More Black parents have chosen to home-school their children since the pandemic began. Many of those parents, as well as experts, cite the desire to have culturally competent curricula centered on Black culture and avoid racism as reasons so many have opted to keep their Black children at home.
Queen Taese is riding the wave of a growing number of Black parents looking to home-school their children. Taese has home-schooled seven of her own children to much success. One of her adult children is working as a chef and another runs a pilot training program. She began her home-schooling journey back in 1995 when things were different than they are today.
“I thought, ‘Were there any of us that do this?’ I hadn’t seen anything, nothing online. I was like, ‘Where are we at in this, where is the representation?’” said Taese, the founder and CEO of Liberated Minds Education, which provides an African-centered curriculum, training, support, and resources to Black families home-schooling their children.
Taese never went to college but did not let that stop her home-school ambition for her children.
“We did a lot of field trips, we used to study under the willow tree in Central Park, then they’d play, and we’d go to the museums, and everything became a lesson, and because I didn’t have all the textbooks I started looking at everything around us as curriculum,” said Taese.
Taese builds connection with her children by tapping into their interests and turning those interests into learning exercises. In 2011, she turned her passion for educating children into Liberated Minds Education.
Taese says she has seen 800 percent growth in business since the pandemic and now supports thousands of families worldwide through her program.
“A lot of people wanted to know, how do I get African-centered or culturally relevant curriculum, No. 1. I want Black books, I want things that pertain to my children so the connections and dots can be made. And the other thing was support,” said Taese.
The pandemic forced schools to adopt a virtual school model, sending students home to learn during the height of the efforts to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
A 2020 survey by the Census Bureau suggests a growing number of families discovered learning from home is a viable option.
For Black families, 3.3 percent home-schooled their kids in the spring of 2020. By the fall of 2020 that number jumped to 16 percent.
Joyce Burgess, the program director of the National Black Homeschool Association, gives her reason for the increase.
“They’re making these conclusions that peer pressure, they don’t have to be bothered with unnecessary racism, they don’t have to be bothered with bullying, they don’t have to be bothered with negative peer pressure. Some parents have chosen to bring their children home because the virtual setting, some parents just aren’t able to navigate that,” said Burgess.
Taese says about 85 percent of students who complete her home-school program go on to college, and the remaining go straight into the workforce. Research firm ThinkImpact found 67 percent of home-schooled students successfully graduate from college. A 2015 study by Brian Ray from the Journal of School Choice also found that Black home-school students score higher than Black public school students on standardized tests.
Dr. Cecil Webster is a psychiatrist and psychotherapist. He says in traditional school settings Black children tend to face racial biases, microaggressions and other slights that could limit their full potential and negatively affect their mental health.
“It might be a viable option for their child, so they don’t have to be exposed to resource officers in school or be suspended at a higher rate or have teachers have a negative bias against things that are really perhaps an anxiety or learning disability rather than being a difficult kid or an oppositional kid. It provides for a real viable option,” Webster said.
Both Burgess and Taese say since they began their home-schooling journey, advances in technology and an abundance of resource groups tailor-made for the Black home-school experience have made it easier for new parents to jump in.
“I think it’s all about mindset. Mindset is everything, we have to know that we can do it. Why? Because we don’t have any other option, other than to be in the driver’s seat of our children’s education,” said Taese.