Black Educational Choice

Assessing the Private and Public Alternatives to Traditional K–12 Public Schools

by Diana T. Slaughter-Defoe, Howard C. Stevenson, Edith G. Arrington, and Deborah J. Johnson, Editors
Foreword by James A. Banks


In November 2008, then President-elect Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama decided to send their two girls to Sidwell Friends School, an elite private institution. Unfortunately, this educational opportunity is far beyond the reach of most African American families. Indeed, of the five million students in non-public K–12 schools in the United States, only 5.8 percent are African American, whereas African Americans compose 14.9 percent of the U.S. school-age population.

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Cover image for Black Educational Choice

November 2011


Pages 289
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Race and Ethnicity/African American Studies
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This important book provides African American parents with the knowledge to diversify K–12 school choices beyond traditional neighborhood public schools in order to optimize the educational chances of their own children, and it will help educators and policymakers to close the black-white academic achievement gap throughout America.

Closing the K–12 achievement gap is critical to the future welfare of African American individuals, families, and communities—and to the future of our nation as a whole. The black-white academic achievement gap—the significant statistical difference in academic performance between African American students and their white peers—is the single greatest impediment to achieving racial equality and social justice in America.

Black Educational Choice provides parents, citizens, educators, and policymakers the critical knowledge they need to leverage the national trend toward increasing and diversifying K–12 school choice beyond traditional neighborhood public schools. Parents can use this information to optimize the success of their own African American children, while policymakers and educators can apply these insights to help close the black-white academic achievement gap throughout America.

The book collects the interdisciplinary, multi-racial, and multi-ethnic perspectives of education experts to address the questions of millions of anxious African American families: "Would sending our children to a private school or a charter school significantly better their chances of closing the achievement gap and becoming successful individuals? And if so, what kinds of challenges would they likely experience in these alternative educational settings?"


  • Contributions from distinguished scholars and their apprentices from education and other diverse fields in the social and behavioral sciences


  • Provides an exceptionally culturally diverse panel of contributing authors
  • Represents a valuable resource to help parents and educators navigate many of the current educational crises including achievement gaps and race-related challenges in schools
  • Presents nuanced critiques of the shortcomings of both traditional and alternative educational school choices for African American students
  • Showcases research by distinguished veteran academics while also introducing several new scholarly voices
  • Fills a gap in the market between existing scholarly anthologies that omit a cultural analysis and the few pragmatic checklists for African American school applicants
Author Info

Diana T. Slaughter-Defoe, PhD, is the Constance E. Clayton Professor in Urban Education in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Her published works include Praeger's Visible Now: Blacks in Private Schools. She has taught at Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and Howard University. In 2007, the University of Chicago awarded Slaughter-Defoe a Lifetime Professional Achievement Citation.

Howard C. Stevenson, PhD, is associate professor of education and former chair of the Applied Psychology and Human Development Division in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. His research interests include the development of theory, measurement, and interventions on racial/ethnic socialization as a mediator of racial stress for youth and families.

Edith G. Arrington, PhD, is a licensed psychologist and a project manager at the OMG Center for Collaborative Learning, Philadelphia, PA. Her research, consultation, and writing interests focus on diversity, race, and development across contexts. Arrington was formerly a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, managing the "Success of African American Students in Independent Schools" Project.

Deborah J. Johnson, PhD, is professor of human development and family studies at Michigan State University. She has coauthored a number of publications on parental socialization and African American child outcomes with Diana Slaughter-Defoe. In 2009 Johnson was coeditor of a special section on "Excavating Culture" and ethnic/racial socialization in Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology.



"Diana T. Slaughter-Defoe and her colleagues have compiled a comprehensive volume that illuminates the path to the best educational choices for African American students. The perspectives and roles of parents, school administrators, teachers, students, and the community on educational choices for African American students are framed well and thoroughly documented. . . . Black Educational Choices is highly recommended to anyone with a vested interest in the academic succes of African American children."Journal of African American History

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