Kitchen Over Classroom: 7 reasons black families are choosing to homeschool
Updated: Mar 2
With society being on the cusp of a great shift, one of the more recognizable changes being noted is parents taking the reins pertaining to their children’s education. According to a 2018 PBS.org report, it was estimated that the number of homeschooled children doubled from 103,000 to about 220,000 in the past 15 years. Black children make up 8 percent of the 1.7 million students being homeschooled in 2018, according to the U.S. department of education. While a number of reports suggest that black homeschooled students score higher on standard reading and math test, there are still those who cringe at the growing trend. Critics believe that a parent’s choice to take their child out of traditional schools is a slap in the face to those who fought so hard to integrate schools during the Civil Rights era. In response to this critique, I would challenge one to consider the current state of the black community now compared to the Civil Rights era. In regard to education attainment, family wealth and health, the numbers look promising. However, when you look at the larger picture and take inflation and societal changes into consideration compared to the average growth of the white community, these factors have either been stagnant or declined. When specifically accounting for home ownership, unemployment and incarceration, there is a clear disparity and acknowledgement that “America has failed to deliver any progress for African Americans over the last five decades”, according to Jones, Schmitt and Wilson (2018). These facts have left many to wonder, why continue the same antics expecting a different outcome? This thought process, along with the seven reasons listed below are why parents like me and many others are ditching the back of the bus for the driver’s seat!
1. Identity (Historical and Social Constructs)
Let’s start with the elephant in the room. It is no secret that most public, charter and private schools greatly fail to teach an in-depth perspective of “black history”, let alone current social constructs that affect us and how it dictates the future. The concept of state or what we now know as public school was greatly inspired by an attempt to gain and maintain social control, aid the industrial revolution and to take children from parents that were deemed “incompetent” and unfit to rear their own children. Considering the African American experience in this country, if we replace the industrial revolution with the prison industrial complex it seems as though this plan was catered to us, without even trying. That’s three strikes… and we’re left out. Not only is it dangerous for the development of our children to make them feel as if their story doesn’t matter, but it is equally detrimental to replace it with a false narrative. Giving our babies the impression that their history started with slavery, because that’s as far back as schools are willing to go, is not only false but also creates a deep rooted inferiority that cripples their confidence and perspective of what they are able to accomplish and attain.
With each year that passes I truly get a better understanding as to why time is our most valuable resource. No matter what we do it can never be bargained or replaced. When I took the time to really consider what all goes into a day at school, I realized that out of a full school day there is a small fraction of time spent toward instruction and learning. Let’s take an elementary student’s day for example. Between bathroom breaks, disciplinary actions, lunch/recesses, extracurricular classes and classroom interruptions, there is a significant amount of time that could have been better spent. While these factors entail learning to some degree, ultimately it is time wasted when you consider that there are 25-30 (I’m being generous) individual student to take into account for these actions. The same can be applied to middle school and high school students as well. Think about how many mandatory classes you took that you had zero interest in and never utilized the information you learned. Imagine if that time would have been catered to you… just imagine.
Hopefully you followed my instructions and really took the time to consider how things would be different for you if that wasted time in school had been customized for you. Instead of spending time learning useless information, homeschooled children have the freedom to participate in in-depth learning based off their individual interests, needs and learning styles. Outside of interest, children’s needs and learning styles also vary greatly, but this is not telling of the standard cookie cutter curriculum that most schools provide. Can you imagine the chaos of 30 students with various learning styles trying to all grasp a concept taught by one teacher? That’s right, you don’t have to imagine, because most likely you lived it. Homeschoolers also have the freedom to travel, think outside the box, ask questions without feeling judged and/or ridiculed, explore nontraditional concepts, and put their money were their mouth is… literally. Homeschool provides a great base for practical learning. Something as simple as starting a cookie business teaches a child to follow instructions, master a craft, budget, explore investments and yields and so much more while seeing the fruit of their labor. The possibilities of a child are endless, and what better way to teach them than to show and prove!
It is a common myth that homeschooled children don’t know how to interact with others and are therefore deemed “uncool” or “lame”. And what could be worse that a lame (urban definition) child?... I can think of plenty, but I won’t go there lol. I chuckle at this thought because I have to wonder how beneficial it actually is for my child to learn socialization skills from children and influences that I’ve never met a day in my life. Speaking from personal experience, by choice I would not want my children to be taught and inspired by the same sources that influenced me. I think I turned out okay, but truth is I could have saved myself a lot of headaches that still affect me today. While no one way of doing anything is perfect, if I have any control, I choose to expose my children to more controlled and positive forms of socialization via family friends and cousins, athletic activities, extracurricular activities, clubs, like minded groups and business opportunities. Think about how much stronger your child will be if they are compelled to create a social construct, instead of just following one imposed on them by default.
The independence of homeschooling instills the values of leadership and accountability. As children age though homeschooling, they learn that the effort that they put in is directly returned, for the good or bad. Without a formal instructor they have no crutch, no one to blame, no one to pawn their shortcomings off on. They are forced to find their own answers, create their own avenues and set the precedence for those they encounter. This instils a strength that no one can counter. Not only do homeschool environments creative strong leaders, but it also eliminates faulty ones. Another ugly truth for black children in mainstream schooling systems is that they are often times set up for failure by the very institutes that claim to prepare them for success. Unbeknownst to most teachers who may have the best intentions for our children, the principles that have been subconsciously instilled in them are the very things that put our children in positions to fail. Don’t believe me, just google “school to prison pipeline”. Our children are frequently discriminated against with harsher punishments, lower expectations and dual realities that their peers of other backgrounds aren’t faced with to the same degree. Again, if I have the choice to customize my child’s learning environment, I will choose every time to gift them with the most positive and encouraging conditions as possible, considering peers and authority figures alike.
6. Moral Compass
1963 marked that start of a trickling effect to eradicate religion from schools. Oddly enough I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing. On one hand, because I firmly believe in the bible I understand the strong moral foundation that it provides, and how that positively affects a child. On the other hand, I understand and plan to teach my children the bible in a significantly different manner than those who our current society is catered to. Because one’s moral compass serves as their foundation, we should not feel comfortable with leaving the task of instilling morals and spirituality in our children up to anyone other than ourselves. The beautiful thing about homeschooling is that you have full autonomy to determine exactly how this is implemented… or not.
While no monetary value could ever be placed on our children, I think it is safe to say they are our biggest assets. The molding and education of your child is the biggest investment that should be made. Not only will your child carry on your name and legacy throughout generations, they will also affect and determine the future of the world. This is such a huge deal that the thought is somewhat difficult to process. Yes! That’s how important it is. Because we are our children’s initial and most influential teachers, we must first dismiss all notions of inferiority and discover the power we possess, not only over our children, but over society at large.
This perspective is by no means intended to discredit teachers and other school officials, as I was once included in this class and passionate about my mission and duties to my students. However, because of the positions that I once held, I am fully aware that the mainstream schooling system is greatly flawed. Maintaining the same mission and duties, I hope to now encourage us to unite as a community and fix the wrongs we have ignored for too long.
2 Timothy 1:7
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Jones, J., Schmitt, J., Wilson, V. (2018, February 26) 50 Years After the Kerner Commission: African Americans are better off in many ways but are still disadvantaged by racial inequality. Retrieved from https://www.epi.org/publication/50-years-after-the-kerner-commission/