Black families turning to homeschooling at fastest rate, but why?

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Black families turning to homeschooling at fastest rate, but why?

Michael F. Haverluck  |

628x471-415x260The demographics of homeschooling are quickly changing, as African American children are becoming one of the fastest-growing segments of the United States population that is deciding to teach their own … and the reasons might surprise you.

According to the National Home Education Research Institute, there are approximately 220,000 black students currently homeschooling in the U.S. This comprises more than 10 percent of the total homeschool population of 2 million and growing.

Becoming less and less stigmatized as solely a movement of white conservative Christian families seeking to pull their children from the secular attack against religion in the schools, homeschooling is becoming embraced by other demographic groups that also view the public education system as failing their children. Even though blacks make up 16 percent of the public school population nationwide, their homeschool ratio is steadily increasing.

But what are the conditions within school gates that are bringing parents to the realization that the schools are failing their children both academically and socially? One homeschooling parents gives a glimpse of what her child faced on a daily basis in the public schools.

“I just thought maybe I could do a better job myself,” African American homeschooling mom Vanessa Robinson told The Atlantic. “If he hadn’t been bullied I would have really looked into transferring schools, or going back to where I grew up in Kansas.”

Robinson says that the lack of racial diversity in the school system played a factor in her decision to homeschool, which she has worked into her busy weekday schedule as a nurse.

“At least in Kansas it was more racially diverse,” added Robinson, whose husband works as a sous chef in downtown San Diego. “I assumed that’s how the schools would be in San Diego, but I was wrong.”

She believes that removing her son from the public schools doesn’t isolate him from society, but allows him to grow in an environment that is nurturing and gives him the space to develop without damaging influences.

Academically incorrect?

Besides bullying, education experts have found that public schools have also failed the black community academically.

Educational researcher Ama Mazama of the Journal of Black Studies has found that the a major part of black Americans’ shift from public schools to homeschooling has to do less with overt schoolyard racism as it does with subliminal racism at the hands of teachers and other school staff.

“We have all heard that the American education system is not the best and is falling behind in terms of international standards,” Mazama expressed. “But this is compounded for black children, who are treated as though they are not as intelligent and cannot perform as well, and therefore the standards for them should be lower.”

Mazama, who asked black Americans in her study why they chose to turn from the schools and toward homeschooling, found a definite trend that was worth noting. When she began teaching her own children more than a decade ago, Mazama noticed that there was virtually no information available about black homeschoolers.

“Whenever there are mentions of African American homeschoolers, it’s assumed that we homeschool for the same reasons as European-American homeschoolers, but this isn’t really the case,” she said. “Because of the unique circumstances of black people in this country, there is really a new story to be told.”

After  surveying black home educators from coast to coast, Mazama coined the term “racial protectionism” to describe the movement of black children moving away from public school — a term that highlights the inability of the school system to meet the specific needs of its African American students.

“Typically, the curriculum begins African American history with slavery and ends it with the Civil Rights Movement,” Mazama shared. “You have to listen to yourself simply being talked about as a descendent of slaves, which is not empowering. There is more to African history than that.”

Special needs education not so special?

With African American families having a higher rate of single-parent homes, it can be more challenging for them to homeschool.

“It’s not easy,” expressed black homeschooling mom Rhonda McKnight, who homeschools her autistic 8-year-old son while working 45 hours a week as a contractor in Georgia. “It’s extremely difficult to balance everything.”

McKnight says that racial factors weren’t the primary motivator behind her decision to homeschool, but insists that teachers from every racial background come out of teacher training programs with similar mindsets that work against black students.

“I don’t know how racially motivated it [her decision to homeschool} was at the time,” McKnight recollected. “But even black teachers are taught certain things they are not even aware of. Our culture tends towards labeling our boys.”

McKnight found that the very dynamics of public school — one teacher instructing 25 students — just doesn’t work, as she found her son falling far behind his grade level in every subject.

“He doesn’t really get a day off — not right now, because he’s just behind,” informed McKnight, who found out how far behind her son was after she began homeschooling him. “I feel like he doesn’t really have time to relax. I felt like I had totally failed him, and the school had totally failed him, and the only thing I could do was work with him one-on-one to get him caught up.”

A false allegiance to public schools?

With the civil rights history of African Americans entering the public school in 1954 after being banned before the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education, Mazama says many black families balk at pulling their children from public schools because of a misguided sense of loyalty to them.

“For African Americans, there is a sense of betrayal when you leave public schools in particular,” Mazama argued. “Because the struggle to get into those schools was so harsh and so long, there is this sense of loyalty to the public schools. People say, ‘We fought to get into these schools, and now you are just going to leave?’”

Mazama says that this feeling of guilt is unwarranted. She insists that parents are sacrificing their children for an unfounded allegiance to the state, which doesn’t have their children’s best interest at heart — as only they do.

“A lot of people felt that because my family was intimately involved in the effort to integrate schools, that for me to pull my children out of schools was a betrayal of all that work,” Mazama pointed out. “But it really wasn’t. The case had nothing to do with what I, as a parent, decide I want for my child. That decision meant the state can’t decide to give me less than, but I can decide I want more than.”

Better education, better results

After homeschooling her son for just five months, Robinson has seen a remarkable difference in her son — for the better.

“He’s a completely different person,” asserts Robinson, who moves much more quickly through the curriculum than the public schools — and even has time to dig deeper into the subjects that her son loves. “Right now, Marvell says he wants to work for NASA, so we’re really focusing on getting in depth into science and space.”

Robinson is grateful that her son is now learning in an environment that encourages him how to think — not what to think.

“I just want my son to be a free thinker and to question everything,” Robinson concluded. “I wish that when I was growing up, I could have done that.”

