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Failing Public Schools Motivate More Black Families To Homeschool

Lance Izumi, RealClearEducation

Black History Month in America is marked by record-breaking numbers of African American families who are leaving failing public schools to homeschool their children.

Parents and particularly black parents found that the public schools were incapable of managing the COVID-19 epidemic. Prior to the outbreak, African-American children were not learning well in public schools.

Only one-half of the ten eighth grade black students who took the math and reading national exams in 2019 scored above proficiency.

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This made an already difficult situation worse. According to a 2021 McKinsey & Company study, “students in majority Black schools ended the [2020-21 school] year with six months of unfinished learning.” The study concluded: “The pandemic widened preexisting opportunity and achievement gaps, hitting historically disadvantaged students hardest.”

Not surprisingly, black parents reacted to this educational disaster by doing the one thing they could do immediately – pull their children out of public schools to homeschool them instead.

Homeschooling increased in all races and ethnicities during the pandemic. However, it rose dramatically among African Americans. Census Bureau data show that homeschooling in black homes increased sixfold from 3% in spring 2020, to 18% by spring 2021. Homeschooling is now a relatively equal practice among Hispanic, white and black households.

One African-American mother in Detroit told The New Yorker that she had challenged the city’s school superintendent, saying: “Parents are not deciding to take their children out because of COVID. They are taking action [homeschooling pods] because education has failed children in this city forever.”

Jeanetta Riley, another mother interviewed by The New Yorker, said, “A lot of Black people are struggling.” Her daughter was performing two grade levels behind in math when she decided to join a local homeschool parents’ group.

Riley used Khan Academy Tutorials, an online learning program that is free, and many other resources to homeschool her daughter. Her daughter now achieves grade-level results. Riley hopes to keep homeschooling her daughter even after the pandemic, and she is happy.

Blacks have many reasons to choose homeschooling, not just because of their academics.

Demetria Zinga, who created a popular homeschool YouTube channel, believes that black families “choose homeschooling for different reasons” and that “each family is unique.” Some, she says, choose to homeschool because of the time and schedule flexibility it offers, while others want to take their children out of public schools because their kids “are being dishonored or devalued.”

Further, she says that many African-American families want to “share our values and we want to pass on our heritage, which cannot be done holistically if we’re sending off our children for eight hours a day to be under the care of a system that doesn’t support that.”

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Zinga used the freedom and flexibility that homeschooling affords to choose the type of curriculum that best suited her children’s needs. Her oldest daughter Nyomi thrived using a classical education curriculum, which she said was “a pretty hard challenge,” but which “was helpful to make me a better writer.”

“I believe homeschooling is growing and exploding amongst African Americans and there will be more and more homeschoolers,” Zinga predicts. She says that homeschooling has been “a journey well worth it” because “I really got to be there for [my kids] in a way that I wouldn’t have been any way else.”

Khadija Ali-Coleman, co-founder of the growing Black Family Homeschool Educators and Scholars, observed, “COVID-19 was the publicist for homeschooling.” With the success and satisfaction that many parents are experiencing with teaching their kids at home, expect homeschooling to be a key wave of the future in the black community.

Real Clear Wire permission granted permission for this syndicated article.

Lance Izumi serves as the senior director for the Center for Education at Pacific Research Institute. He’s the author of the new PRI Book. The Homeschool Boom: Pandemics, Policies, And Possibilities.

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