Why an HBCU is offering underserved high schoolers a free course

Goal is to advance educational and racial justice for talented students in underserved high schools
By: | September 24, 2020
Howard University professor Bahiyyah Muhammad will teach a free, credit-course in criminal justice to 100 underserved high school students in New York CityHoward University professor Bahiyyah Muhammad will teach a free, credit-course in criminal justice to 100 underserved high school students in New York City

Howard University will offer a free, credit-bearing course in criminal justice to 100 11th and 12th graders in five underserved high schools in New York City.

The goal is to advance educational and racial justice for talented students in underserved high schools and also spread awareness about historically Black colleges and universities, Howard’s president, Wayne A. I. Frederick, said in a statement.

“There’s never been a more important moment for colleges and universities to boldly step up to advance opportunity equity than now,” Frederick said.

The first course, “Introduction to Criminal Justice,” will be provided in partnership with the National Education Equity Lab.


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The nonprofit is piloting similar programs with several other institutions, including Arizona State University, Cornell University, Harvard University, the University of Connecticut and Yale University.

Each institution will offer at least one online, credit-bearing course to students of color and low-income students during the 2020-2021 school year. Teaching assistants from the colleges will handle grading and hold virtual office hours and discussions.

Traditionally, students in Howard’s course—“Introduction to Criminal Justice”—would visit local prisons to experience the criminal justice system first-hand.

This year, professor Bahiyyah Muhammad will move the course online with virtual visits and discussions for the high school students, many of whom are unfamiliar with historically Black colleges and universities.

“Experiential learning is at the heart of all my courses and I am eager to engage with students who I am sure will apply to Howard University at the end to this journey,” Muhammad said.

Next semester, another 100 Title 1 students in the Ed Equity Lab program will enroll in an environmental justice course taught by another member of the Howard faculty.


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