Published June 16, 2012
It’s the end of another school year, and for a growing number of African-American kids, it will be their last outside the home.
Nationwide, more and more families are choosing to home school their children each year, and the fastest growing segment of the home school movement is African-Americans, experts say. Some 220,000 black children are home-schooled, according to one estimate.
“Each one of them has excelled so much, and I can see it,” Kisha Hayes, of Baton Rouge, La., says of her three children, whom she began home-schooling five years ago. “I can see the difference in their learning.”
Alkinee Jackson, also of Baton Rouge, began home-schooling her five children after she and her husband saw the attitude and behavior of their oldest son, Alante, worsen. He was only in second grade.
“If we allowed him to continue to be there and be influenced, by the time he reached high school he’d already be gone; and we know where he’d end up,” Jackson said.
Nationwide, home-schooling grew from 1.7 percent of the school-age population in 1999 to 2.9 percent in 2007, according to the U.S. Department of Education. The total number of kids being home-schooled has more than doubled since 1999 to more than two million, according to estimates. Some 220,000 of those students are African-American, according to The National Home Education Research Institute.
George Noblit, an education sociologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said African-American parents increasingly turn to home-schooling to protect their children from drugs and bullying, as well as to ensure the kids get more individualized instruction.
“For African Americans, the current state of education is actually not one that is conducive to kids learning,” Noblit told FoxNews.com. “More and more kids end up not being served well. African Americans are positively saying, ‘It’s time to find a better educational situation.’”
Hayes, who calls her classroom the “Hayes Homeschool Academy,” said she and her husband are able to spend the kind of one-on-one time with their kids that school teachers couldn’t. They can also emphasize subjects they believe public schools don’t, including religion and African-American history.
“We’re able to focus on black history a little bit more than I think public schools would give it,” said Hayes, who moved from San Bernadino, Calif., five years ago. “We’re actually able to learn the things we want to learn, whatever that might be, and I think that would go with any nationality.”
While home school families do have some flexibility in what is taught, each state sets out certain standards and requirements that home schoolers are obligated to meet each year.
New York, for example, has some of the tightest regulations on home schooling, and maintains a very detailed list of what subjects must be taught and when. It also requires parents to file quarterly reports for each subject describing what was taught, how many hours were spent on it, and what grade the student received.
Texas, which has some of the friendliest home school laws in the country, only requires instruction on good citizenship, math, reading, spelling, and grammar.
Noblit expects the home-schooling trend to accelerate among African-Americans over the next decade.
"The African American community is building the networks and linking with white home schoolers,” he said. “Unless we figure out how to make the schools work for kids of color, we are going to see more and more people consider all of the options available to them.”
Now 15, Alante is preparing to graduate high school a year early. He’s taking a Chinese language course online, and deciding whether to major in engineering or medicine in college.
Kamal Hayes, who at age 16 is a five-year veteran of his mom’s “academy,” said home-schooling has worked out well for him, too.
“Nothing against public school,” he said, “but you’re not really missing out on anything.”