All Articles Tagged "homeschooling"
When Bullies Hurt More Than Your Feelings: Are Parents Making Today’s Kids Too Sensitive To Handle Conflict?
One of the things I enjoy most about Facebook is that through a simple “Accept Friend Request” you can see exactly who’s still involved in childish drama that was once entertaining as a teen, but is now plain pathetic. On a positive note, you can also see slivers of success from not just the over-achievers, but the underdogs who are having the last laugh. But what also becomes apparent in my adventures in social networking is the need for people to obsess over their glory days in the high school hallways, because clearly their adult lives are paling in comparison. I’m not talking about joining a group to be updated about the ten-year reunion or occasional passing memory about a beloved teacher who passed away. I’m talking about the folks who are trapped in their prom king/queen reign while the rest of us are living real life.
I bring this all up to say that high school was definitely not chock full of my fondest memories. In fact, I don’t even remember much of it. While I wasn’t exactly bullied, there was a clear defining line between the “cool” kids and everyone else. I had my moments, but I definitely didn’t make the cut for senior superlatives. I wasn’t drowning in ridicule but I wasn’t sunbathing on the shores of the socially elite. With a few close friends and some funny memories, I happily spent my school career staying afloat somewhere in the middle.
Today’s teens are definitely growing up in a different element. I have my fair share of awkward memories of classmates rubbing my five-head like a genie lamp and joking about premiering movies on my high hairline. There was a guy or two who publicly rejected my silent love letter advances. But even on my worst days, I knew that when that bell rang at 3:00 p.m., I could return to a place where people loved me and not have to deal with any of that nonsense for at least 18 hours. Today, Facebook, Twitter and other social networks are giving teens their own digital spotlight and making it difficult for them to at least just blend in somewhere in the middle. Either you’re the most popular person at school with 2000 followers to prove it or there are message boards dedicated solely to unite people who hate you for the most random reason. Social networking at its worst is giving cruel kids more opportunities to bully even after the last bell rings.
Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University. The CDC reports that suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year. Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost seven percent have attempted it. As a result, more and more parents are opting to home school their children or allowing them to enroll in cyber school, but I question if this is helping or hurting the problem. Whether you’re dealing with a Twitter thug or a good old-fashioned jock stuffing a student into a locker, three things are usually true:
- Bullies thrive in numbers. You may have a ringleader, but they usually crumble if they don’t have a crew to back them up.
- Bullies thrive on weakness and intimidation. Your fear is their motivation.
- The best defense is a good offense. Bullies don’t have nearly as much influence on someone dealing with someone who is self-assured and has a strong support system in the first place.
If other inner-city school districts are anything like the one I witness several days out of the week, it’s understandable why many parents are opting out of the education system completely for an opportunity to educate their children a variety of curriculum in the safety of their own home. More students are in the hallways than in the classroom nowadays (and that’s if they even bother coming to school at all). Political power plays leave educators and supporting staff who are actually invested in students unmotivated, powerless and in the worst case, jobless. Confusion and competition at the top of the education chain leads to a chaotic learning environment where students often fall at the losing end.
In my own childhood I had the chance to be both a student of a catholic school for 10 years (grades Pre-K to eight) and a high school student at a small magnet school in Philadelphia whose curriculum focused on college preparation and world relations. I often take for granted the advantage that having a solid, well-rounded basic education gave me. As a parent, you’d like to believe that everyday you’re sending your child to a place where for seven to eight hours a day they’re gaining the skills necessary to be critical thinkers and competitive players in the real world. Unfortunately, with all of the stories of sexual assault and molestation, violence and bullying, I often wonder how much learning is actually being achieved. We all know that children thrive on routine and structure, so I’m also troubled by the idea that many children who are already coming from unstable family situations can no longer find security and safety in the “typical school day.”
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Whether folks want to admit or not, our public school system is in terrible trouble, and it’s our kids who are caught in the crosshairs. We’ve all heard the reports and mews articles—only 47 percent of black males graduate from high school on time (that number is only half of that if you happen to live in Philadelphia or New York City). Schools everywhere are equipping themselves with metal detectors and armed guards to counteract the growing issue of bullying and violence. Plus, drastic budget cuts in education has meant that many school districts have had to choose between buying textbooks or closing individual schools.
