In the first series of this blog, we looked at how the number of homeschool families has increased significantly within the last 20 years, particularly at the onset of the 2000s.
Statistically, the data available nationwide shows that there has been a “leveling off” in the number of families turning to homeschooling within the last five years. Overall, growth has only continued at a rate of 2%. However, there has been noticeable growth in some localized and regional areas of the country- some areas as high as 25%. Why is there such a discrepancy in the growth rate?
In the first part of this blog, I stated that data related to homeschooling is difficult to find in general; there are few reporting requirements on both a state and national level. The studies that have been done on homeschooling have primarily been focused on the most obvious demographic of people; white, semi-affluent to affluent families. There are next to no studies targeting specifically the rate at which minorities and special needs students enter into homeschooling and even less data about students with non-traditional gender identities.
The minute amount of data available for minorities is limited in scope to black families. The earliest data shows that in 2012, there were an estimated 103,000 African American children were being homeschooled, according to the National Home Education Research Institute. At that time, they indicated that black families were the fastest growing demographic with black students being an estimated 10-20% of the homeschool population. And they were correct; by 2018, according to an article published by PBS, that amount nearly doubled to 220,000.
While there is a lack of concrete statistical evidence for special needs and non-traditional gender students; although, there is some reporting that special needs students may account for up to 16% of homeschool students; there is a surge of anecdotal evidence appearing in several articles online and in social media. It is fair to reason that the “hidden” demographic of families that are turning to homeschooling are minorities; African American families being the largest portion of the demographic with a small percentage of Hispanic, Native American, Muslim, Asian, special needs students and LGBTQ identifying students edging in undetermined into the data.
Black families, along with other minority families, have many compelling reasons to homeschool. The reason most families interviewed gave was to avoid race-related bullying, followed by exposure to negative peer pressure. They were also very dissatisfied with the educational system in general- citing a culturally entrenched view of black students; including low academic expectations and assumption of negative behavioral issues. Families also reported experiencing a noticeable difference in treatment between white and black students, especially among boys. Students said there was very little discussion or depth of study of black history; such as not teaching about blacks who contributed significantly to historical and scientific advancements.
The limited studies back up what black families are experiencing. The data from the earlier article asserts that student testing showed that black fifth, seventh and eighth graders fell behind not only their white counterparts but their Hispanic and Asian counterparts as well in all key core subjects; math, science, and language arts. Black students were also expelled at a rate of more than six times any other minority and had a graduation rate 15% lower than white students.
Though there is a lack of diversity in reporting, there is no loss for anecdotal evidence of minorities becoming involved in homeschooling. While many families and students had a sense of marginalization that created feelings of exclusion within the public school system and often within their community; many also reported that homeschooling gave them an opportunity to find ways to connect deeper to their own culture and their own communities as well.