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Education Innovation
The Many Reasons to Homeschool

There are as many reasons to homeschool as there are reasons to distrust the public school system. According to The Hechinger Report, African-American families have started to embrace homeschooling and now make up 10 percent of the homeschooling population. Many teach their children at home to protect them from racism, and also, as one scholar says, schools’ lower standards for black students. More:

In a 2012 report published in the Journal of Black Studies, she surveyed black homeschooling families from around the country and found most chose to educate their children at home, at least in part, to avoid school-related racism. [Temple University faculty member Ama] Mazama calls this rationale “racial protectionism” and said it is a response to the inability of schools to meet the needs of black students.

“We have all heard that the American education system is not the best and is falling behind in terms of international standards,” she said. “But this is compounded for black children, who are treated as though they are not as intelligent and cannot perform as well, and therefore the standards for them should be lower.”

We’ve noted before that homeschooling is on the rise as Americans lose trust in the experts that run the American school system. For religious people, that distrust stems from their belief that schools don’t respect their values. Silicon Valley entrepreneurial types think they can disrupt education and create better approaches on their own. According to this piece, African Americans increasingly distrust schools as well. It’s not just because of low expectations either—some families quoted in the piece think their kids don’t get as complete an education in African American history in public schools as they should. Distrust in experts, cultural pluralism, dissatisfaction with current institutions, DIY-ism: some of the biggest trends reshaping America are at play in the rise of homeschooling.

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  • iconoclast

    Some arguments for home schooling:

    The home-educated typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests.

    Home-educated students typically score above average on the SAT and ACT tests that colleges consider for admissions.

    Whether homeschool parents were ever certified teachers is not related to their children’s academic achievement.

    I suppose that some of the reason for home schooling success is that parents, much more than government schools, are committed to their children’s success.

    • qet

      If the SAT etc. scores of home-schooled black children do in fact rise appreciably, then the publicly offered justifications (the schools fail black kids because they assume they aren’t smart enough to learn) will have proved to have some merit. But one really wonders if the kind of kids from families that would take the trouble to home school them in subjects like calculus and physics are the ones underperforming in their schools. My sense of home schooling families of all races is that their primary motivation is cultural/ideological/psychological. Their main complaint against their local public schools isn’t against the quality of calculus and physics instruction but against the content of the history, literature and social studies instruction. If anyone here is a home schooler and I am way off base, please advise.

      Also, given the well-reported state of the “black family” in America, how will home schooling work with just a single parent who presumably must work, and who presumably, since s/he herself/himself was previously disserved by the public schools, does not seem likely herself/himself to possess the necessary education to educate another? Please note that I am making assumptions here, that I believe to be plausible, but they are still only assumptions. Not trying to discredit people generally or anything like that.

      • An_A_C

        Someone I know has organized a group of tutors for home schoolers. The tutors may teach one or more subjects at one or more grade levels. Parents contract, or pay, for a semester-long course in one or more of these subjects. Parents teach the rest. Most of the tutors heavily depend on parent involvement to get the student to complete a course successfully. Also, in many – not all – states, community colleges teach many of the courses necessary for admission to college, like high school algebra, high school chemistry, etc. These programs were originally intended for high school dropouts who are now adults and want to complete their education and go on to college. Many states also allow high school students or students that meet the community college academic requirements to take courses at community colleges. So parents in many states don’t need to worry about whether or not they know calculus well enough to teach it, there are alternative means to learn these subjects. There are networks of home schooling parents and plenty of links to resources, both individuals and websites and corporation (like textbook publishers) which support home school parents. This networking is how they succeed so well.

  • Corlyss

    Black families are homeschooling at increasing rates.

    • FriendlyGoat

      There is always the possibility that “protect them from racism” means more than protecting black children from being dissed by white children and adults. For some black families, it could mean protecting them from being over-exposed to the attitudes and ideas of other blacks in the urban culture. Black parents can be just as concerned about their kids not emulating bad black kids as whites are about their children not emulating bad white kids.