Despite the many options that have been explored to right the wrongs of our education system, none of them have provided parents, teachers and administrators with a magic solution. With so much uncertainty, isn’t it about time that parents, particularly black parents, of school aged children consider other options, like bucking the system and homeschooling their children?
When many folks think of homeschooling, what ultimately comes to mind are either images of affluent couples that can afford to stay home and teach, or crazy religious fanatics preparing their brood for the coming of the raptures. However, more middle-class and well-adjusted black parents are exploring the homeschooling option.
According to the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), minorities account for about 15 percent of the nearly two million homeschooled students in the country. Also, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, there is an estimated 220,000 black children being homeschooled, which makes them about 10 percent of the estimated 15 percent of minority children who are homeschooled.
Black parents who have gone the homeschooling route have done so mostly due to a desire to pull their kids out of a failing school system, which seems to be failing black children at an even higher rate than it does other children. The NHERI study also indicates that many black parents who home-school focus on providing their children with an education immersed in Afrocentric values, something that is often neglected by traditional schools.
Of course, financial restraints may make homeschooling an unattainable dream for many black families; however, there are a number of homeschooling associations to help parents find support for their alternative education needs. Earlier this year, the Chicago Tribune profiled the Indigo Nation Homeschooler’s Association, a co-opt education collective. The 12 families who participate in the collective work together to develop and teach a curriculum that is centered on African-American history, culture and language.
But much like other alternatives to the public education system, homeschooling is not the answer for all. As many public school advocates and educators will tell you, good parents who are actually concerned about their children’s education are the families that should stick around and fight for an improved public school system. However, the number one obligation any parent has is to their children and their children’s education. As such, all alternatives to ensure that your children receive a good education should be on the table. Ultimately, black parents should not feel that they should have to sacrifice their child’s future in the hopes that one day, some day, the public school system will be fixed.
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.
(Chicago Sun Times) — As many as 50,000 home-schooled children would have to be registered with the state for the first time under newly proposed legislation that is drawing fire from parents who teach their children themselves and from social conservatives. State Sen. Edward Maloney (D-Chicago) said he introduced legislation requiring registration after meeting an acquaintance who home-schooled and becoming concerned about no state oversight. “There are virtually no rules in Illinois, except they’re asked to teach a curriculum of math, English, science and social studies. There’s no periodic testing, no qualifications, no accounting at all,” Maloney said.
But Ralph Rivera, lobbyist for the Illinois Family Institute and a home-schooling parent himself, argued the current law should be left in place and questioned Maloney’s motivation in pushing his legislation. “I think the bottom line is why do this? What is the indication that home-schoolers aren’t doing what they set out to do, which is to teach their children? There is none,” Rivera said.
(Network Journal) — Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith did it. And now it seems more African-Americans are doing it, too…home schooling their kids, that is. According to the National Home Education Research Institute, minorities account for about 15 percent of the nearly 2 million home-schooled students in the country. And according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, home schooling increased 77 percent from 1999 to 2007. African-Americans are turning to home schooling for various reasons, say experts, including high drop out rates for blacks, the lack of black history education being taught in schools, as well as the lack of black male teachers as role models for male students.
(Chicago Tribune) — The children sat placidly in their chairs, elbows on the table, eyes forward. One munched on a clementine. A group of younger children, ages 3 to 5, colored quietly in the back. ”We lost a woman who was very important to us,” announced Afrika Porter-Ollarvia. “Dr. Margaret Burroughs.” What do the students know, she asked, about Burroughs? Several hands shot up, and answers popped out: “She was an artist!” “Her poems were famous!” Welcome to the classroom of the Indigo Nation Homeschooler’s Association, where the curriculum is centered on African-American history, culture and language. The 12 families who participate in the co-op meet once a week at the Grande Prairie Library in Hazel Crest, where they learn about the ancient art of African storytelling, lace their lessons with words in Swahili and talk about important role models in their culture, such as Burroughs, the co-founder of Chicago’s DuSable Museum who died in November. “Families feel like the American education system does not teach African-American children,” said Porter-Ollarvia, a Country Club Hills mom of three. “A lot of times in textbooks, you’ll see ‘package run, package go,’ Jane and Jack and Jill. But you won’t see African-American names like Zarifah and Muhammad. And a lot of times our children need to see their names and have a point of reference and see themselves in the books.”