The Rise of Black Homeschooling

LAUSD, run by unions and Progressive Democrats has a problem.  The Progressives have claimed that government schools are systemically racist.  The parents know the schools do not teach, they promote radical sexual and political theories instead.  The nutty math people are now claiming doing your homework or getting right answer on math questions is PROOF of white supremacy.  So, black parents want out.

“Most of the parents told Fields-Smith that the decision had been wrenching. Winning access to public education was one of the central victories of the civil-rights movement. Several parents had relatives who saw homeschooling as “a slap in the face” to the legacy of Brown v. Board of Education. Others worried about harming their neighbors’ children, because public schools rely on per-pupil funding from state governments. (In 2020, around seventy per cent of Detroit public-school revenues came from per-student allocations by the state.)

Still, the parents said that they felt as if they’d had no choice, with eighty per cent citing pervasive racism and inequities. Even in the wealthy families, parents said that their kids were frequently punished or seen as troublemakers. In some cases, students had been inappropriately recommended for special-education classes or medication; other students were bullied. In a study conducted in 2010 by professors from Temple University and Montgomery County Community College, homeschooling parents said that they thought Black Americans had been tricked into fighting for integration. “Somebody put in our heads that being around your own kind was the worst thing in the world. How you need to be in better neighborhoods, in neighborhoods where people don’t want you, in schools where people don’t want to teach you,” a mother in Virginia, who was homeschooling two children, said.

The Liberals/Democrats version of integration was to put kids in failed schools with the right color of kids in the classroom—education was not a part of the integration process.  In the end, children of all colors have been failed due to the misplaced priority.  Glad to see black families cutting the chains of slavery from government schools.  Free at last, free at last.

The Rise of Black Homeschooling

Often underserved by traditional schools, Black families are banding together to educate their children, sometimes with an unexpected funding source: the Koch family and other conservative donors.

By Casey Parks, New Yorker, 6/14/21 

TO SEE COMPLETE STORY CLICK ON BLUE HEADLINE

When Victoria Bradley was in fifth grade, she started asking her mother, Bernita, to homeschool her. Bernita wasn’t sure where the idea came from—they never saw homeschooling on TV. But something always seemed to be going wrong at school for Victoria. In second grade, a teacher lost track of her during parent pickup, and she wandered off school grounds. Bernita went to see the principal, intent on getting the teacher fired. The principal asked if she would consider taking an AmeriCorps position at the school. Bernita cut back her hours at the hair salon she owned and started doing community outreach, assisting teachers and hosting parent meetings.

In 2011, Bernita moved her family—which also included her older son, Carlos—to Detroit’s East English neighborhood, where she bought a three-story, yellow brick house for twelve thousand dollars. Victoria, then in fourth grade, transferred to Brenda Scott Academy, where two girls began bullying her. One wrote “I’m fat” in black pen on the back of Victoria’s shirt. On another occasion, one of the girls spit at Victoria. She screamed at them, and was suspended. (That year, administrators suspended three hundred and forty Black students, or forty-two per cent of the school’s Black population, and another sixteen Black girls were arrested there.)

Victoria moved to a top-rated charter school, where she lasted only a few months—she said that an administrator picked on certain Black students. By fifth grade, Victoria had attended five schools, and she was tired of being the new kid. She brought up homeschooling when she was reprimanded for having blue braids, and again in eighth grade, after some boys dared each other to try picking her up as she sat at her desk. Homeschooling, she said, would allow her to learn at her own pace, without anyone making fun of her. Bernita was sympathetic, but she told Victoria that she couldn’t teach her. She was a single mom, and she’d never completed her college degree.

For high school, Victoria enrolled in a majority-white charter school. Before the coronavirus pandemic shuttered Detroit’s school system, which serves about fifty-three thousand children, she had failed chemistry and barely passed algebra. Soon after school went remote, in March, 2020, Victoria asked Bernita if she could drop out and take a job doing nails.

During the first months of lockdown, Bernita, who works as an educational consultant, spent hours each day talking to other parents of students in the Detroit system on Zoom and Facebook. One mother told her that she had shut herself in the bathroom to cry after overhearing teachers berate her children on Microsoft Teams. Others told Bernita they’d only just discovered that their kids had been performing below grade level. (Before the pandemic, six per cent of Detroit’s fourth graders met proficiency benchmarks in math, and seven per cent in reading, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress.)

