As we celebrate Black History Month, National School Choice Week is proud to offer your organization a carefully crafted toolkit to help you mark this important month. This toolkit sheds light on valuable insights and effective strategies for engaging with Black families about school choice. By analyzing data and adopting appropriate messaging, you can establish better connections with Black parents and empower them to make informed decisions about their child’s education. Together, let us uplift Black families and honor Black History Month by empowering them to choose their own educational path.
What Does the Data Say?
Increased Parental Involvement Amid Remote Learning
High Support for School Choice Policies
Limited Opposition to School Choice Policies
Accessibility of School Choice Policies
Putting it into Context
The History of Freedom Schools
In the 1960s, during the Civil Rights Movement Mississippi Freedom Schools became the symbol of Black education in terms of school choice. These schools offered an alternative and empowering educational experience to Black students who were subject to education segregation.
The curriculum of Freedom Schools extended beyond traditional subjects and emphasized Black history, culture, and civic engagement. In Mississippi, Black students had the opportunity to explore their creative talents, develop political ideas, and expand their knowledge. They aimed to instill a sense of pride and activism in the students.
Inspired by the success and impact of the Mississippi Freedom Schools, similar initiatives sprang up in other parts of the country. Activists and community organizers saw the potential of these schools as a tool for empowerment and community mobilization. Freedom Schools began to appear in various states, particularly in areas where racial segregation and discrimination persisted.
The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program
Fast forward to the 1990s, when the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program gained momentum. Established in 1990, this initiative introduced school vouchers, making it possible for low-income families, predominantly Black families, to use public funds for private school tuition.
Through the use of school vouchers, this initiative ensured that families who may have otherwise struggled to afford private school tuition could now send their children to non-public schools that may better fit their family’s needs. Today, the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program is one of the 25 voucher programs available across the United States, providing countless families with the opportunity to find the best educational fit for their child.
For many Black families, school choice represents an opportunity to have a say in their children’s education. By having the option to choose between public, private, charter, magnet, homeschool, or microschool, parents can seek an environment that aligns with their educational priorities for their children. The notion of empowerment through choice echoes the historical legacy of Freedom Schools and the creation of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, where education serves as a means of empowerment and liberation.
Unveiling the Messages that Resonate with Black Families
Crafting messages that resonate with Black families is crucial for engaging them in conversations about school choice. Two key themes have been found to be effective in this regard – Liberation and Empowerment. The Liberation theme emphasizes the need to break free from traditional constraints, while Empowerment recognizes Black families’ desire to shape their children’s education actively. By taking a holistic approach that incorporates these themes, the power of choice can become a force that opens doors to a world where every child can thrive. To develop messaging that resonates with Black families, we recommend using the following recommendations as inspiration or adapting them to better suit your audience.
Liberation: Breaking Chains in Education
Liberation is crucial for Black parents in education. It means breaking free from traditional constraints and embracing autonomy in shaping their children’s learning journeys.
“Enhance your child’s education by choosing a learning environment that resonates with their strengths and talents. Unlock the best for your child.”
“Imagine a world where education knows no bounds—a world where your child’s potential is not confined by traditional norms. Embrace the liberation of choice, where alternative educational paths break the chains of convention. Your child deserves an education as unique as their dreams, and the power to choose opens doors to a limitless future.”
Empowerment: Fostering Strength and Independence
Black families want to actively shape their children’s education and make informed decisions. Empowering narratives position parents as advocates and architects of their children’s academic destinies.
“You know your child best. School choice allows families to find the best educational fit for their children, providing a fulfilling and personalized learning journey.”
“You are the architect of your child’s academic destiny. Empower yourself with the tools to make informed decisions about their education. Take charge, stand as a strong advocate, and mold a learning environment that reflects your values. The power to choose is the key to unlocking your child’s full potential.”
“Education is not one-size-fits-all; it’s a tailored journey for each unique mind. Explore diverse opportunities that nurture your child’s growth, skills, and excellence. From specialized programs to innovative approaches, the power to choose means unlocking doors to a world where your child thrives and realizes their fullest potential.”
Use this text template for your newsletter:
Happy Black History Month! [Your organization’s name] is delighted to highlight and celebrate the significant strides being made by Black families in the realm of education through school choice. Our organization advocates for policies that promote school choice for all families, regardless of their background. We aim to empower the Black families during Black History Month by promoting school choice and amplifying their voices through recent data:
- Most Black parents report feeling more engaged in their children’s education amid COVID-19 remote learning. Source: EdChoice, “Black Parents and K-12 Education” National Report
- Educational Savings Accounts (ESAs) are met with 78% approval from Black parents, as are school vouchers (79%), charter schools (74%), and open enrollment (78%) when provided with comprehensive descriptions. Source: EdChoice, “Black Parents and K-12 Education” National Report
- There is little opposition among Black parents to school choice policies when they are presented with a thorough and detailed account of the implications. Source: EdChoice, “Black Parents and K-12 Education” National Report
- Black parents see charter schools and open enrollment as more accessible school choice options, while only about half view Educational Savings Accounts (ESAs) and school vouchers as accessible. Source: Source: National Coalition for Public School Options, “New Study Shows African American Families Overwhelmingly Want A Choice in Their Children’s Public School, Regardless of Geographic Boundaries”
To find hundreds of school choice resources, visit www.schoolchoiceweek.com.
Explore further insights and resources on school choice within the Black community by checking out the following individuals, organizations, and helpful links:
National School Choice Week Parent Ambassador, Homeschool Mom and Advocate
Founder of Homeschool Yo Kids
Executive Director of Charleston Rise
Executive Director of Parents Challenge
Executive Director of Black Student Fund
Founder of PAEO (Parents Alliance for Education Options)