Homeschooling is a growing phenomenon in the black community. According to the National Home Research Institute, about 220,000 black, school-aged children are homeschooled, compared with an estimated 103,000 in 2003.
Parents—typically mothers—are choosing to homeschool for a variety of reasons, including a desire to impart their religious or moral values, which many white homeschooling families also cite as a reason.
But it isn’t unusual for black homeschooling families to also cite a desire to shield their children from racial or other forms of bullying, from teachers’ low expectations, and from failing schools.
Ama Mazama, an African American studies professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, has written extensively about homeschooling and dubs the rise in black homeschooling families “racial protectionism.”
Black Students Go to the Worst Schools
It’s no secret that the vast majority of black students attend schools that do not adequately educate them. A 2012 Center for American Progress report reveals, “A 10% point increase in students of color at a school correlates with a $75 per pupil decrease in funding,” according to the Christian Science Monitor. Minority schools also get the most inexperienced teachers. Yet, black parents can’t “wait for America to have an epiphany for our kids to do well,” as a black father of gifted children once told me.
Is Homeschooling for You?
As a former homeschooler of my two kids, I understand the desire to homeschool. We lived in the suburbs and expected the public schools to be better than they were. We tried Christian school—one year it was good, the next year it wasn’t.
But here are some questions to ask yourself, before you start ordering homeschool catalogs:
- Why do you want to homeschool? There are all sorts of legitimate reasons to homeschool your children, from wanting them to excel academically to centering your child’s school schedule around, say, her ballet lessons. But it’s best for the whole family if you have a clear idea of your own reasons and goals.
- Who will do the teaching? Will you hire tutors, or enroll your kids in online courses? A lot of people say you can homeschool cheaply, but that wasn’t my experience. Even if you do all the teaching, I advise setting aside a homeschool budget for the year or per semester. You also need to know where the money you’ve budgeted is coming from.
- How old are your children? I advise starting as early as possible. School changes kids, and the longer they’re in school, the harder it will be for them (and you) to adjust to homeschooling. Also, kids who are homeschooled when they’re young seem to benefit the most.
For more about African Americans and homeschooling, go to the National Black Home Educators website.