More Black Families Opt for Homeschooling

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According to the National Home Education Research Institute, around 220,000 African-American children are currently being homeschooled, making up 10% of the entire population of homeschooled children.

African-Americans are quickly becoming one of the fastest-rising demographics in the homeschool world.  While they make up 10% of the homeschool population, they also account for 16% of public school children, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

While white families are more likely to say they homeschool their children due to religious or moral disagreements with the public school system, black families are more likely to cite a dissatisfaction with public school system concerning both academic expectations and how their children, and particularly boys, are treated, writes Jessica Huseman for The Atlantic.

According to the mother of Marvell Robinson, he was the only black child in his kindergarten and first-grade classes and one of only a handful of black students in his entire elementary school.  Due to his Asperger syndrome, a form of autism that makes social interaction difficult, his mother felt he was being taunted by his classmates and that the school was not doing enough to stop it.  “I just thought maybe I could do a better job myself,” she said:

“They said, ‘kids will be kids,’ and the only solution was for Marvell to be monitored—like he had done something wrong,” Robinson said. “In the end, I don’t think that anyone should have to monitor my kid” because of other kids’ behavior.

Robinson said that while her main objective was to offer her son more individualized attention than the school system could provide, racial bullying did play a large part in her decision.  “If he hadn’t been bullied I would have really looked into transferring schools, or going back to where I grew up in Kansas,” she said. “At least in Kansas it was more racially diverse. I assumed that’s how the schools would be in San Diego, but I was wrong.”

A 2012 study conducted by Marie-Josée Cérol, referred to professionally as Ama Mazama, surveyed black homeschool families around the world, finding that most of the families chose to educate their children in this way at least in part in an effort to avoid school-related racism.  Mazama referred to this as “racial protectionism,” saying it was a response of the parent to do something about a situation the school system was unable to.

“We have all heard that the American education system is not the best and is falling behind in terms of international standards,” she said. “But this is compounded for black children, who are treated as though they are not as intelligent and cannot perform as well, and therefore the standards for them should be lower.”

In addition, she said most schools have a “Euro-centric” view of world-history curriculum, causing black students to not have an opportunity to learn about their own culture.

While in the past, homeschool families were viewed as wealthy and better educated due to their economic ability to have one parent stay home all day, Mazama said that is changing as many of those barriers are being lifted.  Subsidies are available to ensure homeschool children have access to school nutrition, and public programs allow the children to participate in extra-curricular activities and sports outside the home.