The number of African-American parents choosing to homeschool their children is increasing, according to industry researchers and advocates.
While no formal studies of the trend have been released, Dr. Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), said his work indicates the numbers are increasing. Between 110,000 and 140,000 African-American children in grades K through 12 were homeschooled during the 2005-06 school year, the only year for which hard figures are available.
“African Americans, like so many others, are quickly coming to recognize the myriad benefits of parent-led home-based education,” Ray said.
The trend has spawned several new support groups, including organizations such as the National African-American Homeschoolers Alliance (NAAHA) and the National Black Home Educators Resource Association. Web sites and magazines targeted specifically at African-American homeschooling parents likewise indicate an increase of interest on the part of black parents.
NAAHA Director Jennifer James said many black families find their local public schools unacceptable.
“The number one reason black parents are choosing to homeschool their children is because they have run out of options,” James said. “Parents across the country tell me that they want to make sure that students are learning, and the local public schools are not getting the job done.”
Chris Klicka, senior counsel of the Home School Legal Defense Association, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Purcellville, Virginia that represents all racial groups, said minority children get an especially poor education in the public school system.
“People are disgruntled with the public school system,” Klicka said. “When you look at test scores in the public school system, there is a gap between white students and black students. Statistics show that homeschooled children do better academically than public school children, no matter what their race.”
According to a 2003 NHERI study, home-educated students generally score at the 65th to 80th percentile on achievement tests–15 to 30 percentile points higher than those in public schools.
“More African-American parents are homeschooling their children because they don’t want their children to be a statistic of failure academically,” Klicka said.
Voddie Baucham, who pastors a church in Magnolia, Texas where 90 percent of the congregation homeschools their children, said he and his wife Bridget decided to do so because his wife–a former public school teacher–thought they’d do a better job than the local school system.
“When African-Americans were fighting for equal rights in education, we were not fighting to have our children placed in an inferior educational system,” Baucham said. “I think the homeschool alternative is the best thing that happened to African-Americans in a long time. As homeschool parents, we get an education too, and we realize that the public school system gave us a poor education.”
Glen Jackson of Prince George’s County, Maryland said he and his wife Laurie decided to homeschool their two children because they wanted to give them more than an education.
“Homeschooling is not just educating your kids–this is your legacy,” Jackson explained. “You are instilling things in them that money cannot buy, and science and technology cannot fix.”
Daschell M. Phillips ([email protected]) is a freelance writer in Chicago.
For more information …
Academic Statistics on Homeschooling, Home School Legal Defense Association, October 22, 2004, http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000010/200410250.asp?