in North Carolina. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 39(3), 485-510. Retrieved June 19, 2021, from

Johns Hopkins University. (2017, April 5). With just one Black teacher, Black students more likely to graduate [Press Release].

 National Center for Education Statistics. (2020). National Teacher and Principal Survey, Public School Teacher and Private School Teacher Data Files, 2017-18.  U. S. Department of Education.

National Center for Education Statistics. (2020). Race and Ethnicity of Public School Teachers and Their Students NCES 2020-103). US Department of Education.

“youth who are suspended by age 12 are more likely to report justice system involvement at age 18 (Novak, 2019)” Article Information SAGE Journal

 Novak, Abigail. Article first published online: May 14, 2019; Issue published: August 1, 2019

University of Florida Abigail Novak, Department of Sociology and Criminology & Law, 

Volume: 46 issue: 8, page(s): 1165-1180

Wright (2015). Males of Color as teachers decrease discipline referral that lead to suspension and expulsion states that classroom discipline is cut in half with male teachers 

Identifying Strategies from Education-Related Activities to Provide Improved Academic Access for LGBTQIAP Students of Color

By: Sheila Gregory, PhD; Professor, Educational Leadership and Higher Education, Clark Atlanta University

Clark Atlanta University professor, Sheila T. Gregory, Ph.D. is the principal investigator for the grant entitled, Identifying Strategies from Education-Related Activities to Provide Improved Academic Access for LGBTQIAP Students of Color. This 18-month grant, beginning in the summer of 2020 and concluding December 31, 2021, provides numerous services for LGBTQ+ students of color, as well as training for those who work directly with this student population. 

In late fall 2020, nearly 50 of these public school teachers, counselors, social workers, and staff received 2.5 hours of interactive professional development training with topics that covered: 1) basic LGBTQ+ terminology; 2) intersectionality; 3) the status of Black, Latinx and Asian LGBTQ+ youth; 4) student rights, laws and constitutional protections; 5) how to support LGBTQ+ youth of color; 6) cultural competency; 7) empowering inclusive schools, families and communities; and 8) Where to begin? and; additional Q&A. 

In this interactive professional development training session, numerous resources were discussed and shared, including the following that we would like to share:

The remaining initiatives for the grant include a series of Journal Writing Retreats for middle and high school students, Comprehensive Online Course Modules to provide training for school staff and a website for complete access to all completed activities of this grant.

Initial Findings from a Study of Rural Black Homeschooling

By: Cheryl Fields-Smith, Ph.D., Associate Professor; College of Education University of Georgia and Brandon Isome, Doctoral Student; College of Education University of Georgia

Homeschooling among Black families surged five-fold during the Coronavirus pandemic from 3.4% to 16.1% (Eggleston & Fields, 2021). Even prior to the pandemic, trends indicated that Black families increasingly choose homeschooling for their children (Anderson, 2018; Ray, 2015). Research has identified many motivations for Black homeschooling including racial protectionism (Mazama & Musumunu, 2015) and anti-Black racism (Fields-Smith & Wells Kisura, 2013) in the form of discipline disproportionality, barriers to gifted education, and other prejudices. Dumas (2014) characterized these maladies as suffering given the impact on Black children’s self-identity, psychological trauma, and hopelessness, both collectively and individually. 

 However, research on Black homeschooling has focused on urban areas with large, Black, educated populations and many supportive resources.  Less is known about homeschooling among Black families in rural areas, which face numerous challenges including limited job opportunities and digital deserts. Therefore, this pilot study explored the lived experiences of rural Black families through a phenomenological lens of educational research. The study is guided by the following questions:

1. What unique motivations and challenges to homeschool exist among Black parents residing in rural communities?

2. What types of community-based and cultural resources do Black parents living in rural communities rely on for their homeschool practices? 

Conceptual Framework

In this study, homeschooling among Black parents has been conceptualized as a form of resistance to overcoming anti-Black policy and practices within and outside of traditional schools. Further, contemporary Black homeschooling represents a reprioritizing of “homeplace”, which is bell hooks’ concept to capture Black mothers’ actions to empower and edify their children against the oppression of the  Jim Crow Era. Similarly, by re-prioritizing homeplace in current times through homeschooling, Black home educators promote their children’s positive cultural self-identities and enable their children to reach their full potential (Fields-Smith & Wells Kisura, 2013; Fields-Smith, 2020). 


A culturally responsive phenomenological study was designed to document the perspectives and experiences of 12 rural Black homeschool mothers. Of those 12 participants, 11 geographically resided in southern states (e.g., Georgia, North Carolina, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, and Louisiana), and one lived in California. Two of the mothers were single parents and 10 of the mothers were married. All the women have a post-secondary education. 

In individual, online interviews, Black homeschool educators shared their experiences, perceptions, and approaches to rural homeschooling, which varied one from the other. Nine of the 12 mothers participated in one of three Sister Circles (culturally responsive focus group sessions). Initial data analysis consisted of creating matrices to identify initial codes around predetermined themes such as advantages and challenges of homeschooling in rural communities and spirituality. 

Initial Findings

While analysis continues, preliminary results signal tremendous variance in how Black homeschool mothers defined “rural” beyond the typical markers of farming and fields of crops. Rural communities represented in this study consisted of coastal areas, contained residential subdivisions, and existed in relatively close proximity to large cities or far away from them. The pilot study also revealed three forms of isolation expressed by rural Black home educators including geographic isolation, political isolation, and sociocultural isolation. Indeed, none of the participating home educators were able to refer other Black homeschool family participants from their own communities, which will challenge attempts to scale up this study. 


Anderson, M. D. (May 17, 2018). The radical self-reliance of Black homeschooling. The Atlantic

Dumas, M. J. (2014). ‘Losing an arm’: Schooling as a site of black suffering. Race Ethnicity and 

Education, (17)1, 1-29. 

Eggleston, C. & Fields, J. (March 22, 2021). Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey shows significant 

increase in homeschooling rates in Fall 2020. United States Census Bureau.

Fields-Smith, C. (2020). Exploring single Black mothers’ resistance through homeschooling

New York: Palgrave MacMillan. 

Fields-Smith, C. and Wells Kisura, M. (2013). Resisting the Status Quo: The narratives of Black 

homeschoolers in Metro-Atlanta and Metro-DC. The Peabody Journal of Education, (88)3, 265-283.

Mazama, A. and Musumunu, G. (2015). African Americans and Homeschooling. New York: 


Ray, B. (2015). African American homeschool parents’ motivations for homeschooling and their Black 

children’s academic achievement. Journal of School Choice, 9: 71-96.