      • Klejdys

        “and found most chose to educate their children at home, at least in part, to avoid school-related racism”

        You call it “racism”, I call it being surrounded by dick heads. And among lower IQs, the propensity for being a dickhead rises. I call that the “Dickhead Principle”.

      • Corlyss

        “it could mean protecting them from being over-exposed to the attitudes and ideas of other blacks”

        You’re right. It could be that but I doubt it. May I be permitted my skepticism? So often inner city blacks seem to be the ones who cling most tightly to their blackness in a way that is not only self-destructive but dooms their kids as well for generations to come. These are precisely the kind of folks that gave rise to the Black Social Workers movement to make it impossible for whites to adopt black kids. We didn’t see this in the pre-war black America, before a lot of social trends took hold. Moynihan spotted the dangers in 1965 and was Mau-Maued for his efforts. But I take your point.

    • MLJ

      Well, black or white, if you are zoned for a failing school, options are limited. You can homeschool, live with the awful school you are zoned for, try to scrape together money for a private school, or get lotteried into a charter–if you are lucky. If a child is from a two-parent home and does not have behavior problems, their parents don’t want them in a failing school surrounded by gangs and other drop outs. Also, children who are bused to other schools really do get treated differently, with lowered expectations. Given those options, black families that are socially together, but too poor to move, would do well to home school.

      • Corlyss

        “Given those options, black families that are socially together, but too poor to move, would do well to home school.”

        But what do parents like that have to offer but more of the same poor marginal education and how can they afford to lose one earner from the family income? I mean, it’s been sometime since I trolled the literature to find impartial, non-partisan scientific papers on the benefits and disadvantages of home-schooling, and I’d love to read something statistically encouraging about black homeschooling, if you know of any such articles.

  • GS

    Well, the best one could do would be to wait for a few years, and then to see what this Hechinger report has to say on the results obtained. Somehow I do not think they would be jumping up with an un-edited analysis.

  • Andrew Allison

    I believe it was in a TAI post that I read something to the effect that because bad teachers can’t be fired, they end up teaching at schools minority majority schools. This appears to me to be a much more likely explanation of the poor results achieved than racism.

  • gabrielsyme

    I imagine the home-schooled black kids would be largely middle-class and living in majority-white or hispanic neighbourhoods. Such families (unlike the truly poor) have the resources to homeschool, and would have a stronger reason to worry about racism in the public schools (mainly from other kids).

    • Corlyss

      I agree, up to the point about “stronger reason to worry about racism from others.” IMO the #1 issue for low-to-middle income blacks is to get over theyselves. This country doesn’t owe them diddly because their ancestors may have been brought over here against their will, and they need to get out of that entitlement mindset so cleverly cultivated by the patronizing elites and propagandized relentlessly by the reparations claque and other racist pimps. Black commentator Larry Elder has written about the fact that currently the biggest racists in the country are blacks. They have been excused from it, and declared exempt from its consequences by our very own AG. The mindset dominates the black intellectuals and pundits with the exception of a handful that I can name on the fingers of one hand. The attraction of the litmus test for blackness is so powerful it even drags in blacks who owe NOTHING to the slave narrative, to wit Obama.

  • FriendlyGoat

    The biggest and best reasons for homeschooling are cultural. The more kids can be kept away from other crazy kids, crazy parents,
    stressed-out teachers, “no-tolerance” policies, school police, drugs, gangs, clothing issues, stupid gym classes, over-sexualization, and school politics, the better. Some kids will do very well with this, and others would suffer from a strange feeling of being imprisoned by their parents and left out of life. I tend to think that many parents may be asking older children which they prefer and acting accordingly.

    Curriculum tools are getting better and the trend for homeschooling will keep going up. That DOES NOT mean, however, that everyone can do it or should attempt it. Neither does it mean that anyone should entertain “giving up” on public schools.

  • Anthony

    American education resembles American health care to most Americans (no matter pigment designation) in that it serves a crucial purpose to the life of our nation’s citizens. Homeschooling has become another option posed against America’s traditional system; a system that has been attacked quite vociferously for better of two decades now. But as Friendly Goat mentions, homeschooling ought not be tried by all nor ought it be perceived as panacea (for blacks or others) to disappointment in traditional delivery of public education.

