As a growing number of African-American parents decide to home-school their children, noted educator Juwanza Kunjufu claims that the decision could lead to higher test scores.
“We hear so much about the plight of black children and their low test scores. We have not heard that African-American children who are home-schooled are scoring at the 82 percent in reading and 77 percent in math,” Kujufu, the author of 33 books on black children and education, wrote in the Atlanta Voice last week. “This is 30-40 percent above their counterparts being taught in school. There is a 30 percent racial gap in schools, but there is no racial gap in reading if taught in the home and only a 5 percent gap in math.”
“What explains the success of African-American students being taught by their parents?” he asked. “I believe that it’s love and high expectations.”
According to statistics released by the U.S. Department of Education, as a whole, home-schooling grew from 1.7 percent of the school-age population in 1999 to 2.9 percent in 2007, a total of more than 2 million families. An estimated 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, told Fox News last year that 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 said. “More and more kids end up not being served well. African-Americans are positively saying, ‘It’s time to find a better educational situation.’”
Brian Ray, founder and president of the National Home Education Research Institute, who has been studying home schooling for 27 years, reported that he hears from experts in the field who note the rise in minority participation.
“You’ll hear that, all over the country, from people who organize home-school conferences,” Ray said. “It’s clearly rising.”
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Kunjufu, who has written extensively about the decline in African-American academic achievement, said a major factor is the decline in black teachers, who have fallen off 66 percent since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision, Brown vs. Topeka in 1954.
“Many African-American students are in classrooms where they are not loved, liked, or respected,” he wrote. “Their culture is not honored and bonding is not considered. They are given low expectations – which helps to explain how students can be promoted from one grade to another without mastery of the content. There are so many benefits to home schooling beyond academics. Most schools spend more than 33 percent of the day disciplining students. And bullying has become a significant issue. One of every 6 black males is suspended and large numbers are given Ritalin (medication for hyperactivity disorder) and placed in special education. These problems seldom, if ever, exist in the home school environment.”
Kunjufu also pointed to another benefit of home-schooling: The ability to keep students focused during the summer months.
“Research shows that there is a three-year gap between white and black students. Some students do not read or are (not) involved in any academic endeavor during the summer. Those students lose 36 months or three years if you multiply three months times 12 years (grades first -12) Home-school parents do not allow academics to be forsaken for three months,” he wrote.
“Finally, in the home-school environment, parents are allowed to teach their children values,” he concluded. “Large numbers of parents are teaching their children faith-based morals and principles. And many are teaching their children with the Afrocentric curriculum SETCLAE. These children are being taught truths like, Columbus did not discover America; Abraham Lincoln did not free the slaves; Hippocrates was not the father of medicine and that African history did not begin on a plantation, but on a pyramid.”
SETCLAE, Self-Esteem Through Culture Leads to Academic Excellence, is an Afrocentric, multicultural, language arts and social studies curriculum created in 1988 by Kunjufu and Dr. Folami Prescott Adams of Atlanta. It is used in over 5,000 schools and has been expanded to include home schools.
“Until public schools give more love, higher expectations, better classroom management, greater time on task throughout the entire year, values and the SETCLAE curriculum, we can expect to continue to see an increase in African-American parents home-schooling their children,” Kunjufu said.