A Call from Black and Brown Mothers for True Family Engagement

Bio: We are mothers of school-aged children and a collective group of education scholars — clinical, assistant, and associate professors; research associates, and doctoral students.

Collectively Authored by: Carrie Sampson, Lok-Sze Wong, Alexandria Estrella, Dawn M Demps, & Claudia Cervantes-Soon

We are educators and researchers in one of the top-ranked education colleges in the U.S. Our scholarship focuses largely on improving educational equity. And our lived experiences as women of color and mothers with young children reflect the harsh realities of the social injustices that occur in schools and beyond.

Over the last few weeks, we struggled to write this collective piece because we are exhausted. We are working beyond our capacity to attend to our full-time jobs and our families’ needs, including the loss of loved ones to COVID-19. And we are feeling a mix of emotions toward both our children’s schools and the broader education system. We have felt anger, disappointment, fear, and hope. We have pushed through our exhaustion and emotions because we want to ensure that the voices of Black and Brown mothers and othermothers are centered in the conversations that will move us forward as we — educators, families, communities — navigate our children’s learning through this pandemic and beyond.

Our children attend traditional and charter schools in urban and suburban neighborhoods across the Phoenix metropolitan area. Arizona schools shut their doors eight weeks ago. Educators quickly developed plans for offering daily meals, technology, and online instruction that could happen in homes rather than classrooms. We applaud these efforts. And still, something major was missing. Aside from asking families if they have access to wi-fi and computers, no one from our children’s schools asked how we, as families, are managing our children’s learning at home. Nor have they asked what our most pressing concerns are during this pandemic, and then reflect on what that means for the content our kids need to learn right now.

In this major crisis, schools have literally moved into our living rooms, kitchens, and cars. And yet, we believe that many schools throughout the U.S. have missed this prime opportunity to meaningfully engage families. This is not surprising. Along with our personal experiences, plenty of research, including that recently published by Ann Ishimaru, reminds us that most schools…

Carrie Sampson
A Call from Black and Brown Mothers for True Family Engagement

Carrie is a mother-scholar whose research focuses on educational equity, policy, and leadership.