Early one evening last July, before Victoria’s senior year, Bernita and Victoria pulled into their driveway and found that a container of dish soap they’d bought at Sam’s Club had spilled in the trunk. While Bernita bailed out the soap using a three-ring binder and some old rags, Victoria looked down the cracked driveway and pointed at a swarm of fireflies. “What makes them glow?” she asked.

Bernita watched Victoria chase the fireflies around the yard for a few minutes. This, she thought, was what a Black kid’s life should feel like—happy and unencumbered. She told Victoria to find a Mason jar. They ran through the grass until Victoria had trapped a single glowing insect. Afterward, they sat on their stoop, researching the specimen on Victoria’s phone. They learned that the bugs belong to the family Lampyridae, and that a bioluminescent enzyme makes them glow.

As Victoria scrolled, Bernita laughed. “You do know this is homeschooling, right?” she asked.

Victoria looked up from her phone. The fireflies lit up around them. “Really?” she asked.

“Yep,” Bernita said. “This is homeschooling. This is science. We about to do this for real.”

Black families have only recently turned to homeschooling in significant numbers. The Census Bureau found that, by October, 2020, the nationwide proportion of homeschoolers—parents who had withdrawn their children from public or private schools and taken full control of their education—had risen to more than eleven per cent, from five per cent at the start of the pandemic. For Black families, the growth has been sharper. Around three per cent of Black students were homeschooled before the pandemic; by October, the number had risen to sixteen per cent.

Few researchers have studied Black homeschoolers, but in 2009 Cheryl Fields-Smith, an associate professor at the University of Georgia’s Mary Frances Early College of Education, published a study of two dozen such families in and around Atlanta. Some parents were middle class or wealthy, and wanted more challenging curricula for their children. Others hadn’t attended college and earned less than fifteen thousand dollars a year; one family lived in a housing project.

Most of the parents told Fields-Smith that the decision had been wrenching. Winning access to public education was one of the central victories of the civil-rights movement. Several parents had relatives who saw homeschooling as “a slap in the face” to the legacy of Brown v. Board of Education. Others worried about harming their neighbors’ children, because public schools rely on per-pupil funding from state governments. (In 2020, around seventy per cent of Detroit public-school revenues came from per-student allocations by the state.)

Still, the parents said that they felt as if they’d had no choice, with eighty per cent citing pervasive racism and inequities. Even in the wealthy families, parents said that their kids were frequently punished or seen as troublemakers. In some cases, students had been inappropriately recommended for special-education classes or medication; other students were bullied. In a study conducted in 2010 by professors from Temple University and Montgomery County Community College, homeschooling parents said that they thought Black Americans had been tricked into fighting for integration. “Somebody put in our heads that being around your own kind was the worst thing in the world. How you need to be in better neighborhoods, in neighborhoods where people don’t want you, in schools where people don’t want to teach you,” a mother in Virginia, who was homeschooling two children, said.

Bernita and Victoria first encountered a Black homeschooling family in 2015, when Victoria was in seventh grade and attending an after-school music class with a girl named Zwena Gray. Zwena’s mother, Kija, had worked for many years as a substitute teacher in the University Prep School charter system. Most schools, in her view, prioritize whiteness—the kids are taught about white politicians and white inventors, and teachers and Black children are pushed toward compliance rather than creativity. Kija’s son, Kafele, was frequently bullied. When he was in eighth grade, administrators at the charter school he was attending threatened to suspend him for not tucking in his shirt. Kija decided to homeschool him, and later Zwena, who was then in fifth grade. The children enrolled in online courses; Kija spent less time substitute teaching, and her husband, who works for the Detroit Health Department, also helped. Kafele returned to the charter school in eleventh grade, but Zwena never went back to school.

When we talked in her dining room, Kija was baking cinnamon pound cakes to sell. As she described her journey from charter-school teacher to homeschool enthusiast, she drew a Biblical parallel: “Satan was the closest thing to God, and he saw this shit for what it was, and he was, like, ‘Oh, hell no.’ He started to question things, and that’s what made him cast out, because he didn’t have blind faith—he had critical faith.”

Bernita was astonished by what Kija had achieved with her children. Zwena had built robots, written code for Web sites, and designed her own clothes. But Kija had a bachelor’s degree and a background in teaching. Bernita still couldn’t see homeschooling as an option for Victoria.

