Should Black Parents Consider Homeschooling?

April 19, 2011  |  

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.

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