Homeroom Has New Meaning

African American parents fed up with traditional education turn to homeschooling

More African American parents are homeschooling their kids today than ever before, according to a report by the National Center for Education Statistics, which reveals a 22.6% increase between 1999 and 2003.
African American homeschooled kids totaled 84,000 in 1999, and by 2003 the figure was 103,000. The report also showed that in 2003, overall there were 1,096,000 students being homeschooled, a 29% increase from the estimated 850,000 who were being homeschooled in 1999.

Tola Thompson, director of communications for the Black Alliance for Educational Options, credits the rise to two factors. Homeschooling was illegal in most states until 1983. By 1993, all states formally recognized homeschooling. Today it is more widely accepted, with curriculums being created and made available online. Second, parents have become frustrated with traditional education and feel as though they know what is best for their children.

Jennifer James, director of the National African-American Homeschoolers Alliance, adds, “Parents are finding out at the end of their kids’ school year that their children are not learning anything, which is influencing them to take matters into their own care. Black families are fed up for the most part.”

While James supports homeschooling, she wants parents to make sure they are homeschooling their children for the right reasons. “Homeschooling cannot be a Band-Aid,” she says. “Parents really have to think of homeschooling in different terms. It cannot be a miraculous cure for whatever is ailing their child in school.”

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