In early 2020, an online acquaintance of Bernita’s, Keri Rodrigues, a former labor organizer in Massachusetts and the president of a new organization called the National Parents Union, persuaded her to begin hosting a weekly forum for parents on Facebook Live. At the beginning of June, Bernita invited Kija on as a guest. It was a week after the police officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd in Minneapolis; thousands of people were protesting in downtown Detroit. The parents who spoke in the Facebook forum connected the uprising for racial justice with their experiences in the educational system. One mother said that she had tried many public and private schools; at all of them, the front office was filled with Black boys awaiting discipline.

In the summer of 2020, Victoria’s mother, Bernita, launched a homeschooling collective called Engaged Detroit.

Tesha Jordan, a single mother who works for Head Start, said that she’d been urged to transfer her son out of his middle school after his behavioral issues had scared a teacher. Jordan’s son has a learning disability, and she worried that if she homeschooled him he would lose out—the state gave his middle school money for a social worker to help him with his homework twice a week. “I’m not a teacher,” Jordan said. “I’m just a mother.”

Kija, watching from her living room, unmuted herself. “When I heard you say they had a behavioral problem—or you were told that—the thing that came to mind for me was, all Black people have a behavioral problem. It’s called trauma,” she said. “And when you said, ‘I’m not a teacher, I’m a mother’—those two things are synonymous.”

The modern homeschooling movement in America was ignited in the nineteen-sixties, after Supreme Court decisions in 1962 and 1963 prohibited school prayer and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed racial segregation in public institutions. Although homeschooling attracted some left-leaning hippies during the sixties and seventies, by the nineteen-eighties its most vocal and influential supporters were white Christian conservatives, according to Heath Brown, an associate professor of public policy at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the author of the recent book “Homeschooling the Right: How Conservative Education Activism Erodes the State.”

Most of the earliest homeschooling textbooks were written from a Christian perspective, and some were racist. Bob Jones University, the private South Carolina college that refused to admit Black students until 1971, began issuing homeschooling textbooks through its press later that decade. “United States History for Christian Schools,” first published in 1991, stated that most slaveholders treated enslaved people well, and that slavery “is an excellent example of the far-reaching consequences of sin. The sin in this case was greed—greed on the part of African tribal leaders.”

Arlin and Rebekah Horton, who met at Bob Jones University, went on to found what became Abeka, a Christian publisher that produces some of the country’s most popular homeschooling materials. Abeka’s “America: Land I Love,” for eighth graders, first published in 1996 and now in its third edition, argued that slavery allowed Black people to find Jesus. Abeka’s eleventh-grade textbook “United States History: Heritage of Freedom,” first published in 1983 and now in its fourth edition, claimed that the Ku Klux Klan only occasionally resorted to violence. A 2018 investigation by the Orlando Sentinel found that Abeka was still producing textbooks stating that “the slave who knew Christ had more freedom than a free person who did not know the Savior.”

Early supporters of homeschooling wanted as little government intervention as possible and advocated against legislative proposals that would have sent money their way, Brown told me. “It was a bargain they were unwilling to take,” he said. “In exchange for small amounts of funding, they would be subject to the things they fear most, which was having to adhere to a set of standardized educational schooling practices, on everything from teacher certification to testing to curricular choice.”

In 1983, a group of white evangelical lawyers formed the Home School Legal Defense Association, to represent homeschooling parents who’d been arrested for not sending their children to school. When officers arrested two farmers in Michigan who’d been educating their children at home without a license, the H.S.L.D.A. spent nearly a decade fighting their case. In 1993, the state’s Supreme Court ruled that homeschooling parents in Michigan did not need to be certified. (Michael Farris, the founding president of the H.S.L.D.A. and its board chairman, is now head of the conservative Christian nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom, which in recent years has pushed for a series of anti-gay and anti-trans bills.)

