Advocates of school choice policies that enable education funding to follow students instead of going to school systems are typically motivated by stories like that of Denisha Merriweather. The Florida tax-credit scholarship program that her family stumbled upon allowed her to escape a public school system in which she was failing and instead attend a private school where she flourished.
In my Forbes spotlight of Merriweather earlier this year, she said that school choice changed her life, and she has spent most of her adulthood advocating for expanding school choice policies. Today, she works for the non-profit American Federation for Children promoting school choice through the Black Minds Matter initiative that she founded in 2020.
Merriweather joined me on this week’s episode of the LiberatED Podcast to talk about the success of Black Minds Matter, which provides a national directory of over 300 black-owned schools across the country, helping to elevate their work and inspire greater education entrepreneurship.
Merriweather told me that these school founders, like entrepreneurs in all sectors, created their schools to solve a local problem and satisfy unmet demand. “Many of them really started because they saw a need in the community,” she said. “They wanted to change the system of education for African American students. I have a good handful of founders who were previously teachers who served in traditional public schools and they left the public school system to launch their own schools because they wanted to explore how it would feel to have an education setting that was limitless and really help their students achieve academically what they thought was possible.”
Through Black Minds Matter, Merriweather tries to galvanize support for school choice policies, including helping school founders who benefit from these school choice policies to become advocates for educational freedom. “Most of their schools are operable because of school choice programs,” said Merriweather.
She continued: “They wouldn’t be in existence if there hadn’t been a charter school law passed, a private school scholarship program passed. So many of these schools would not have been able to exist if not for education freedom. That’s why it’s important to share their stories and for them to embrace some advocacy in the fight as well, because they feel it when the teachers unions sue programs, or when President Biden puts out new regulations on federal funding for charter schools. These everyday entrepreneurs feel the impact of that when they’re just trying to help students.”
Black education entrepreneurs, along with school choice policies, are expanding learning options and enabling all families to choose the best educational fit for their children.
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