Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith did it. And now it seems more African-Americans are doing it, too…home schooling their kids, that is. According to the National Home Education Research Institute, minorities account for about 15 percent of the nearly 2 million home-schooled students in the country.
And according to the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics, home schooling increased 77 percent from 1999 to 2007. African-Americans are turning to home schooling for various reasons, say experts, including high drop out rates for blacks, the lack of black history education being taught in schools, as well as the lack of black male teachers as role models for male students.
Education expert Dr. Bisa Batten Lewis, founder and managing partner of Ideal Early Learning, LLC and WINGS Curriculum, LLC. believes in homeschooling so much she home schooled her children, after pulling them out of the public school system. “Left Behind in America: The Nation’s Dropout Crisis” reports astonishing statistics on school dropouts. African-American parents who value education are realizing, now more than ever, that public education is dropping below the status quo and does not prepare their children for the quality of life they desire," she says. "Specifically, statistics show that high school drop-out rates are on the rise and high school graduate rates are declining. As a result, more African-American parents are deciding it is high time to take control of their own children’s education. With all the options for education, including private, charter, virtual, and faith-based schools, parents are exploring alternative education options for their children. African-American parents who have flexible schedules, stay at home, or work from home are considering, and are now choosing, to home-school their own children versus allowing them to be statistics of the declining status quo."
Home schooling rules vary from state to state. Some states don´t even collect stats on how many of its children are homeschooled. To check with the rules and regulations of your state and city, contact the Board of Education in your area. You will also need to establish your home school legally. Do as much research as possible and connect with other parents who are home schooling. Among the drawbacks is the lack of social connection children have when they are in a regular school, but according to Lewis, the positives of home schooling outweigh the negative aspects.
"There is overwhelming research on how homeschooling is more beneficial to children. Home- schooled children are better socialized, better-behaved, and perform higher on standardized tests. Homeschooling allows children to work at their own pace and actually learn more about content than they do in public schools due to the large classes and discipline issues," says Lewis, relating her own experience. "Although my sons were honor roll students in public school, with home school, I can actually see what they are learning and how much better they are able to apply learned content in daily life. They seemed to just be getting by in public schools. But now, they are better readers, writers, problem-solvers and critical thinkers. These skills will take them through adulthood."
Homeschooling is a major responsibility on the part of the parents as you---and you alone--are guiding your child´s education. "In homeschooling, parents are totally involved and aware through on-going communication. We receive communication on the front-end versus depending on messages/notes sent through our children. Home schools are not bound by some of the restraints of brick and mortar schools; parents are able to expose children to many more experiences. I always tell people that, “Exposure is education”; because, children learn more by ‘doing’," notes Lewis.
One of the problems with home schooling can come when your kids are applying for colleges. As Lewis explains, "Credentialing and college prep can be major drawbacks in homeschooling. Therefore, parents need to make sure the home-school programs they choose are approved by a recognized accrediting body and are transferrable to public schools in their area," she advises. "That way, if parents should decide to return their children to public school, the children lose no credits and continue just as students enrolled in the brick and mortar schools. Secondly, parents should ensure that graduates of the home school program they choose earn a state-approved high school diploma versus a General Education Diploma (GED). These are very important issues and often become manifest during the college selection process, which is much too late. Parents choosing any type of alternative education should, during the program selection process, be sure they are choosing a school that is approved by their state’s Department of Education, so their children can attend a college of their choice."
Economically, it can actually become more expensive for your child to be home schooled. "Parents who work out of the home part- or full-time may save money on afterschool care. However, more money is spent on food, since children are home all day eating all meals and snacks in the home versus eating one to two meals at school," says Lewis. "The expenses of home school depend on the type of program children are enrolled. Some home-school programs have high expenses for curriculum materials, based on the grade level with high school being the highest, while others funded through charter funds may have little to no expenses due to curriculum costs being covered through school funding."
Because of the continued complaints parents have about public schooling, especially in major urban cities, Lewis, says the states will soon show more African-Americans opting for home schooling. "The trend will not only continue, but increase at a faster rate. Every parent cannot home school or afford private school and should not have to. That’s why we pay taxes," she says. "However, until public education is improved, it is pertinent that parents know their options."