In her spare time during law school, Haley Taylor Schlitz and her mother published a book on homeschooling for Black children. The source of their expertise? Their own experience.
Having graduated from high school at 13 and college at 16, and then having been accepted to all nine law schools she applied to, Schlitz chose SMU Dedman School of Law in Dallas. She completed her first year when she was 17 and is now a 2L.
Educating kids differently
The Homeschool Alternative: Incorporating a Homeschool Mindset for the Benefit of Black Children in America was a collaboration between Schlitz and her mother, Myiesha Taylor, a physician.
“My mom and I decided to write the book because of our family’s experience with the education system in our nation,” said Schlitz. “We felt compelled to share our story and, more importantly, to share information on how families can homeschool or adopt a homeschool mindset When we started our path to homeschooling, there was no real clear resource to help families, especially Black families, navigate the transition from structured school to homeschooling.”
Schlitz is a homeschooling advocate for Black children in particular. “I believe there’s overwhelming evidence that our schools, public and private, were never designed to truly educate the diverse student population that’s now the overwhelming majority in our schools,” she stated.
“There are constant news stories on the release of new studies that show how Black boys and girls are clearly treated negatively by the adults who run our schools. It’s important that we understand the realities Black boys and girls face in our schools and embrace a path of empowerment for educating our children.
“We simply can’t continue to wait until the system changes itself,” asserted Schlitz. “If we do that, we’ll miss an entire generation of problem solvers who could bring positive change to our world.”
The book and her own personal journey can serve to motivate others, she added. “I can help demonstrate that we have more options for our youth,” she stated. “Parents and students can achieve academic success at a higher rate if we focus on and value it.
“I think LeBron James’s new school in Ohio actually demonstrates what can happen when a community places value on academic success,” she added. “I hope the book we wrote, and my own personal education journey, can help demonstrate that we have more options for our youth besides stage and stadium dreams.”
A mindset for law school
Schlitz has taken what she calls the homeschooling mindset with her to law school. “I share with people all the time that the best thing about homeschooling is that it forced me to develop strong time-management skills,” she explained. “When you homeschool, it’s similar to transitioning to undergraduate from high school. You go from this very structured environment where every minute of your day is planned, scheduled, and accounted for to an environment where it’s about you managing your time and schedule.”
The key to law school has been learning how to follow her own personal syllabus and to hold herself accountable, stated Schlitz. “I also learned how I best receive information and master a subject area,” she noted. “I would never have had the opportunity to learn this had I stayed on the traditional educational path.”
Trust in yourself, Schlitz advised, which is advice she has taken herself. “I can’t share with you how many times my family and I heard the whispers that homeschooling was going to be a disaster,” she recalled. “You hear that enough, and it does make you think about what you’re doing.
“But it also motivated me to be the best I could be,” contended Schlitz. “I find that having developed this mindset is helpful in taking on law school.”
Former editor Dayna Maeder also contributed to this article.