  • Diggsc

    Just what the US needs….more race-studies classes beginning in Kindergarten. Just how many years can one be taught about George Washington Carver?

  • louis_wheeler

    This is amusing. The left just can’t win, because the world defies them. I read a recent article where a Lesbian discovered, to her dismay, that her daughter has reverted to the mean. She plays with dolls and is boy crazy. She resists her mother’s sexist indoctrination.

    As Ringo Starr of the Beatles once said, “Everything the government touches turns to crap.” He should know as a poor Liverpool boy. In many locations, sending children to government schools is child abuse.

    Children start off wanting to learn. It takes a lot of effort to keep them from learning. They have to be locked up in a cage with children their own age who do not learn at their pace. That child is kept behind or pushed ahead of the pace that they need.

    This is the Prussian imperial schooling method which is designed to make children into interchangeable cogs in industry. No wonder it doesn’t work. It gets worse when black children are excused from learning because they considered less capable. They experience the soft bigotry of lower expectations.

    The Left don’t actually like the poor or the blacks; they just want to use them as weapons against their political opponents. So much the better, if the blacks are trained to be ignorant savages. A well educated black person might discover that Socialism doesn’t work and that conservatives aren’t all bigots or white.

    • Fred

      The Left don’t actually like the poor or the blacks; they just want to use them as weapons against their political opponents.

      I don’t think that’s quite fair. Of course, it depends on the individual leftist, and that kind of cynicism certainly exists on both sides of the political divide, but generally, the problem with the left is naiveté and hubris rather than cynicism. They apparently have no concept of the law of unintended consequences or of human nature. They truly believe they can direct and regulate an economy without choking it, redistribute wealth with no moral hazard, solve entrenched social problems without creating others, and through regulation and changing language change human nature itself. You must admit, it’s very compelling to believe you have that kind of godlike power and, like Superman, you are using it for good. The problem is that since they are not gods or supermen, their naiveté and hubris cause a lot of harm, and that looks like cynicism to more sober, rational people.

      • louis_wheeler

        There have been times when leftists, such as Obama, have thrown people under the bus when they became an embarrassment. If the left cared about the blacks they would have never created the welfare state.

        Margret Sanger, founder of planned parenthood, was an Eugenicist. She wanted the unfit to die out. The group she wanted to eliminate most was the blacks. Eugenics didn’t work, but the welfare state did. In the 60s, most blacks married and were moral people who had families. Welfare payments to unmarried mothers destroyed the black family, so that 70% of black children are born out of wedlock. The black men went to prison and on drugs, rather than marry and be responsible. The black family is so dysfunctional now, that all it does is produce whores and thugs, This was intentional on the left’s part.

        • Fred

          The black family is so dysfunctional now, that all it does is produce whores and thugs, This was intentional on the left’s part.

          Well, again, it looks that way to sober, rational people. But I believe it results from misguided idealism (i.e. naiveté) and inability or refusal to see the failure of their ideas (i.e. hubris). The thinking goes like this: “We know we are smarter and more moral than anyone else, especially those evil, stupid conservatives. We know our policies are best for minorities and the poor. The only people who could possibly disagree with us are bigots, morons, and/or villains. If inner-city black culture produces an outsized percentage of “whores and thugs” (not that we would ever use such racist, sexist terms) it’s because the racists have prevented us from having enough welfare. If we double down on what we’re doing, it will work. You’ll see. Yes, their dependence helps keep us in power, but isn’t it better for minorities and the poor to be dependent on wise, compassionate people like us who truly care for them than be cut loose to suffer the slings and arrows of racist, sexist, cutthroat capitalist society?” Of course, it should be obvious to anyone that the upshot of such “reasoning” is exactly what you describe, but some people, even some extraordinarily intelligent and well-meaning people, have a bottomless capacity to see what they want to see and believe what they want to believe.

