Sep 28, 2010

More black parents turn to home schooling as alternative
The Carter family are shown here during celebrating Jolene's eight grade graduation: Janae, Derek, Jolene, Cheryl and Jarrett. (Photo courtesy of Cheryl Carter)

More than 15 years ago when Cheryl Carter's oldest child, her son Jarrett, was just starting school, she and her husband were committed to sending him to a good public school. The family had moved to Long Island, New York for that expressed purpose -- quality schools. But soon Cheryl Carter had an epiphany of sorts, which opened her to a whole new world: home schooling.

As a young boy, Jarrett was incredibly active. Carter said her son's teachers didn't know what to do to harness his energy, capture his attention, and tap into his imagination. As a mother, her instincts told her that without the right support, Jarrett could be turned off from school. The local public school wasn't failing her family yet, but she didn't want things to go that far. The job of inspiring Jarrett fell to her.

"I wanted to instill in him a joy for learning," she said.

Jarrett, now 20 and a college junior, was just six when his mom began home schooling him. Then came his two sisters, Janae and Jolene. Neither of the girls ever attended traditional school. For the Carter family and a lot of other families like them, home schooling works.

According to the National Home Education Research Institute there are more than 2 million home schooled children in the United States. The institute also says what while home schooling was once considered a different type of experience, it's now considered a readily available option and in the mainstream.

Cheryl Carter said that when she first started, she didn't know many other families who home-schooled, never mind African-American families like hers who had made the same decision.

For some, the number of African-American home-schoolers may come as a surprise, but Dr. Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute, said the rate of African-American home-schoolers is growing at the same rate as home-schoolers of other races, about 5 to 12 percent per year.

"When African-American families choose to home school, by and large, it's for the exact same reasons that anyone else home schools," Ray said.

Ray lists among the motivating reasons: Parents believing they can offer at least as good an education as a school; home schooling allows the family to spend more time together to build stronger relationships; and home school parents believe they can educate their children in a safer environment physically, psychologically, and emotionally given some of the dangers children are exposed to when they go to school.

Suze Dalencour, another New York-area parent, has also been home schooling for years. Dalencour has four children, two boys and two girls who range in age from 11to 22.

Dalencour said that while she's confident she made the right decision for her family, she faced lots of criticism after her decision to home school.

"As far as the reaction, yes, people thought that I was strange and some people thought I was harming my kids, and that they were not going to get enough socialization," she said.


Post a Comment