Monthly Archives: February 2015

The Rise of Homeschooling for African Americans

Homeschooling among African Americans is currently on the rise, with 220,000 African American children currently receiving their education this way.

Many of the parents cite racism, poor treatment, and low expectations within the public school system as reasons for opting out, rather that the religious reasons that many white Americans use.  Also, a Euro-centric history lens bothered a number of African American parents.  Other parents wanted the chance to expose their children to positive role models who looked like them, especially males. According to the Department of Education, less than two percent of current classroom teachers nationwide are African American adult males.

The long-standing economic barriers (especially having an educated, stay-at-home parent) to homeschooling are lifting, which is making it a viable option for middle class of every race.  Flexible work schedules for parents, subsidized nutrition and team sport options for homeschoolers from the local public schools, and materials-sharing all contribute to this ease.  However, not everyone sees these options as reason enough to exit the school system.

“For African Americans there is a sense of betrayal when you leave public schools in particular,” Professor Ama Mazama said. “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?’”

While opting out of government institutions is a treasured right, the social norming that takes place in schools–public or otherwise–seems impossible to successfully replicate.  Not only are social skills learned by necessity: handling conflict, peer communication, disappointment, healthy competition, etc., but students learn to adapt to real world expectations for performance in the job market, in community organizations, and in relationships of all kinds.  And even with traditional schooling, helicopter parenting undoes these gains when the child is isolated from consequences, which is an outcome that is antithetical to the real world.  Spending time developing a child without negativity is a contradictory statement; negative consequences are what develop people.

Therefore, homeschooling for any race seems like something that should be considered a last resort, and only for kids who have highly prohibitive learning disabilities.  Common educational content is part of the social contract that holds our shared culture together.  While one could claim that our current state of higher education does not adequately meet the needs of our economy, grade school standards are an obligation of living in a civilized society.