Homeschooling on the Rise Among African-Americans

Monday, March 19, 2012

School photos, classroom, hallway (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

According to the National Home Education Research Institute (NHEI), about two million American children (about 4 percent of all American students) receive their education at home. The NHEI claims that those families are usually white Christians in rural areas who disagree with the public school system on religious grounds. 

Although no formal accounting is necessary for home-schoolers and actual statistics are a little difficult to come by, African-Americans are choosing to take their children out of the public school system in greater numbers. But why? For more we speak with Joyce Burges, co-founder of National Black Home Educators, a resource network that encourages families who are considering home education.

Guests:

Joyce Burges

Produced by:

Hsi-Chang Lin

Comments [4]

Carter from East Orange, NJ

One point that seems to rarely get the coverage it deserves in discussions of homeschooling/unschooling, is the perspective of families who choose this path due to an understanding of mainstream practices of education in this country as essentially replicating and maintaining racist, sexist, and class hierarchies. It's not always simply the desire to increase exposure to "left-out" material that is often left out of public schools that motivates African Americans and other to opt out of these institutions (although we very much agree with this point of view), it's the knowledge that these institutions have been shaped to reflect the most destructive practices of social division and hierarchy that mar our nation's history and present. Such a perspective doesn't necessitate a removal of children from society however. Our unschooled children have a firm grounding in our critical perspective on schooling, yet they maintain strong friendships with children who attend school and participate in activities with schoolchildren (elite club soccer is about a schooly as it comes). Indeed, they are socially and critically engaged with the world around them on a daily basis -- we just want them to be able to do this from a position of strength, and with a deeper critical perspective on the forces shaping their realities.

Mar. 19 2012 09:51 AM
Darryl Zeigler from Cambridge, MA

The program was interesting but I kept waiting for some mention of the impact of family income on the decision to home school one's children. Given the income disparities between white families and families of color, it is not surprising that the percentage of non-white families home schooling their children would be low. How many families, black or otherwise, can afford to have one parent not in the workforce.

Mar. 19 2012 08:30 AM
JRD from Brooklyn

I have home schooled my son for the past two years--7th and 8th grades-we call it the LearnMeProject http://learnmeproject.com/ Have never been a fan of schools in general and so when circumstances suggested an opportunity to try this I jumped at, my son enthusiastically aboard, my wife less so, our younger son (still schooled) observing quietly the proceedings. It's been great, he's met and worked with great people, developed a much stronger sense of himself, his own potential and the potential of the world. Have spent the past few months getting "beat up" by the NYC DOE admissions process, though we seem to have come out of it okay in the end. He's headed to a progressive private school next year, thanks mostly to generous aid. There is so much more out there--in NYC, on the Internet, inside us all--that schools cannot ever provide. From the opportunity costs of school--not just the time but the limiting nature of the endeavor overall--the opportunity of home school has allowed my son to thrive. He and I write--well, wrote, but soon to write again--about it at the aforementioned http://learnmeproject.com/.

Mar. 19 2012 07:13 AM
Jackie Evans from Georgia

We homeschooled our four children from 1988 until 2008. All four are now in college with the first to graduate in May. It was the most rewarding experience for me as a parent, the first-teacher of my children. I began teaching each one to read in preparation for school, but found that following my own agenda for their education was so much easier than fighting with my local school system.

We had limited resources as a one-income, one old car family, but my children had and still have a rich foundation filled with a love of reading, stories, and go figure math. Three of our children are math or science majors.

Homeschooling is not for everyone, but those who choose this hard road, will find it well worth their investment.

Mar. 19 2012 07:08 AM

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