Cheryl Fields-Smith, an associate professor in the Mary Frances Early College of Education’s department of educational theory and practice, has seen a dramatic increase in homeschooling inquiries due to COVID-19. But before homeschooling became the norm for students across America during the pandemic, parents were pulling their kids out of school for several reasons, including concerns about racism in school systems.
Though there are numerous reasons why parents pull their kids out of traditional schooling, inadequate race-based curriculum and lack of racial empathy by school administrators are major factors for parents of color. Including racial equity into a child’s curriculum is a common practice for Black and brown home educators. In an interview with Prism, Fields-Smith said this practice often contributes to children’s “positive racial self-identity.”
“Black parents include contributions of Black people in society in their homeschool curriculum, a focus on a variety of arts, and they approach sensitive topics such as slavery or Jim Crow in ways that honor our ancestors, recognize the humanity of enslaved Africans, and a position of strength evidenced by our survival,” said Fields-Smith, who has researched Black homeschooling families for more than 15 years.
Fields-Smith recently received the American Educational Studies Association’s (AESA) Critic’s Choice Book Award for “Exploring Single Black Mothers' Resistance Through Homeschooling.” Additionally, she is the co-founder of Black Family Homeschool Educators and Scholars, a research and education group committed to documenting the lived experiences of Black homeschooling families.
Related links: Department of Educational Theory and Practice