Patricia Kimathi, Fielding's School of Educational Leadership & Change
This mixed method research investigated the question: What elements do African American charter school parents in a Southern California community identify as important in their children’s charter schools? Twenty-three African American families who had enrolled their children in charter schools in a Southern California community responded to a survey. Five respondents were randomly selected for semi-structured interviews.
The history of African American parents and children in this country has been one of limited access and choice. Early African American educators proposed education as the means by which African Americans could improve their lives and pursue the American dream (Dubois, 1989; Washington, 1901; Woodson, 1933). After centuries of being in traditional public schools the majority of African American children are not being successfully educated (Johnson, 2002; Haycock, 2009). As a result of widespread dissatisfaction with public schools, an increasing number of African American parents are choosing charter schools as an alternative to traditional public schools (Zimmer et al., 2003).
The African American families in this study shared the following six elements that influenced their decision to enroll their children in charter schools: academic achievement/curriculum, parental engagement, quality of teaching, class/school size, safety/ security, and extra activities. Implications from this research and future research are included. Key Words: African American parent, charter schools, parent engagement, traditional public schools.