My wife recently sent me the article, Home schooling: Why more Black US families are trying it, and I checked it out. The article named school violence and school system’s labeling of children, i.e. ADHD or learning disabled, as the two primary reasons that more African Americans are choosing to home school their children.
As parents of a young child, living in a inner city, that has it share of “school problems”, my wife and I are always talking about and looking into options for our child’s education. The public schools in our neighborhood are not really an option and the $27,000 private schools in our area, are not an option I want to take, smile. But I never really considered home schooling. In fact, I was pretty much against the idea.
In my opinion, homeschooling was an option for the affluent, it deprives kids of the chance to play sports and the kids have a hard time socially dealing with other kids. But then this article pointed out notable exceptions to each of my reservations. First their was Sonya, the government employee and single mother that wasn’t wealthy but decided to homeschool her son. Then their was, Tim Tebow the NFL quarterback that was homeschooled, still played high school sports and has become one of the most popular football players of our time. And Whoopi Goldberg who as a comedienne, actor and talk show host, I think is probably pretty “socially adjusted”.
So at this point, now I am listening and wondering – is home schooling a viable education option and why are more black families going that route?
So I spoke with Joyce Burgess, co-founder of the National Black Home Educators (NBHE), as she prepared for the 12th Annual NBHE Conference this weekend. Talk about a wealth of information! In addition to co-founding the organization, she has also home schooled her own 5 children over the last 23 years – all of which are very successful in their chosen fields. Here are some of the benefits she cited for African American home schoolers:
1. Family Togetherness. We are losing a sense of family in our community, in large part to the messages taught in our public schools and the influences our children are being exposed to.
2. Nurturing environment. Parents can provide a environment catered to their child’s needs that kids do not get from their public school, at the same level.
3. Values. Parents retain the control over the values instilled in their children as opposed to the school “system”.
4. Gang violence and drugs. In many cities, our schools have become inundated by the crime, drugs and gangs that surround that school.
5. Special needs. Teachers in the 1 teacher, 30 student classroom setting often don’t have the time or resources to focus on each child individually. She shared a story of a young girl that was punished and labeled as a behavior problem, because she would not sit still. It turned out that she was too young to articulate that she could not see, and her not sitting still was a desire to sit closer to the front of the class, so she could see.
6. Focus on education. According to Joyce, because of the failures of the education system, we are seeing African American boys as early as 14 and girls as early as 16 years of age, dropping out of public schools.
7. Sense of history is being lost. Beyond Martin Luther King, their is a wealth of “Black” history that is never taught in a public school system that can be used to shape young African Americans.
8. Home schooled children are in high demand by colleges. Mrs. Burgess shared that, “from your Harvard’s to the local Junior College” home schooled children are in high demand because of their preparedness to enter and excel at the college level.
To me these are pretty compelling arguments, especially those that speak to educational advancement and self-awareness, but I still have some questions.
What ways do you give a home school child the social skills to be prepared for life if they are not around other children their age, all day.
Joyce suggested that whether a child is home schooled or goes a more traditional route, a parent must be proactive in preparing a child socially for adulthood. Some of the suggestions offered were to involve children in local community sports programs. Some states also allow home schoolers to participate in their public school sports programs. Children also are a part of their local neighborhoods and local churches, which provide activities and opportunities for children to interact with other kids their age. She also recalled how her own children partook in college internships, worked on political campaigns and had foreign students stay with them in the their home.
The last question, I needed to address was that of cost. How much does it cost to home school a child?
According to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSDLA), which is an advocate for parents that choose to home school their children, the average cost is about $500, but in many cases could even be far less than that. At $500 a year, home schooling is far less than private school and more than public school. There should also be an expectation that at least one parent will have to spend time at home teaching that child.
I must admit after talking with Joyce and researching home schooling options for myself, I consider it a viable and very possible option for my own child. Of course we are just scratching the surface of the benefits of home schooling, to find out more go to www.nbhe.net.
How about you, BMWK family, do you think that their are benefits to African American’s receiving a home school education?