It's Tuesday, September 8, 2020. If school hasn't started already, many families spent today traversing the new territories of e-learning. If you've known me for some time, you know that I have spent 6 years teaching high school English, but today began a new chapter for my family and me.
Today was our first official day of HOMESCHOOL.
Big deal! Ikr?!? I mean, the pandemic has everyone feeling like they are homeschooling now.
Here's the thing. A child is not being homeschooled if he or she is enrolled in public or private schools with instruction lasting at least 25 hours a week. Basically, if a child is receiving instruction from an institution of any kind (as opposed to a private tutor or parent) for at least 5 hours a day, that child is not being homeschooled.
I'm making this distinction because as long as I've known I've wanted kids, I've wanted to homeschool. I vividly remember my educational experience, particularly in grammar school, and I knew I didn't want my children to endure that level of neglect and mismanagement. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved learning. I was a straight-A child and most of my teachers loved me, but the nature of public school meant they could never serve me well. I watched elementary school friends, who struggled in their education, slip through the cracks, falling into the abyss of drugs, crime, and all manner of unfortunate decisions. Having taught for six years, I understand why these things happen, and I vowed all the more to protect my children from such a fate.
I'm pretty new to this homeschool thing, considering that this is my first day, but I am incredibly passionate about this work. As the number of homeschooling families is on the rise, Black people are still underrepresented, mainly because we are least likely to homeschool our children. In 1999, there were 850,000 homeschool children. 640,000 of those children were white; 84,000 of them were Black. By 2016, the number of homeschool children almost doubled to 1,690,000, with 998,000 of those children being white, and 132,000 of them being Black. Sure, that's a 56% increase in homeschooled white children versus a 58% increase for Black children, but catch this: in that same amount of time the number of Latino homeschooled children increased by 570%. Furthermore, families with a household income of over $100,000 represent the smallest population of homeschool families. The largest? Families with a household income of $20,000-$50,000. Think the more kids you have, the less likely you are to homeschool? Think again. The exact opposite is true. Families with three or more children represent the largest population of homeschooled families while families with one child represent the smallest population of homeschooled children.
I know that was a lot of numbers, but numbers matter to me. Numbers determine representation, access, and, ultimately, who has power. I scoured the internet for months looking for a curriculum that met the needs of my family. I had no luck. There were plenty of Black resources, but I've yet to find a rigorous, complete multi-leveled homeschool curriculum that is created by Black people, for Black people. The market is saturated with an abundance of Christian homeschool curriculum, but almost all of them feature whiteness as the center of reality in literature, art, and all other manners of socio-emotional stimulation. This left me to settle for a somewhat useful Christian curriculum while supplementing 50% of its materials with my own lesson plans.
I want my children to have it all when it comes to their education. I want their unique identities and mental capabilities to be attended to. I want them to see themselves, both as Black people and as children born into the covenant, in every book they read, math problem they answer, and historical fact they memorize. I want my kids to know their history as Americans and as African descendants. I want my children to be catered to. I want their minds to be opened, their endeavors to be supported, and their strengths and weaknesses recognized. I want my children's education to support them wholly, and I simply can't trust a system that was designed to send them to prison or perpetual mediocrity. So I wave goodbye to my former students, who I love and wish all the best for, and I am stepping into a new era.
I will be the founder and CEO of Gye Nyame University for Homeschool Families.