Friday, July 18, 2014

Still Wondering Why More Black People Don't Homeschool

I read a blog post ('3 Reasons Why African-Americans Don't Homeschool") I posted it on FB and heard crickets from my friends and a group of folks who are usually arguing about how bad the schools are. My family has gone back and forth between charter, private and homeschooling but one constant I find is most other African-Americans hesitance to homeschool.  My White or Latina friends are the ones who encouraged us to try to begin with. (I ran across an old message board post from a mom that told me she's is concerned about her white daughter, but there is absolutely NO WAY she would put an African-American boy in a public school with any other choice.  Wow!) Inside the community, when I met other Black homeschoolers they trended to the religious side, which is a whole other ball of wax for me.  What's wrong with secular education outside of public school?  That's one of those subjects where I've felt completely outside the circles.  Our social circle was mostly white people, but I'm not going to shy away when the conversation strays into racial/cultural topics. Makes for some awkward moments these days.  On the other hand explaining, 'Yes I totally believe in homeschooling, but I'm not going to your church or mosque...and my hair is just fine unlocked' isn't fun either.
With all the finger pointing we're doing, why aren't more African-Americans taking the reigns of their child's education?  In addition to the reasons the author pointed out I've heard I don't have the time, patience or money.  All of which are easily challenged.  We enrolled in Georgia Cyber Academy, which is an FREE online public charter school.  There I've met families where both parents work full time and school in the evenings or have a caregiver work with the student during the day.  There are families who qualify for free lunch so they get computers and printers to use dispelling the money excuse.  So in this day and age, what really is the excuse???
The more I read about unschooling, my thinking is going more and more towards the problems with education in itself.  The system teaches us to ignore our instincts and instead trust grade level standards of readiness.  We're taught to stay within the lines, discouraged from innovative problem solving and that if it can't be measured (by a standardized test) it isn't important.  If you don't realize you can easily step outside of the brick & mortar public school box,  you'll just sit there and complain...for years and years while our kids are growing up uninspired, illiterate and angry.  Complete trust in a broken paradigm has left us crippled to change it.
I don't think I'm smarter than the average person, better equipped than a trained teacher or more patient than most mothers; but I am the one who knows my little boy better than anyone else in this world.   When a teacher told me he didn't know his alphabet 3 years after he learned it; I knew that's not who I needed to hand my authority to  When we were told the solution to his reading 'below grade level' is to force feed something he loved doing until he hated it like most teenage boys, I knew that didn't feel right. When a teacher tells a student what they want to read is 'too hard' for them in front of others, I knew this system is not what I should entrust my child's emotional growth to.  Times have changed. My husband and I were both educated in public schools, but I feel it in my gut that it's not right for my child.
My college thesis was on cognitive dissonance and  hip hop lyrics.  I wondered how people resolved the dissonance of believing certain words in isolation were offensive, yet did not feel songs that contained them were offensive.  (I used the lyrics to 'Move, Bitch' by Ludacris in the research to date myself.) I got a little obsessed with the theory after all that work, but I see it in so many areas with African Americans.  We are just too willing to accept foolishness and adapt it as part of our culture.
Some of the biggest proponents (and detractors of charter or innovation in school systems) of public schools are African-Americans. That makes no sense. If you believe the educational system is a school to prison pipeline for Black boys, that ADHD is over diagnosed, that suspensions are handed out disproportionately, that the graduation rates are dismal... why are you fighting so hard to keep that system?

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