          • louis_wheeler

            I believe the source of this comes from the Progressives. They have an interesting history, because they started off as a religious sect. Their origins evolved from the post-millennial pietist Lutherans of the Eighteenth Century. These people wanted to create heaven on earth. They believed they needed a thousand years of perfection before the rapture would come. Since many of these people grew up in the New England states, they added in a dash of puritanism as well.

            They came to believe that all they needed was to control government. They believed that a government could make people pious. This is a bizarre belief, because the Bible tells us that we are only saved by faith. Faith is a personal matter, hence governmental rules and regulations could not possibly make us pure. But the progressives certainly tried. In doing so, they took on the sins of pride and presumption.

            The Progressives were responsible for the public piety laws. They closed down the saloons, theaters and bawdy houses. They made it illegal buy goods on Sunday. Since they wanted to indoctrinate the young, they pushed areas into setting up public schools. They favored the welfare state and a massive bureaucracy, increasingly they turned America into a police state. Ever more social functions were transferred from the churches to the government.

            When they came to believe that the government would gain them a heaven on earth, then God became replaceable. As time went on, they became ever more secular. By the 1940s, they could join in with the leftists because their goals were so similar. The Progressives enacted laws to enforce morality while the leftists manipulated the economy. Between the two of them, they created the welfare/ warfare state. This is a unique form of fascism.

            This indoctrination and interference made them the enemies of various groups. The largest immigrant group in the United States is the German-Americans who are often Catholics. Catholics tend not to be very pious. They don’t make a fetish out of of avoiding sin, because everyone is a sinner. The Catholic practice of the confessional allowing them to pay for their petty sins periodically. St. Augustine of Hippo believed that minor sins, such as alcohol, prostitution and gambling, were socially tolerable. Attempting to wipe these sins out created more harm than it was worth. St. Augustine also once said,”Lord make me chaste… But not yet.” The German workers thought nothing of going to a bar after work and socializing with their friends, before going home. The Progressives thought this behavior heinous and did everything they could to stamp it out.

            The next group the Progressives hated were the blacks. The blacks had a reputation for being liars, braggards, drunks, lazy, unclean people with low intelligence and a massive lust for white women. The Blacks simply did not fit into the Progressive’s paradise. The Progressives were quite patronizing, arrogant and dismissive toward the blacks as can be seen by the Tuskeegee experiments. They kept the Blacks out of the Progressive’s centers of power, except for a few tokens. The left and the Progressives would, though, use the blacks as a means to attack White Christians, especially the German Catholics.

  • Misanthrope

    “But this is compounded for black children, who are treated as though they are not as intelligent and cannot perform as well, and therefore the standards for them should be lower.”
    And that, boys and girls, is as good a summary of leftist racial dogma as you will find anywhere.

  • Corlyss

    “We have all heard that the American education system is not the best and is falling behind in terms of international standards,” she said. “But this is compounded for black children, who are treated as though they are not as intelligent and cannot perform as well, and therefore the standards for them should be lower.”
    Well, what is Affirmative Action but an open acknowledgement that those are indeed the facts? I don’t mean that black kids are dumber. I mean that these are the built-in expectations and blacks have had no little part in cultivating those expectations.

  • SV

    Why stop at Homeschooling? Why not home-college and home-job also.
    It is not as if you need to have any kind of knowledge for teaching. I’m skipping ahead giving my kids double ph.d. in Quantum Mechanics and Classics.

  • stefanstackhouse

    American schools have been designed and operated for over a century on an industrial-era mass production paradigm. They are structured to efficiently process the average student. Students who diverge significantly from the average in any way – intelligence, race, learning style, behavior, etc. – do very poorly in such an environment. It is little wonder that many such students do poorly or rebel against the system in disruptive ways. One could imagine a radically redesigned system utilizing individual computer workstations allowing each student to learn subjects at their own pace and in their own learning style. Until such a thing is implemented, though, parents of non-average students would be well-advised to at least supplement their children’s learning with their own at-home enrichment activities, or perhaps even pull their children out entirely and to home school them.

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