In researching the home-schooling trend, a movement that seems to be gathering steam, I came across the book “Morning by Morning: How We Home-Schooled Our African-American Sons to the Ivy League.” The author begins the book by stating, somewhat apologetically, that her family had not chosen homeschooling because they concluded it was the best option after researching their sons’ educational opportunities. Rather, they decided on homeschooling in reaction to what “some white people had done to them.”
I can certainly empathize. I have written before about what I think white people might do to my daughter in the school system. As eloquently explained by my co-blogger, the “colorblind” mantra–all the rage since the election of our first black president–dangerously allows people to ignore the ways in which our society’s institutions and systems perpetuate racial inequality. In the classroom, it dangerously allows teachers and students to ignore the ways in which race influences their decisions in a learning environment. And so, I’m anxious about teachers who will underestimate my daughter’s abilities, subject her to racially offensive lessons, or discipline her for “acts of insubordination” that would merely land her white classmates a stern look. I worry about student social patterns, broken down along lines of race, that may render her isolated by her peers, left out of playgroups, and uninvited to birthday parties. I’ll be on guard for administrators who, under the guise of “colorblindness” and “objectivity,” will seek to erase people of color from the curriculum all together.
Home-schooled, my daughter could avoid all that. Our home is full of positive images of people of color; our books include not only black children, but children of all races. We would never underestimate her ability; in fact, we’d likely expect more of her than public school teachers would. We could integrate current events into our lessons, placing them in the proper social context, teaching her about race and class in ways that will make her an informed and compassionate citizen of the world. We could give her a culturally reaffirming and rigorous education.
Alas, it’s only a pipe dream. My husband and I both work full-time, and so it is unlikely that we will ultimately decide to home school. We’ll have to settle for using our own resources, as educators and people of color attuned to race and class dynamics around us, to be doggedly vigilant regarding what goes on in our daughter’s classrooms. All the same, “Morning To Morning” has got me thinking about how to give children of color better educational experiences; could homeschooling be the answer for more of us?