A parent has asked me to write a post on why African-American children should be homeschooled. This parent is a white mother of a bi-racial child. I do a workshop on this very subject and feel very passionate about it. If you are considering homeschooling your children, check out my book here. You can also see my video at the bottom of this post.
This post is long but stick with me as I lay it out for you.
Why Black Kids Should be Homeschooled, Reason 1 - Inherent bias creates low expectations for African-American children
Everywhere you look, you can find reports about how Black children suffer from the achievement gap. These pervasive reports lead to an overall expectation, that turns into a latent bias, that all black kids are low achievers. At some point, the latent bias can turn into an active bias. But whether the bias is latent or not, teachers who hold these biases will always expect less from Black children. And unfortunately, most educators hold these biases.
When you educate your children at home, you can attend to all the subjects in a nurturing, unbiased environment. In your home, your child knows that they are expected to learn and they know that you have full confidence in their ability to grasp the material.
When you educate your children at home, they know that you love them and that you expect them to be successful.
When you educate your children at home, you can close the achievement gap because you do not expect there to be one in the first place.
Why Black Kids should be Homeschooled, Reason 2 – Schools have outsourced student discipline issues to law enforcement, a move that has a disparate impact on African-American students and has created the school-to-prison pipeline
The school-to-prison pipeline refers to the system whereby children are moved from the public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.
Most people know that the 13th amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude. What most people do not know is that those rights do not apply when a person is being punished for a crime. That’s right. Exempted from the 13 amendment’s prohibition of forced labor are people who have been convicted of crimes.
A person who has been convicted of a crime can be forced into compulsory, unpaid labor or else face punishment while in custody.
In effect, with the rise of incarceration among Blacks, we are voluntarily allowing ourselves to be enslaved. Despite all the blood and tears that were shed for us so that we could escape enslavement, our Black children are reverting right back to the slave state.
Schools are even beginning to look more like prisons. With the rise of metal detectors, surveillance cameras, pat-downs and searches by “resource officers”, the presence of police dogs and other accoutrements that were traditionally used only for the most violent criminals, students are interacting with police during a formative period of their lives. Students’ early involvement with law enforcement often shapes their lifelong attitudes and paves a path toward the criminal justice system. See article here.
Indeed, as I write this, the Trump administration is considering rolling back the student discipline guidance that was issued by the Obama administration to address racial disparities in school discipline. Specifically, the advice that school discipline should discourage resource officers from disciplining students and push for more positive and less punitive responses to student behavior. This means that the Trump administration is seeking to undo efforts to keep Black students in school and out of the criminal justice system. See article here.
The presence of police officers in schools has the effect of creating criminal situations where 20 years ago, none existed. For example, a classroom disruption that in 1990 would have simply led to a trip to the principal’s office is now escalated to a school resource officer, who handles the classroom disruption as if it were criminal activity. So instead of being sent to the principal’s office, the children involved are now being handled and processed by a police officer. What was once a routine school disruption may now lead to an arrest and even a trip to jail.
Why Black Kids Should Be Homeschooled, Reason 3 – Excessive Discipline
The trip to jail for what used to be a minor issue leads to Black students, who are disproportionately the recipients of this harsh discipline, spending less time in school, where they could receive an education, and more time in the criminal justice at very young ages.
Researchers have found that high school students who are suspended at least once in a single year of school are at higher risk of dropping out. High school dropouts are then more likely to be involved in the criminal justice system. In fact, additional researchers found that suspension as a behavioral deterrent does not even appear to be effective. See article here.
At the time of this writing, lawmakers have introduced a bill that would withhold federal funding from schools that 1) do not report all disciplinary action to law enforcement or that 2) discourage law enforcement from arresting students.
The problem with these policies is that they affect Black students disproportionately in comparison to their white peers. Any parent of a Black child should find these trends disturbing. In fact, parents of all children should find this trend disturbing because it creates a criminal population where one otherwise might not exist. These policies affect all of us.
Girls are Also Affected
And if you think that these grim statistics only affect Black boys, you are wrong. Indeed, a report from the National Women’s Law Center has found that “Black girls are twice a likely as white girls to be suspended – in every state – and it’s not because of more frequent or more serious behavior.” See article here.
Much of the disparate treatment of Black girls is due to deeply ingrained racism and sexist stereotypes that educators harbor against black girls. For example, Black girls are often perceived as “angry” or “aggressive.” Additionally, Black girls are often stereotyped as promiscuous or hyper-sexualized. Yet, Black girls are often punished for what may be perceived as non-feminine behavior like being candid, assertive or talking back.
Black girls are also more likely than their peers to be suspended for dress code violations. See article here.
The report also found that Black girls are more likely to receive multiple suspensions than any other gender or race of students. As with boys, the disproportionate discipline toward black girls begins as early as preschool.
