By Ryan Velez
According to information from the National Center For Education Statistics, the total amount of students homeschooled is around 2 million. Between 5% and 10% of these are black. Ama Mazama, a professor of African-American studies at Temple University, also confirms that “Black home-schooling is definitely on the rise.
While more black students may be getting homeschooled, the reasons why are very different than the norm. The majority of black homeschoolers are coming from urban, two-parent households. And while the majority white parents are looking to homeschooling for religious reasons, the most common reason given by black families is racism.
NPR says that this is a huge surprise, given that while black people are the most religious subgroup in America, it didn’t rank even second or third in terms of reasons why families are looking for homeschooling. Some stories given by black homeschoolers may provide insight behind this trend.
Camille Kirksey says that in the beginning, homeschooling wasn’t even on her radar, but her son’s experience in a private pre-K school began the shift. “It was a mostly black school with mostly white teachers, which didn’t really bother me until I saw the difference in how they treated certain kids — especially boys,” she says. “They seemed to be very harsh, kinda barking at them, ordering them around.” She added that Brandon’s teacher “didn’t really treat anybody nicely.” After seeing a Facebook post about an African-American homeschooling family, she quit her job of 10 years and began teaching.
One of the things Kirksey enjoys about her new role is the opportunity she has to teach a version of history to her son more inclusive of their ancestors. In time, she found a local home-school co-op where many other families are black. However, she says that in addition to addressing racism concerns, the move to homeschooling allowed her to create a closer, stronger family.