The history of Black education in America is full of challenges. It is based on assimilation in which one has to give up his/her own historical identity. In order for Blacks to flourish within the White mainstream structure, they have had to struggle vigorously to avoid any reflection on their current political situation, let alone on their historical experiences (Woodson, 1990). In addition, there is discrimination in school systems, school counselors, instructional systems, and trained teachers (Foster, 1997). Black schools suffer from lack of funding and from an educational system that is based on alienating social networks. The educational system that most Black students enter is largely based on the social networks of White and/or privileged people who differ enormously from the Black people that they serve (Moses & Cobb, 2002). If there is no or little compatibility between the social networks of Black students and the educational system that they enter, the challenges to successful teaching and learning accumulate exponentially.
The educational system, as it exists, is consciously reluctant to challenge the historical impact of discrimination and continues to create situations that marginalize Black persons. For example, the Black woman in the workplace is faced with a hidden agenda that does not encourage her to compete with White women, especially if her value system is not compatible with Eurocentric ideals. This culture of disenfranchisement translates into a lack of inspiration among Black people to complete high school education or attain their General Education Diploma (GED).
The author Joanne Dowdy explains in her book GED Stories: Black Women and Their Struggle for Social Equity (2003) about the relationship between historical circumstances and GED recipients, in particular the Black woman. This attempt is critical because understanding the historical conditions of Black people in the United States of America helps us as educators and policy makers to provide better programs. Present and future programs are in essence connected with the past experiences. At present, most of the educational agendas for Black people are lumped under the title of minority programs and seemingly without political and historical context. Future programs will also be under the same pretense if we do not commit to understanding all that we need to understand.