When Voucher Funded Private Schools Fail BIPOC Children

Written by: Jamesina Greene

Private school funding is an extremely controversial topic. Each legislative session sparks loud voices for and against. 

In 2016, here in Maryland, our then-governor, Larry Hogan introduced the Maryland BOOST Scholarship Coalition. It was funded by the Maryland legislature and In spring 2022, received bipartisan support from the General Assembly. 

Yet, statistics show that the voucher Initiative is a huge failure. Many believe that the failed voucher program should be eliminated. Largely due to the shifting of taxpayer’s dollars from public to private schools, and leaving public schools to struggle. 

Facts show that these types of programs overwhelmingly help students already in private schools and for the small minority who move from public schools, their academic performance generally drops.

My then six-year-old son, Tre’ and I experienced that truth firsthand. 

In general, society’s viewpoint regarding education is that private school is a better alternative to the public school system. Here are some of the reasons why:

∙ Private schools provide a more comprehensive education

∙ Private schools provide superb academics, sports, and extracurricular activities

∙ Private schools educate the whole child as it has smaller classrooms, promoting more teacher and child interaction

∙ Private schools guarantee individualized and personalized attention

As a mother, I too wanted the best quality education for my child. I did not want the fact that he was an African-American male in this country to prevent him from receiving that. 

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Tre’ began attending a local private school as a toddler. Each year he continued to advance till the age of 6. By then, he was a 2nd-grade student. It is important to share with you that Tre’ was a normal, active, talkative, interactive, and often entertaining six-year-old. However, as a family, we began to notice that he was becoming withdrawn and sullen. Initially, when asked if he was okay, he always replied “Yes” but we had our doubts. 

While at work one day, a co-worker, whose daughter was in the same class as my son, asked me a question that shocked me to the core. She asked, “Jami, has Tre’ said anything to you about the teacher calling him stupid? 

She further stated that her daughter told her that some of the kids won’t play with Tre’ because some of the brown might get on them. You see, Tre’ was the only African American student in that class and probably one of 10 in the entire school. 

I mentioned this conversation to my family and my mother who sensed something was wrong. She told me that as they were in the car together, Tre’ said, “Mom-Mom, I’m stupid.” She asked him who told him that, and he dropped his head and said, “nobody.”

After immediately reaching out to his teacher, multiple times, I received no response. My father and I went to the school and met with the principal, sharing our concerns including the lack of response from the teacher. 

The principal did not respond to those concerns. Instead, she suggested my son be put on Ritalin because in her words, “He’s very active and disruptive.” I responded that since she was an educator and not a child psychologist, her diagnosis was irrelevant. 

Her refusal to address the issues revealed a lot. I went to retrieve my son from the classroom and as I opened the door, a visual manifestation of the words previously shared with me was revealed. Tre’ was seated a great distance from the other students and not being included in the class activity. 

I asked the teacher why and her response was, “Tre’ is disruptive. After he does his work, he gets up and talks to other students, just doing whatever he wants.” I asked her why I had not been contacted by her about this, and she shrugged her shoulders and said that she was too busy to deal with him.

I sent Tre’ to get his belongings and we left that school never to return.


Jamesina Greene is the founder and executive director of “A Mother’s Cry.” A community-based outreach and advocacy organization whose mission is to support women and mothers affected by social inequalities and injustices. Jamesina says that “A mother’s cry is not just about her tears, it is about her voice. This voice raises awareness and nurtures. It crosses ethnic, social, and geographical barriers.”

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