The Christian Science Monitor has an interesting article describing how the number of black children being homeschooled in the United States has doubled in the last ten years, from about 100,000 to 220,000. The reasons given are the same as the reasons white families give, either to keep their kids out of rotten academics or to insulate them a little from a crass and vulgar youth culture. Some parents also want to give their kids a more Afro-centric education, others feel their kids are discriminated against. It does seem that the homeschooled kids are doing better than their publicly educated peers.
Of course the public school “system” has its defenders, mostly people who are either ideologically attached to or economically dependent on government schools. And to be honest some public schools are good, but many are mediocre and a shocking number simply piss-poor at educating children. There is no reason to think a factory based model (kids as products, teachers as unionized labor, bells, lunch lines, etc) cooked up in the 19th century would be functional today, or that it fits all circumstances. For their entire history public schools have failed black students, so why not try something new?
On barrier to blacks undertaking homeschooling is single-parent households, which are the majority among blacks. The typical homeschooling family the mother does not work, but educates the children, while the father’s job supports the family (which explains why homeschoolers are often noticeably poorer than other families). In the state of Georgia however, where homeschooling is little regulated and one does not have to be a parent of the children he or she is teaching, black women form large networks so they can rotate teaching duties while they also hold down jobs.
And that of course will be the achilles-heel of the homeschooling movement among blacks: it would be very easy for Georgia politicians to do a favor for the teacher’s unions and regulate these homeschooling mothers out of business.
Wither homeschooling? It took a lot of court battles in the 70s and 80s for parents to educate their children that way, and the public schools have always seen homeschooling as a threat. The movement has been safe and growing for the last generation, along with the proliferation of small private schools. Have these educational movements reached critical mass to the point that they can’t be bullied? Or as they grow will they be seen as an ever greater threat to the public factory model?