Why so many black families are homeschooling their children

Black students tend to do worse academically when they’re taught by white teachers. Those students are also more likely to be late to class and suspended from school, too, a study says.
Jan 08, 2016

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  • A new study says that a teacher's demographic matters for students, which may offer a clue as to why there's been a shift in how black parents provide education for their children.

  • Black students tend to do worse academically when they're taught by white teachers, and those students are more likely to be late to class and suspended from school, too, the study said.

  • But the study, done by researchers at American University, also found that students, especially black boys, are less likely to be absent or suspended when they have a "demographically similar classroom teacher," The Huffington Post reported.

  • Researchers found this by analyzing students' attendance and suspension rates from North Carolina schools from 2006 to 2010, and determining how those numbers changed based on teacher differences, The Huffington Post reported.

  • The study found that black students with white teachers were 1 percent more likely to be suspended every year, American University professor Seth Gershenson told The Huffington Post. That may seem small, but Gershenson said that means students have "almost a twenty percent increase in the likelihood of being suspended during the year. Especially in primary school, even being suspended once is a really big disruption to the learning environment," The Huffington Post reported.

  • Gershenson said this issue sometimes exists because students and teachers of a similar demographic can relate to teach other easier. When students have teachers who are like them, those students are more likely to "take their advice to heart," especially when those teachers confront them about missing class.

  • But right now, black students aren't finding as many "demographically similar" teachers as before. In fact, the number of black teachers in nine major U.S. cities — Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Cleveland, New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. — have all seen a drop in black public school teachers in both traditional and charter schools, The Washington Post reported.

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  • Researchers specifically found this drop between the years of 2002 and 2012, when there was an expansion of public schools across the country, as well as an increase in federal education policy changes, the Post reported.

  • The researchers noted this drop is significant because black students do better in school when racially paired with teachers.

  • "Teachers of color also can serve as powerful role models for minority students, who are more likely to live in poor neighborhoods than white students and less likely to know other adults who are college graduates," the Post reported.

  • This may be why many American black families are one of the fastest-growing homeschooling demographics.

  • In fact, a new study from the National Home Education Research Institute found that black parents will "pull their children out of environments that are not welcoming to black youth," like one where the child is exposed to racism, or from which they aren't benefitting, the Atlanta Black Star reported.

  • Homeschooling has proven to be successful for these families, too, as homeschooled black students perform better than white public school students, the study said.

  • These parents feel that homeschooling their children would be a better option than sending them to schools where they are "subjected to numerous forms of racial discrimination and hostility in school that can make the environment unpleasant and detrimental to learning," the Black Star noted.

  • It's helpful, too, that these students' test scores are so high, experts said. It gives black families even more of a reason to teach their students from home.

  • "The Black homeschool children's high achievement test scores were remarkable," Brian Ray, president of NHERI, said. "Parents without teaching certificates helping their children from a traditionally low-achieving minority group excel this way should cause all educators and social advocacy groups to take special note."

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Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.

Website: https://twitter.com/HerbScribner

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