Black Education / Schools : In African-American Communities, Growing Interest In Home-Schooling


Well-Known Member
Aug 28, 2015

On a quiet street in Detroit, light pours into the back windows of the Kirksey home. In the back of the house the walls are lined with textbooks, workbooks and multicultural children's books. It's a home — but it's also a classroom.

Brandon, 8, is wearing pajamas and a paper crown from Burger King. He heads into the back room and pulls a large laminated world map off the bookshelf.

"This is the whole entire map! Michigan," he says enthusiastically pointing to his home state. His two siblings, Zachary, 3, and Ariyah, 1, echo him.

Their mother and teacher, Camille Kirksey, ushers them into the dining room. Sitting among bowls of fruit and stacks of books, the kids figure out the date and the weather.

This is a typical start to Brandon's school day. Today's agenda: poetry recitation. Then, it's time for reading and math. Fridays are reserved for science experiments and field trips.

Brandon is part of a distinct subgroup of the U.S. home-schooling population: African-Americans.

"Black home-schooling is definitely on the rise," says Ama Mazama, a professor of African-American studies at Temple University.

It's hard to determine the exact number of home-school students, let alone the racial breakdown. Most estimates put the total figure at roughly 2 million and suggest that between 5 and 10 percent are black.

Mazama says black home-schoolers tend to come from urban, two-parent households.

The key question, she says, is why these families are deciding to leave traditional schools. Research suggests black families often choose to home school for very different reasons than white families.

"White home-schoolers, the No. 1 reason they give when asked is religion," Mazama says. "For the black families, it was not the case at all. It was racism."

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That is why we should have worthwhile reading lists:

Black Man's Burden, by Dallas McCord Reynolds

A White teacher at a school with mostly Black students told me that she used Project Gutenberg but had not told her students about it. What?

52,000 books now though I think some are worthless because they are just too old. A book about surgery from 1860, please.

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Thanks to my daughter, I have personal experience with and have become a strong advocate for home-schools. My granddaughter is home schooled and she took to it like a fish in water. She participates in an accredited secular based home school online program where she works at her own pace and has access to faculty online when she needs them. She started in 5th grade and is going into her senior year. She has exceptional grades and it suits her personality.

But, a word of caution. This may not be for everyone because if you have to work outside the home, this won't work for the parents, unless parents work it out where their children can join another home school pod in their community. If your children need more socializing or have difficulty concentrating or disciplining themselves at home, this won't work for the students. Parents have to be disciplined also as do the students to create a schedule and stick to it and a space that encourages learning. Only then will our students excel while being home-schooled.

Reasons for choosing to home school--racism and bullying.


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