The H.S.L.D.A. offers grants directly to coöperatives formed by homeschooling parents; after the number of homeschoolers spiked during the pandemic, it doubled its grant dollars for this year, to $1.3 million. As the number of Black and Latino homeschooling families has grown, the group has attempted to diversify its membership and staff. All but one of its lawyers are white, but it recently hired several Black and Latino consultants. LaNissir James, who has seven children, ranging in age from five to twenty-three, and who is based in Maryland but “roadschools” across multiple states in her R.V., started working as a high-school educational consultant for the H.S.L.D.A. in 2019. Families “first need to understand the law,” she said, because homeschooling regulations vary widely from state to state. Then James interviews parents to assess their children’s academic needs. “Are Mom and Dad working? Is Mom home? Do they want to be online? You find their strengths and weaknesses so that you can find a curriculum that matches that family.”

For Black families like James’s, the ability to improvise a curriculum is a major reason to try homeschooling. “We are not seeing ourselves in textbooks,” she said. “I love traditional American history, but I like to take my kids to the Museum of African American History and Culture and say, O.K., here’s what was going on with Black people in 1800.” There are now hundreds of curricula to choose from, available on free or inexpensive Web sites such as Khan Academy and Outschool. Last year, one of the most popular offerings on Outschool was a course called Black History from a Decolonized Perspective, taught by Iman Alleyne, a former schoolteacher in Fort Lauderdale, who turned to homeschooling after her elementary-age son told her that school made him want to die.

James said that some of her Black clients need to know that homeschooling is something other Black families do. “That’s a normal feeling,” she told me. “And the answer is yes. There is joy for Black homeschoolers who find out about other Black homeschoolers.”

In August, 2020, Bernita applied for and won a twenty-five-thousand-dollar grant from Keri Rodrigues’s group, the National Parents Union, to fund a homeschooling collective called Engaged Detroit. She hired Kija and two other Black homeschooling mothers, at thirty-five dollars an hour, to coach a group of twelve parents, and used the remaining money to buy software, laptops, and other supplies.

TO SEE COMPLETE STORY CLICK ON BLUE HEADLINE

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.

Comments

  1. Rottweiler says

    Thank goodness they finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Just remember on your worst day of homeschooling your child will be so much brighter, less anxiety and you will be finding a whole community of diverse lovely people who share your enthusiasm for doing the best for your most precious commodity, your beautiful child! The government could care less, giving them awful common core to make certain they remain mediocre. The only interest the government has in your child is the amount they get paid daily for your child’s attendance. We started in 4th grade and never looked back. It was a journey but FUN. We only had 3 days of school but year round, less stressful. You can travel and pay 1/2 price because you can take vacations when the public schools are in session. You can test if you like what they use in public schools just to make sure you are on board but believe me your child will be grade levels above public schools. Good luck it was the best time we as a family had spending quality time with your child and learning to boot. Always help and always resources available. Don’t let public school kowtow you into thinking you can’t teach because believe me you can! I live in Los Angeles and was quite successful driving the short distance to Torrance to hang with other great family, sharing the load.

  2. Happy for homeschooling whatever its forms–in the aggregate it’s a good thing, even I disagree with some of it. The idea behind integration was that nbody should be denied entry tp public schools based on race. But what if someone wanted all black schools? Those sghould be private. The problem is that with givernment funding, even private schools are somewhat public. Jewish schools would be in violation of federal and state law for not allowing non-Jews.

    The things cited as perhaps racist are really just one deaf and not coming from the right people. The Egyptians don’t get to say that Jewish slavery was part of G-d’s plan. The murderous barbarians in Europe don’t get to say the blood libels are payback for Joseph’s treatment by his brothers. Titus didn’t get to say he was nigh on committing genocide because of Jewish sin. That’s ony for Jews to say. Siimilarly, sure Blacks should recognize that other African tribes sold them into slavery for the rapacious global slave trade, but that’s not something that European Americans should be saying. The African chieftains committed many sins, but closer to home the European Americans did as well.

    And it IS true from a religious perspective that godless freemen are less free than devout slaves. It just needs to be told correctly. That is, focus on the sinfulness of the slaveholders who mistreated their slaves and did not subjugate themselved to G-d rather than the “freedom” of the slaves. And analogize to the Jews in Egypt (although Jewish sources admit that the Jews weren’t very “free” either having taken on much of the Egyptian sinfulness).

    Anyway, I hear there is much to be gained from African Americans teaching African Americans, and I don’t know why they can’t form charter schools that will be largely free of Europan Americans, but yet they’ll get in trouble discriminating in hiring only African Americans. Perhaps homeschooling groups is the only way to go.

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