Once thought of as a practice traditionally dominated by White Christian families in the rural South, homeschooling as an alternative to urban public school education is an increasing phenomenon among a number of Black families, according to a recent BBC report.
Citing a range of factors, from school violence to curricula that places more emphasis on test results than engaging lesson plans, some Black parents are reportedly choosing to educate their children themselves.
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It’s an attitude that seems in stark contrast to efforts in previous eras where there was a huge push toward school desegregation. Now some parents are disillusioned with the promise of public schools in urban areas.
Though only a rough estimate, there are reportedly about 2 million, or 4 percent, of American children that are home schooled, according to the National Home Education Research Institute. In some states, families do not have to register with the authorities that their child is being home schooled.
Still, Joyce Burges, co-founder of National Black Home Educators, says the practice is growing “exponentially” in the African-American community.
Burges, who home schooled all five of her children, aged 16 to 35, told the BBC:
The failings of public schools have caused all of us, whether we are white or black, to come up with creative ideas about how we can educate children. That explains the rise of the co-ops and African Americans seeing that this is not just a white thing any more.
For others, such as Monica Utsey, who runs a home schooling co-operative for African-American children in Washington, D.C., the move to home schooling is a way for some Black parents to instill certain values, provide a more nurturing environment, and teach more in-depth lessons on Black history.
Utsey, who explained that she didn’t want her kids “to believe that their history begins with slavery,” added, “African-American mothers, especially those who have boys, have a lot of trouble in the school system. The way the classroom is designed is more conducive for girls.”
Others even say home schooling is a way to protect their children from public school educators who might otherwise be quick to prescribe drugs like Ritalin or Adderall for children who might exhibit some behavioral problems.
Whatever the reason, it seems that home schooling, for those Black families who can fit it in to their schedules, may be an emerging alternative.
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Brett Johnson is a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based writer and the founder of the music and culture blog VeryArtistical.com.