Homeschooling is increasingly becoming a common way of schooling children in America. The percentage of US children who are homeschooled has been rising over the past few decades. Between 1999 and 2016, the percentage of the school age population who were homeschooled doubled from 1.7% to 3.3%, or close to 1.7 million students.
The population of children who are homeschooled in America is predominantly white, and is generally known to be concentrated in suburban or rural areas. According to the U.S. Department of Education statistics, Black children accounted for about 8% of the 1.7 million homeschooled students in the 2016.
Federal educational statistics show that 3.8% of white children are homeschooled, which is twice the proportion of black students who are homeschooled.National Center for Education Statistics
Most parents that feel like they have the bandwidth to homeschool their children have flexible working hours (at least one parent) or work from home. That’s because the ability to work from home is largely tied to income .
Federal labor data show that in 2017 and 2018, 61.5% of workers in the top income quartile could work from home. A recent survey of workers in the U.S found connections between people’s income and their ability to work remotely. Higher earners seem more likely to be able to work from home, and thus the concentration of kids that are homeschooled also overlap with that category.
Even though homeschooling is mostly popular among higher income groups, more and more middle-class black families are opting their children out of public and private schools to homeschool them instead. So what federal education data don’t show is what’s driving those 136,000 or so black students and their families into homeschooling.
There is a lot of research that shows how America’s public schools treat Black students with more harshness than their white peers
A sociologist Mahala Dyer Stewart interviewed 67 middle-class black and white mothers living in a northeastern metropolitan area to understand patterns associated with these numbers. The findings show that mothers’ schooling explanations reflect their experiences as shaped by the racial hierarchy constituted in schools:
Disproportionate disciplining. According to a study by University of Pennsylvania in Georgia, 67% public school students who are suspended are Black, while black students make up only 37% of the public school population.
Moreover, a study by sociologists Edward Morris and Brea Perry had similar observations: Black boys are twice as likely as white boys to receive disciplinary action such as office referral, detention, suspension or expulsion. Black girls are three times as likely as white girls to be disciplined for less serious and arguably more ambiguous behavior, such as disruptive behavior, dress code violations or disobedience. .
“If you look at what happens in public schools in terms of the curriculum, you could end up thinking that African American history begins with Slavery and ended with Martin Luther king.”Cheryl Fields-Smith, Associate professor of Education, University of Georgia
A short documentary by NBC News highlights how Black parents also look at homeschooling ‘As way of Freedom’. Homeschooling seems to be a way of ‘seizing control’ of their children’s schooling in an act of affirmation—a means of liberating themselves from the systemic racism embedded in so many of today’s schools.
The way African American heritage is taught in schools seems to lack the brevity of what it’s like to live as a Black person in today’s America, and is a driving reason behind Parents pulling their kids out of system-based schooling.
National Council for the Social Studies highlights that generally, US history classrooms devote less than 10% of class time to African American history. This is a realization that people are progressively associating with all over America. A few Black parents also look at homeschooling as a way of ‘protesting’ against the system. It’s almost an ideological movement, to show that no more will the African American community get ‘used to’ racial discrimination. And so ensuring a healthy experience of a Black child during their formative years in schooling is a fueling factor for homeschooling trends.
The success rate of children who are homeschooled also show great progress. A 2015 study by National Home Education Research institute showed that black home schooled students outperformed black public school students by upto 42 percentile points on standard tests.
So there’s a growing excitement about the benefits of homeschooling in the American demographic. One of the most interesting outcomes of this trend, is the birth of new institutions that help support this change.
There are a growing number of ‘private group’ classrooms where children are homeschooled together, and the curriculums are individualised to include more secular ideas. There are also a lot of online homeschooling programs available for parents to use for homeschooling their kids.
Black Homeschoolers of Central Florida is a non profit organization that is committed to creating growth opportunities for Black homeschoolers. BHCFL’s Directors and Officers are a dedicated group of homeschooling parents that help further the cause of ‘equal’ education for all.
Their mission statement says that they exist solely to inform, educate and help other homeschooling families, namely those of colour, in the Central Florida area and around the United States.
Their programs run from September- May with an objective to increase academic, college and career access. They also focus on improving self-confidence, increasing test scores among students especially those who are minority, struggling academically or have a learning disability and do not have monetary means to get help.
Post COVID-19, life has been hard for most people, and especially so for nonprofits working with a cause. Check out this Volunteering opportunity with Black Homeschoolers of Central Florida, and help further the cause of Racial Equality and Education in America.
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