September 1, 2014

Education for Black America: Home schooling leads the way

School’s Out

You know what’s the difference between a jobless African American and a jobless white American? There’s a higher chance of the white person being educated and therefore he is more likely of the two to get employed. This isn’t just about racial discrimination; rather it’s about the actual disparity in literacy amongst blacks and whites.

Recent studies have indicated that the gap is bound to increase due to social and economic concerns about the welfare of children and the increasing cost of education. The biggest change instigated by this is the growing number of home schooled African Americans.

The A-B-C-D of home schooling

Traditionally, home schooling has been considered a rich and successful way to educate our children. The intensive and dedicated efforts of parents have made kids more aware and attuned to their surroundings and current events. But for black families, this is turning into a necessity rather than an option. They are the fastest growing population group in the home schooling segment and one estimate puts the number of black children being taught at home to well above 200,000. As mentioned, social and economic issues are the biggest factors in building this trend. African American families still think twice before enrolling their kids in public schools as lack of sensitive education about respecting different cultural groups still makes racism a valid concern. The whole school experience can be demoralizing and even devastating for minority populations which can leave them scarred for life. Colored kids are picked out for bullying and they usually retort in a similar vein, forcing parents to turn to home schooling as viable alternative.

Economics, as a factor, cannot be underestimated. Education costs have skyrocketed in the last decade or so and people are hard-pressed to find the requisite cash. Interest rates for educational loans have also been steadily climbing up and have in fact become the last resort for educational funding. Even if the parents do want go for this option; getting a loan approved is a lot tougher and lengthier if you are not white. Public schooling, as you can clearly see, is not the best overall option a black family has and this been the driving force behind the increasing number of home schooled individuals. There is one genuine concern raised about kids that study at home: they don’t get to interact with people of other cultural groups or heritage. This is only partially true as the kids have their neighborhoods and playgrounds to interact with other children and actually have the benefit of being a part of a more conducive environment.

Verdict

Is it the way forward? Well the idea looks to have its heart in the right place. Parents, who teach their children at home, can make sure that adequate attention is being paid to the quality of learning and the child can grow in a healthy, risk-free environment. A specific incentive for black families is that they are able to teach their kids about African American history which is generally neglected in public schools apart from a cursory look over the life of Martin Luther King Jr. or Malcolm X. Religious education is another point in favor of home schooling as parents can decide the way a child develops his or her beliefs. Simply put, the student is able to learn the things that actually make a difference.

One cannot ignore the fact there will always be teachers who believe that students from minorities don’t have the requisite intellect to grasp technicalities. This type of biased, 18th century mentality will no longer be a concern with proper education at home. But what about the positive student-teacher interaction? In a class of 50 students, a child will be lucky to even have 5 minutes of healthy interaction with their teachers. This is ridiculous compared to the constant attention a child gets at home. No more worries of racial abuse, no more bullying, no wasted talent, no exorbitant fees and no senseless subjects: If this isn’t a ‘win-win’ situation then I don’t know what is.

The flexibility you can have is mandated by the local state laws which determine what subjects are to be taught and how the student is supposed to be assessed at home. This is meant to introduce a curriculum and order in the home schooling process, which only serves to make it more lucrative. Parents need to sit down and think hard if this is exactly what their child requires and if so; they shouldn’t hesitate.