12 Comments on “Black families turning to homeschooling at fastest rate, but why?”

  1. Amen I pray people read this and truly wake up, and leave these public schools, and they lose all their students, and the christian families give these children from God a God fearing home to learn, and enjoy their family growing, without peer pressure, or distractions. That’s a blessing from the Lord, we should keep in God’s family in Christ.

  2. I really appreciate this article because as I have said before, I am one of these black moms who home educate. I’m an anomaly is this nation as a married, stay at home mother of six, who is supported by my husband as a home educator. We are in our 4th year of hs, and I can say that in all honesty, I didn’t really mentally consider my decision to homeschool based on racial motivation. I will say that I was pretty sure that my son would have been labeled ADHD when I know that he is not. My son struggled to read at first and has since become an avid reader, like his dad. Reading on the 6th grade level in ‘third grade’. He is also a gifted cellist and only started playing this past summer. Homeschool is completely different from any other type of schooling because what we do as parents is done for love. There are gifted teachers in public school but few that wholeheartedly love their pupils and even fewer that can claim love greater than the child’s parent. Our children are just as smart as any other child, why we excel has everything to do with the Author of Love, Jesus Christ.

  3. I’d like to be able to homeschool my kids and work to help support them. I am a new mom and at the rate that these kids are shooting up schools and being bullied, I certainly hope that I can make it work for my family. They only teach the kids enough so that the schools pass the standardized tests anyway.

  4. I used to work in public schools and there were some teachers who I felt needed to find another job. Also children can do some atrocious and unimaginable things if they know that no one is watching. And children are not being watched enough in public schools. You may teach your child right but what if one of the kids in your child’s class have been exposed to something inappropriate for their age, then that child will teach your child, now your child knows something you didn’t think he or she would learn about until sex ed years. Some teachers can be bullies to kids, which is an easy thing to do if you are a punk. Then at three o’clock your child is thrown outside the door. And the parents are just sitting in the car chilling, playing on their phone when they need to be more alert. I am not bashing the public school completely but it makes me worry a lot. I don’t trust the school, if I were to send my future child to a public school, little leagues or any other extra curricular activities, I would have to be there with them. I will not say where I work, but I do work for an industry that allows me to learn what schools have been covering up.

  5. Hello Pastor Graige and Ex Ministries. Thank you for this much needed topic. My daughter this month took my granddaughter out of public school into homeschooling and charter school. Praise God, my granddaughter was raise under Ex ministries Godly influences through the word of God being taught in truth your powerful DVDs. My granddaughter is 11 years old. I personally myself from taught her for preschool at the age of 3 and 4 years old. She had been saying she wanted to do homework after a little boy I was watching had to do his homework. So I knew then she had a hunger and a drive to learn. I went and bought age appropriate work for her and she took off from there. Now after taking her out public and being tested at a charter she’s only 11 but works at the 9th grade level.

    All this to say, beside being small for her age and kids curious and asking her why. They also could not relate to her because she didn’t play around when it came to learning in public school. Her peers couldn’t relate to her as well because she didn’t know the latest dance moves nor the latest rap and secular songs the peers her age was emulating during recess time. They felt out of place around her and she them. Recess was playing tether ball for her the normal play things kids do. So its working for her because my daughter keeps her in other activities as well. Again thanks for this great topic.

  6. I had a pleasure reading this article. I have been wanting to homeschool my children and have been told not to for years. I’m getting my life in order so I can get my children in order. I am totally for homeschooling and agree with the outstanding results. Thank you!!

  7. I was a teacher in the public school system for over ten years and this article beautifully summed up what I witnessed and experienced. I can relate to and agree with everything spoken in this text. It’s great to know that my family and I are not alone.

  8. The picture of the dad teaching his kids is priceless, and what they don’t want. Thanks for the forum.

  9. This is an amazing article and one that I can relate to. Our family decided to homeschool a few years ago and it has been the best decision for our children that we could have made. We are an active duty military family, so the schools that our children attended were always provided with what was needed to succeed in the classroom. So substandard conditions was not the problem, but what was clear to us was that our children were not being challenged academically and discouraged from certain things because of their race. Coming into high school my son’s were being told look at the military after high school, or a junior college, both of which are good paths to choose, but why not encourage them to excel and reach for greater. It truly was the little things, the off handed comments and the lack of celebration when my children achieved outstanding goals. If I could turn back the hands of time, I would have never allowed them to attend public school and would have home-schooled them from the beginning. Homeschooling offers so much more than great education, it affords our family to opportunity to nurture and develop our children in a loving environment, that pushes them toward excellence.

  10. Interesting article. We are a homeschooling family. We are Christian, and we are black. We have never viewed ourselves as a black homeschooling family. We do view ourselves as a Christian homeschooling family. Our reasons for homeschooling were many, but the main one was to anchor our children in the foundation of Christ without the indoctrination of the world and it’s views. This is not to say that you cannot anchor your children in Christ while they attend a public school, but this is the direction the Lord led us. Pray for your children wherever they are, because satan is no respecter of age, gender, or race. He desires to destroy them, but God has made a way of escape. That way is Christ Jesus!
    Proverbs 22:6

    1. Interesting that you would use the word INDOCTRINATION while failing to see that your actions are no different. Education is about the child finding him/herself, defining their interests, developing morals, and engaging them in preparation for DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY. The way is COMMON SENSE!

      1. Their belief set rests in what God’s believes, and the “way” of Christ Jesus. In this democratic society, they have the right to teach their kids this. Some people want their kids to know the correct answer. An answer that is
        close to the right answer, is still wrong. That’s just common sense.

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