As Public Schools Increasingly Fail Black Children, Many Black Parents Are Now Turning to Homeschooling

Were public schools always failing Black students? Many parents think so and are now turning to homeschooling as a solution.

It’s easy to think that families, schools, children, and life more generally has gone back to its pre-pandemic state. The truth is life will never be the same.

Many families were dissatisfied with mainstream education in the past, and their concerns were validated by the horrific impacts of the the pandemic on, particularly low-income and Black children in schools around the U.S. 

In fact, a new study published by the National Center for Education Statistics, a branch of the U.S. Education Department, confirms that math and reading scores for America’s 9-year olds fell dramatically during the first two years of the pandemic. “Reading scores saw their largest decrease in 30 years, while math scores had their first decrease in the history of the testing regimen behind the study,” notes the Associated Press, also adding that “students of color saw some of the steepest decreases, widening the racial achievement gap.”

According to the U,S. Census Household Pulse Survey, “In households where respondents identified as Black or African American (Table 1), the proportion homeschooling increased by five times, from 3.3% (April 23-May 5) to 16.1% in the fall (Sept. 30-Oct. 12).” “The 2020 Current Population Survey found 3.7M children in kindergarten, a drop of 359,000 in one year, and the lowest since 2002.” Black families saw a rise of more than 13% while all other racial groups noted an increase of only 4-6 percent. 

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

For some, pandemic protocol was a moment of realization for the blatant disregard of our childrens’ well-being. For example, the tendency of schools to disregard covid ratios and regulations in order to ensure receipt of attendance funds clearly communicated their belief that students are disposable or simply assets to be profited from. Despite being years into the digital era, virtual options in most districts was severely subpar.

Many districts struggled to execute a virtual option at all. Again, those who had the least resources to rapidly integrate digital curriculi were often poor, Black and BIPOC districts.

“The pandemic’s upheaval especially hurt students of color. Math scores dropped by 5 percentage points for white students, compared with 13 points for Black students and 8 points for Hispanic students. The divide between Black and white students widened by 8 percentage points during the pandemic,” noted the Associated Press.

“I homeschooled prior to the pandemic but confirmation to continue was watching the school system fall apart when the pandemic hit. The teachers were confused, the students, they used the no child left behind law a lot (in my personal opinion) because children pulling D’s still made it to the next grade. My step daughter was in the public school system and when I pulled her out, I had to reteach the grade they said she “graduated” from. She is now advanced based on public school systems grading scales as well as how I grade my children with high expectations.” – Tayjia Atkinson, Black Parent

Tayjia is one among many. Homeschool survey responses poured in with parents explaining the differences they are seeing. 

(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

“I’ve seen a greater improvement with my child learning and actually remembering what she learned. I was scared to lose one of my babies behind it because I’ve lost many people from it. Plus I have a child that was born just a couple weeks before the shutdown which raised even more fear.” – Alisha Jones

Colonization has created the idea that someone else setting expectations and structuring our day for us is somehow more beneficial for us than to listen to our own intuitions.

In a survey of 500 parents conducted by Los Angeles Unified parents, Speak Up — 82% of Black parents cited COVID as a reason not to return to in-person schooling, and 43% cited bullying, racism, and low academic standards.

This obstruction of creativity has hindered the future of our children through herding, rather than nurturing. Parents are growing tired of schools not prioritizing their children; and the flexibility of homeschooling is what produces results. 

“When I think about the fact that I am able to control what he is learning, and the fact that I can tailor his lessons to fit his academic needs, it’s a no brainer.  In addition, I feel like school dims the light of children in a lot of cases.  Since he is home, he is able to be himself fully and take the time out to learn more about things that are actually of interest to him,” Jennifer Yvette. 

“It also allows you to find your child’s talent which is often discovered between ages 1-5 and help them on the path to be great at that,” Tayjia Atkinson. 

(FG Trade/Getty)

     In 2020, we reached a pivotal point in society that enabled us to begin to course correct the damage that has been done to our people. Fast-paced school culture has allowed bullying, racism, ableism, phobias, and mental health crises to inflict trauma on our children.

It seems there were so many families that realized the importance of using this opportunity to change the status quo of how we educate children, particularly those of color. Teachers attend university to be lectured on the importance of educating the whole child- just to graduate and be left in a room overflowing with children, given frivolous expectations, and a lack of time and resources that would even make that possible for everyone. We see where that has gotten us- a record breaking occurrence where teachers are getting burned out and leaving education faster than ever.

 “I experienced a bit of a classroom setting as a child (unfortunately, a lot of the negative things like bullying, not enough teacher attention, boredom and social anxiety, etc.) and thought homeschooling was far better. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve seen more and more problems with the American school system. When you think about the big picture, it can be very unnatural to shove a bunch of kids, all the same age but with hugely different backgrounds and life experiences, into the same room, where one harried school teacher after another is supposed to keep order for hours at a time.” – Shanxi Upsdell Omoniyi

Individualizing the education of each student in a classroom of 20 plus children, all with different backgrounds and experiences, is virtually impossible. This is particularly more difficult in the younger, adult-dependent primary grades. I mainstream education- the curriculum can only be delivered on a basic level out of respect for pacing guides and testing deadlines. States and local districts are requiring the majority of school hours be spent on math and language arts, leaving less time for science or social studies. Not to mention the lack of life skill education. 

Additionally, with teaching topics requiring approval and books being removed from student access, many Black parents have now taken their own transformative approach. They are no longer accepting white-washed material, and are instead awakening their children to their true history. They are no longer allowing standards and stigmas to hinder their children. Homeschooling offers the security of a healthy environment designed for growth. 

 “My son is an only child.  When he was 3, I enrolled him in a local private pre school so that he could be around other kids.  At that point, he was already reading and able to spell.  He was very precocious intellectually but sheltered as well.  Without his teachers knowing his abilities, they automatically tried to label him and insisted I get him evaluated for ASD. Without any further discussion, I pulled him out and decided that he had to be homeschooled because I refused to allow them to label my Black son.  Fast forward to today, my 5 year old just completed his 1st grade year, and is reading at the 5th grade level according to placement tests.” – Jennifer Yvette

Protecting our children from disease, misinformation, trauma, & abuse at the hands of society can be challenging, but well worth the sweat. They need to be heard when they directly or indirectly express a need. Giving them freedom and autonomy over themselves is absolutely essential.

Progress isn’t lost when we pull out kids away from public school , it can awaken new possibilities. 


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