Studies by the Departmet of Education and the Center on Poverty and Inequality at the Georgetown University Law and the American Psychological Association agree that another prevailing perception of black girls is that they are less innocent, less in need of protection and less in need of nurturing than white girls.
Educators perceive black girls as older than their white peers, which also leads to stiffer punishment. Unfortunately, this “adultification” of black girls is another reason why experts believe black girls are punished more severely than their white peers. Similarly, Black boys as young as 10 are more likely to mistaken as older and perceived as guilty of a crime. See article here.
The National Black Women’s Justice Institute found that black girls were seven times more likely than white girls to receive out-of-school suspension. In fact, the Institute found that while black girls made up only 16 percent of the national female population, 28 percent of them were physically restrained, 43 percent were referred to law enforcement and 38 percent were arrested. See article here.
The thing to remember here is that these disciplinary measures are not necessarily for serious offenses. A Stanford University study concludes that Black Students are punished more harshly for the same offenses committed by white students. In that study, teachers were more likely to increase punishment for a student with a Black sounding name. They also imagined that those presumably black students would be suspended in the future due to a perceived pattern of behavior. The study further concludes that the disproportionate punishment is doled out by black teachers as well as white. See article here.
Middle Class Black Students Are also Affected
Do you think being black and middle class exempts your children from this type of treatment? Again, you would be wrong. Parents enroll their Black children into elite independent schools and high performing suburban schools in order to provide their children with networking, job and school opportunities that allow white students to excel in the professional world. However, in reality, black children receive a different type of education and experience than their white peers.
For an eye opening look at the experience of two black boys, see the documentary American Promise. The documentary follows two boys admitted in kindergarten to New York’s The Dalton School, an elite independent school.
The question then becomes “What can the parent of a black student do to combat the zero-tolerance and school as prison trend.” You can certainly try talking to school administrators. You can attend board meetings. You can even contact your congressperson and voice your opinion about proposed legislation. But the bottom line is, parents of black children must decide whether this prisonlike environment and the push towards criminalizing normal student behavior is an atmosphere to which they want their children exposed.
Why Black Kids Should Be Homeschooled, Reason 4 – Black history can be taught in a more robust, accurate and inclusive manner
What do schools teach kids about Black history? That Black people were victims of the transatlantic slave trade? That they were victims of post-civil war mistreatment and Jim Crow laws that led to the lynching and flagrant murder of Black people? That Black people had fire hoses and dogs trained on them during the Civil Rights movement? In short, Black history begins with the transatlantic slave trade and Africans’ arrival in North America and covers mostly Black suffering and hardship on American soil. Throw in a few Black inventors and Civil Rights leaders, and that's your Black history month program in a bag.
Now, what do schools teach kids about European-American history? Kids learn about the “great” Roman empire, the Greeks, Great Britain as a superpower, the Spanish and their Navy, the French and their military. Kids learn all about European kings and queens. European conquest. They learn all about European culture and religion before Europeans ever stepped foot in North America.
Why the disparity between the timeline of Black folks’ history versus white folks’ history?
When you teach your black children at home, you can incorporate Black and African history into every timeline that is taught in school. Or, you can choose to teach only African and Black history. Or, you can choose to teach only the Eurocentric history required to pass “the test” and focus the rest of your time on Black and African history.
Because it is important for Black kids to know where they came from. This is something the schools will never teach them.
If you want to learn more about a BETTER way to teach Black history, see my download here.
Why Black Kids Should Be Homeschooled, Reason 5 – The schools are not serving Black kids anyway
Being successful in school has become less about learning and more about following rules with military precision. If a Black student steps out of line, they are punished with the full extent of school, and now, law enforcement, authority.
Black children are more likely to be tracked into special classes, whether or not it is necessary. And once in the special track, it is extremely difficult to get out.
Teachers have lower expectations for Black achievement and those lowered expectations become an insidious, unspoken pall that affects both teacher’s and administrators’ interactions with Black children, as well as the way Black children feel about themselves and their own abilities.
The Case for Homeschooling Black Children is Made
When we homeschool our Black children, they are no longer subjected to the overt and covert racism, the intrinsic bias or low expectations to which they are subject in a traditional school setting. We are able to keep our children on track because we, above anyone else, care about the success of our children. We are able to cultivate our children’s strengths and interests and help them to explore things they are good at while nurturing their weaknesses in a supportive environment.
We can come up with various excuses for why we cannot parent our children effectively. And there is no denying that some family situations are more difficult to manage than others. However, the choice seems obvious when our choice is to either make sacrifices and become an organized planner versus watching our child being led away in chains for years, or even a lifetime, of enslavement.
The case for homeschooling Black children cannot be denied. Now that the case been presented, the question becomes “What will you do about it?
If you want to learn more about how to start homeschooling, see my book here.
Here is my video on the topic: