Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Black Home-Schoolers on the Rise

More Black Families Home Schooling

By ZINIE CHEN SAMPSON, Associated Press Writer Sun Dec 11, 6:19 PM ET

RICHMOND, Va. - Denise Armstrong decided to home school her daughter and two sons because she thought she could do a better job of instilling her values in her children than a public school could. And while she once found herself the lone black parent at home-education gatherings that usually were dominated by white Christian evangelicals, she's noticed more black parents joining the ranks.

"I've been delighted to be running into people in the African-American home-schooling community," Armstrong said.

Home-school advocates say the apparent increase in black families opting to educate their children at home reflects a wider desire among families of all races to guide their children's moral upbringing, along with growing concerns about issues such as sub-par school conditions and preserving cultural heritage.

"About 10 years ago, we started seeing more and more black families showing up at conferences and it's been steadily increasing since then," said Michael Smith, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association, a national advocacy group.

Nationwide, about 1.1 million children were home schooled in 2003, or 2.2 percent of the school-age population. That was up from about 850,000, or 1.7 percent, in 1999, according to the U.S.
Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics. A racial breakdown of home-schooled students isn't yet available, the center said.

However, the Home School Legal Defense Association says the percentage of black home-schooling families has increased, though hard numbers weren't available.

The numbers are still very low because most black families lack the time or economic resources to devote to home schooling, said Michael Apple, an education professor at the University of Wisconsin who tracks home schooling. He said much of the increase is seen in cities with histories of racial tensions and where black people feel alienated and marginalized.

Some families decide to do it because public schools don't adequately teach African-American history and culture, some want to protect their children from school violence, "and for some, it's all of this and religion," Apple said.

Armstrong said she wants her children — ages 12, 10 and 7 — to have a "moral Judeo-Christian foundation" that public schools can't provide.

"I felt that my husband and I would be able to give more of a tutorial, individual learning situation than a teacher trying to address 40 kids at one time," said Armstrong, who lives in the Richmond area.

She said she also was concerned that schools wrongly label some black boys as learning-disabled while white children with similar behavior are not.

To help guide black home-schooling families, Joyce and Eric Burges started the National Black Home Educators Resource Association in 2000. She said many families were dissatisfied with their public schools but weren't aware that home schooling was legal.

Joyce Burges, of the Baton Rouge, La., area, says she and other black home schoolers have been likened to traitors by people who think they've turned their backs on the struggle to gain equal access to public education. But she feels that when schools don't teach children to read, or fail to provide a safe place to learn, children should come first.

"You do what you have to do that your children get an excellent education," she said. "Don't leave it up to the system."

Apple, the Wisconsin professor, said improving public education for the greatest number of students depends on mass mobilization by concerned parents, but he raises a cautionary note.

"They're trying as hard as they possibly can to protect their children, and for that they must be applauded," Apple said. "But in the long run, protecting their own children may even lead to worse conditions for the vast majority of students who stay in public schools, and that's a horrible dilemma."

National Black Home Educators Resource Association:

I think home-schooling is a viable option not just for blacks but for every family. It's not a rare occasion to see families home-schooling their children now-a-days. In fact, kids who get perfect scores on the ACT and SAT tests come from a home-schooled environment. Past National Spelling Bee champions have been home-schooled. My wife who is getting her teacher's aide certificate in the spring wrote a paper defending home-schooling. My mother, who is very intelligent, wished she had home-schooled her kids. I probably would have done better in my studies especially after my 9th grade year when I started getting bored with school.
I do have a 7 year old step-daughter who has a learning disability. When we lived in Effingham,IL they did very little in helping her with her problem. However, when we moved to Springfield,IL, the school district has bent over backwards to make sure that there was a plan to help my step-daughter overcome her learning disability. She has been in her new school for 4 months and one can already see a change in her behavior and confidence.
Both my wife and I go to college so the public school is our only option. As a libertarian I believe in school choice and the government has no right to interfere in a family's ecision on how they should educate their children. Home-schooling is a great option people should explore. Throwing more money into a broken system isn't going to help educate our future. I also feel that parents need to be more pro-active in their childrens' education. I know for a fact that there isn't a lot in the way of African-American history taught in many school districts. I plan on teaching my son, who is bi-racial and my step-daughter who is white, about black history. I didn't learn my African-American history in school, my mother taught me some, but I researched what I know now. I ran for school board back in Effingham,IL in 2003 and I was astonished to see that the school board members were appoving texts without knowing what these books entailed.
Some people think that home-schooled children are sheltered. I say they are more advanced than public schooled children. There are plenty of after school programs that non-governmnetal organizations provide for all children that entail socialization. One could take a field trip to the museums, libraries and other cultural centers to enhance a child's learning. I would love to take my family to Kansas City one day and see the Negro League Museum. There is so much to learn that the public or parivate schools can not teach. Even if you do not agree with home-schooling, at least take a more pro-active role in your child's education because in the long run it will be worth it. Keep home-schooling an option-you may need to uase it one day. I am happy to see people giving home-schooling a chance and I am sure they aren't disappointed with their decision.


Anonymous Susan Ryan said...

Hi Christopher. Thanks for leading me to your blog. Interesting reading from a Libertarian and a Springfield standpoint. You're right in the hub bub, aren't you? I think I'm one of those with a small l or libertarian view. Actually, I can't figure out what I am except an adamant homeschooler. Loving the life we lead.

I thought that article was interesting too. If you're looking for groups, then I'm pretty sure there are homeschooling groups in your area. If you don't find anything, I think I can direct you to the right people.

"My mother, who is very intelligent, wished she had home-schooled her kids."

I wish my mom had homeschooled her kids. ;-)

Friday, February 24, 2006 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger Christopher Bennett said...

Thank you Susan,

I wished my mother would had homeschooled me too. And keep reading this from time to time I'll keep posting some interesting stuff on here. College has me busy busy busy!

Friday, February 24, 2006 12:51:00 PM  

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