Home-schooling used to be the domain of the very religious or counter-cultural types (read: white) but times are certainly changing. Not only is home-schooling now becoming mainstream as more parents realize that traditional schooling may not be a good fit for their children but home-schooling families are becoming more diverse. Despite the increase in the overall numbers, we are still a small fraction of home-schooling families. I’m a part of home-schooling groups both online and in the community and invariably, I am either the only black mom or one of two. I find it a bit disheartening because the research shows that black children benefit a lot from being home-schooled.
I am aware that some parents are conflicted about home-schooling because it is scary to take your child’s education into your own hands but there a lot of resources and role-models out there for black home-schooling families so it isn’t uncharted territory. Furthermore, the decision about where to educate your child is never a permanent one and it is always possible to reverse course. So for those parents who on the fence, here are four reasons black parents should home-school their children:
1. Public schools are inhospitable to black students
- “I favor integration on buses and in all areas of public accommodation and travel. ‘I am for equality. However, I think integration in our public schools is different. In that setting, you are dealing with one of the most important assets of an individual-the mind. White people view black people as inferior. A large percentage of them have a very low opinion of our race. People with such a low view of the black race cannot be given free rein and put in charge of the intellectual care and development of our boys and girls.’
- ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
The achievement and discipline gap seem to bear out MLK, Jr’s prescient words. After Brown v. Board of Education, we expected that better funding and access would have made vibrant and successful black schools. Instead, our kids are typically in under-performing schools that are still segregated. Although their schools are predominantly black, their teachers typically are not and that is problematic. Studies suggest that white teachers may behave in ways that show their biases which in turn affects the academic achievement of black children. Children tend meet our expectations so when teachers have low expectations of our children, they perform as expected — poorly. It doesn’t have to be that way:
- “We hear so much about the plight of black children and their low test scores. We have not heard that African-American children who are home-schooled are scoring at the 82 percent in reading and 77 percent in math,” Kujufu, the author of 33 books on black children and education, wrote in the Atlanta Voice last week. “This is 30-40 percent above their counterparts being taught in school. There is a 30 percent racial gap in schools, but there is no racial gap in reading if taught in the home and only a 5 percent gap in math.”
“What explains the success of African-American students being taught by their parents?” he asked. “I believe that it’s love and high expectations.” More here….
In addition to being in a schools that do not expect much from them academically, our children are also in punitive environments where instead of being given the support they need, they are shuttled into the criminal justice system. Experts have dubbed this process as the “school-to-prison pipeline” and one clear example of this are “Zero Tolerance” policies which disproportionately affects black boys than any other group.
2. “Good” schools are not the answer
Although private or highly ranked public schools, which tend to be in more white and affluent neighborhoods seem to be the answer, they are not. Black children attending all-white schools may also tend to fall victim to the achievement gap and could suffer from the psychological ramifications of being one of the few black students in an all white school. Black children perform better academically in environments where their ethnicity is positively affirmed through what researchers call “racial socialization” and that doesn’t mean 28 days per year:
- Wang’s study surveyed 630 adolescents from middle class backgrounds to explore how racial discrimination and prejudice in school affects their G.P.A., educational goals, and future aspirations. They found racial pride to be the single most important factor in guarding against racial discrimination, and discovered it had a direct impact on the students’ grades, future goals, and cognitive engagement.
3. Home-schooling prepares our kids for college
Perhaps because of their curiosity and experience as independent learners, the numbers show that home-schooled children are well-prepared for college. Additionally, numerous studies have confirmed that home-schooled children tend to perform better on achievement tests than their peers in brick-and-mortar schools. Also, once they are in college, students who were home-schooled had higher graduation rates compared to those from public schools.
4. Home-schooled kids are happier
The final reason, is perhaps the most important because as parents, our reason for being is to make sure our kids are happy and home-schooled kids are happier. One study cited more sleep as the reason home-schooled kids are happier than kids in public and private schools. I think other reasons for the happiness gap include the current bullying epidemic in schools, the struggle for kids manage their very social worlds with school, and longer school days that interfere with their sleep cycles. Also, home-schooled kids don’t have the artificial pressures of school so they are able to socialize the way they want. As I will discuss in another post, home-schooling takes a fraction of the time that traditional schooling does which leaves a lot of time to socialize, travel, and spending time with the family all of which makes for a happy child.
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