There Are More Black Homeschoolers Than Ever—Here's Why

For Black families who choose to homeschool, the benefits are clear.

School children are studying at home with a teacher.
Photo: Getty Images

In early 2020, the world as we know it came to a screeching halt as COVID-19 shut down most of normal life for the United States. With it, families across the country were abruptly switched to remote learning, a method of learning that was supposed to mimic the style of in-school teaching. But as in-person learning made a return, in 2021 and '22, there was still a shift for Black families.

A growing number of Black families are making the decision to stick with homeschooling after making the switch during the height of the pandemic. According to data collected by the Census Bureau, only about 3% of Black families were homeschooling in the beginning of 2020 compared to 16% by October of the same year.

Amiyrah Martin is a Columbus, Ohio mom of three entering her eighth year of homeschooling. "We're opening our eyes to the idea that learning can happen in so many ways, and that the school system we were brought up in is no more," Martin says. "Our children's education can be placed in our hands and we can do a great job of nurturing it. We're trusting ourselves more, and realizing that saving ourselves and our own children isn't as daunting as we once thought it would be."

It's quite possible that many families don't believe the traditional school route is for them anymore. With more opportunities to work from home, the possibility for parents to nurture their children's education has greatly changed. "I believe the pandemic showed Black families a glimpse of what homeschooling might look like for them. Some moms or dads began working from home or left their job, allowing them the opportunity to homeschool. Also, some Black families don't want to take the risk of putting their kids back in traditional school with COVID and other viruses," says Ashley Washington who homeschools her two children in Midlothian, Virginia.

"Also, as a former teacher, I know that there have been lots of changes with public schools since the pandemic and parents don't see traditional schools being a good fit for their child anymore," says Washington.

According to the Bureau of Labor statistics since the beginning of the pandemic state and local public education employment fell by nearly 5% overall. The number of K-12 teachers fell by 6.8% alone. With schools understaffed and teachers underpaid, this could also factor into the reason more families are taking on the task of home education.

"In the last 10 to 15 years there has been a large increase in charter schools. The thing about charter schools is that they ship a lot of teachers in from other states to fill in inner city jobs. With COVID, a lot of those teachers went home," says Saisha Lacon, a 10-year educator in New York City public schools. "Plenty families already believed that their children were being underserved, so now with understaffed schools the option to homeschool your child feels like the best service you can provide."

"Also because of COVID, there was a lot of slipping. There were things that we were told as teachers to allow and accept as work that we never would have done prior. The standards and expectations have changed greatly and not in a positive way," Lacon says.

Homeschooling allows families and children flexibility that traditional school schedules do not allow. "The biggest benefit has been the installation of autonomy and freedom in my children. Each year, it's their decision if they would like to continue homeschooling or return to traditional school," Martin says about how homeschooling works within her family. "They pick their majors for their school career and also can make the decision to change them at any time. They work independently, and only meet with me on Fridays for 'office hours with Mom.' It shows all of us how kids can thrive in their own unique ways when adults find paths to get out of the way of their children's growth."

And giving children the freedom to choose their own path undoubtedly benefits them. A 2015 study found that Black homeschool students scored 23 to 42 percentile points above Black public school students (Ray, 2015). There have been numerous studies conducted that show that homeschooling is associated with higher rates of academic achievement as well as higher career achievement after graduation.

Despite the misconception from some that homeschooled children are not well socialized, homeschooling is associated with more well-adjusted and successful adulthood in terms of personal relationships and careers.

"A standard school schedule will not be enough for your child to have a well-rounded, fulfilling, challenging life that will prepare them for the real world. It never was and we can see that from the adults we are today," says Lacon. "If you truly believe that you have the time, energy, and desire to work with a homeschooling group and get that well-rounded support for your child(ren), it is a fantastic opportunity to learn and grow with them. It allows a completely different experience than they would get in a large classroom."

If the idea of homeschooling is overwhelming to you, homeschooler Ashley Washington wants to remind families it doesn't have to be a forever thing. "Every year, I ask my daughter if she wants to be homeschooled and so far she's said yes. I want to take her feelings into consideration as well," she says. "Also, it's important to understand that homeschooling doesn't have to be forever. You can choose to homeschool just for a couple years if you want. I think some families get nervous about homeschooling because they feel like it's a lifelong commitment."

Whether you decide to join the homeschool population is a personal decision you can make with your family.. The most important thing is you're doing what's best for your family and your children.

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