Friday, April 11, 2008

Homeschooling - More Black Families Are Home Educating

This fabulous report by Village Voice says that because public schools are failing to provide adequately for black children there is now a growing number of parents who are homeschooling.

The stereotypes are changing. Homeschooling has long been thought of as mostly a white Christian endeavor where parents and children sit around the kitchen table. The fact is that the stereotypes have always been utter nonsense. Homeschooling is as diverse as society, and in fact there are many specialized homeschooling organizations to prove it. There are Islamic Homeschool groups, Wiccan Homeschool groups, Black and Latino Homeschool groups, Asian Homeschool groups, and every other imaginable synthesis of society that chooses to home educate. The common thread is that parents all want to do what works best for their children with regard to their education. When public schools fail, especially in urban areas, parents will seek out and have already found suitable alternatives, be it private schooling or homeschooling.

Village Voice reported this:
In the 2006–2007 school year, the city's Department of Education says that 3,654 students in New York were homeschooled. Most are white, but a growing number are African-American. Black parents tend to take their children out of the schools for other than religious reasons, and homeschooling groups say black children taught at home are nearly always boys. Like [P. Aurora ]Robinson, some of New York's parents have concluded that the school system is failing the city's black boys, and have elected to teach them at home as an alternative.
The article goes on to say what an incredibly rich and meaningful curriculum she is providing for her family.
She tries to make the lessons fun and informative. "I have them reading books like The Other Toussaint," she says, referring to a biography of Pierre Toussaint, the Haitian slave who became a free—and rich—man in early-19th-century New York. "I want them to have a more Afrocentric perspective and understand who our writers were and how they come about documenting our history." She also takes the boys with her when she reads to young children at a bookstore, and as she participates in other community activities.

There are cello classes for Tau at the Brooklyn Music School. Deion is interested in video-game design. The boys have taken classes in rock climbing, Japanese sword fighting, architecture, American sign language, film, and acting since they began homeschooling. And last year they completed and screened a film project they worked on with other black homeschooled children from Brooklyn African-American Homeschooler Connections, a support group that Robinson joined.
And as I mentioned before, there are networks of homeschoolers all around. They are tremendous resources for parents who have decided that homeschooling is an option for their children.
Jennifer James is a mother in North Carolina who chose to homeschool her children and also founded the National African-American Homeschoolers Alliance. "African-American homeschooling is definitely growing all over the coutry," she says, estimating that black children make up about 10 percent of the nation's 150,000 homeschooled kids. "I suspect it's because more and more African-American families have finally realized that home education is an option for every American family, regardless of race or socioeconomic status."
Parents are waking up and they are realizing that they DO have options, and that they do not have to put up with less than desirable education choices. They also feel that they cannot wait for more experimental education reforms or for workable voucher programs to emerge.
Parents that the Voice talked to listed various reasons for pulling their kids out of New York's schools—the lack of resources and diverse curriculums, overcrowding, violence, and an emphasis on standardized testing and not individual achievement. Combine those concerns with financial limitations that can make private school an unattainable option and you have more black families teaching their kids at home.....

While the school system continues to grapple with its problems, some black families are planning well ahead of time to keep their kids away from it, preparing to homeschool their children from birth.

On a weekday afternoon, Mocha Moms of Harlem, a support group for stay-at-home mothers, is having a play date in the nursery of Abyssinian Baptist Church. The chapter's co-chairs, Felicia Bradford and Christine Garrison, have already begun plans to homeschool their sons coming this fall. Having both worked in the public-school system, they believe it would be a bad fit for their sons. "I don't want anyone to kill his quest to learn," says Bradford, a mother of two boys ages three and a half years and eight months. "For black boys, expectations are so low. I just want him to be able to function and learn more about his culture."

"Public schools that are good are few and far between," says Garrison. "I remember working in schools and thinking, 'If I ever had a child, I would never send them to public school.' " She met parents who were teaching their own children and says she started wondering if she had the skills to do that herself. She eventually decided that she does, and she and Bradford have recruited other families to join their future school, which will be located in Bradford's home..
It is so wonderful to know that parents are realizing that not only do they have this option, duty, and obligation to educate their children and do it at home, but that they are fully capable of doing it. Parents can even have their own work responsibilities and still homeschool quite successfully.

There are many articles on the web about the rise of black families turning to homeschooling. Here is one by the San Francisco Chronicle. There are also many support groups emerging.

Another Resource is: African American Homeschoolers Network - They say this on their website:
Home schooling in America is growing rapidly among African American families. The population of African American home schooled children is estimated to be around 84,000 - 120,000. Many parents are selecting homeschooling and/or alternative education within the community instead of public schools as the choice for educating their children. Through strong networks with other homeschooling families, and partners within the community, we are able to raise well-rounded, academically and mentally strong children. These children will grow up to positively impact our communities. The public school systems within urban areas are struggling with academic deficiencies and violence. More and more parents are looking for another way. We are taking the destinies of our children into our own hands.
The fact that public education is failing to meet the needs of so many children is precisely why non-public education including homeschooling is necessary to have. I also believe that there needs to be an educational model that is free from government intervention and intrusion as well. Parents can and do have enough brains and ability to see that their children get a good education and they should have many choices available for them to accomplish those goals.

Simply stated, I think we can all agree that every child needs to be educated, and fundamentally it is and always has been up to the parent to decide how that is done.

This brings me to the issue again of withdrawal from public school. Kids should not be kept hostages by public school administrators, and the wishes of parents to withdraw their child from school should be respected and accomplished without hassle or harassment.

Legislators in CT now have the opportunity to end the abuse of authority by school systems by passing legislation crafted by Rep. Arthur O'Neill and passed by the Children's Committee which simply states:
when a parent or guardian of a child provides by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the principal of the school that the child attends, to the superintendent of schools for the school district in which such school is located or the local or regional board of education for such school district, written notice originated by and signed by the parent or guardian of the child stating that the parent or guardian is withdrawing the child from enrollment in a public school and will provide instruction for the child as required pursuant to section 10-184, the principal of the school that the child attends, the superintendent and the local or regional board of education shall accept such notice and shall deem the child withdrawn from enrollment in the public school immediately upon receipt of such notice (this is what must be inserted in CGS 10-220 (The Duties of Boards of Education))
Any other changes to O'Neill's intent and language, or the placement of other regulations or demands by school administrators in other sections of statute regarding duties of parents are unnecessary and very harmful to parents rights and should be avoided.

Legislators need to get past the unfounded suspicions about homeschooling and the mistrust that parents will not do what they say they will do, especially when it comes to Black and Latino parents. As one can see, they want the best for their kids just like anyone else.

Perhaps the school systems are just a bit threatened that parents are finding alternatives and they ARE in fact removing their children from enrollments. That is hurting school funding. That may be why they are trying to keep kids in their failing schools by trying to prevent their leaving.

It all goes to prove that a good education knows no color... the model that delivers good education is what really matters. When you add committed parents, the children can and do succeed.