How Black Parents are Tackling the School to Prison Pipeline by Homeschooling

The moment this mother knew it was time to take her son out of school…

I wanted to share a story from a fellow homeschool-mother I know, who chose not to be named, and her son, Toby. Toby was in year 6 when she noticed the changes in his behaviour and overall demeanour. He was often reluctant to go to school, he was sullen at home, and very rarely completed his homework. One day he asked his mum, “Is there something wrong with me?” His mother, who is a first-generation African immigrant listened intently as he recounted how his white, female maths teacher wouldn’t stop calling him out. She was always on him. He’d be doing the same as others but she’d always call him out and he would be the only one getting sent out of class. 

The School To Prison Pipeline
The School To Prison Pipeline

Toby was the only black child in his year, in a small community school yet his mother never considered this would pose any issues. I can only imagine her thought process as she pondered on what this woman had put her son through, for the 10-year-old to think

“something is wrong with me.”

His mother immediately requested a meeting with the headteacher but what she was not expecting, when she walked into the school’s conference room, was to have an army of faculty waiting for her; her son’s maths teacher and teaching assistant, a literacy professional, skills counsellor, school psychologist, and headteacher.

This actually brought me back to an incident (or two) I had in school, both primary and secondary and my mother had had a strikingly similar experience. Naturally, you start to think, “wow, it’s one thing to read the research on how white educators marginalize and negatively track black children in UK schools, it’s a whole other thing to see it happen and experience what black parents go through to protect and stand up for their kids.” they were ready and waiting for her.

She raised the issue of the maths teacher and her targeted negative attention towards Toby, his love for math, and how this affected him horribly. In response, the math teacher began to cry and her colleagues rallied to comfort and defend her. They claimed that Toby was wrong and she’d never treat him or any student differently. Long story short, this meeting that Toby’s mother had called to rectify an issue affecting his education was completely derailed to focus on his teacher’s feelings, instead of the harm that she caused the child.

That was the moment this mother knew it was time to take her son out of school.

The matter that there are many teachers who harbour racist stereotypes and beliefs which they then bring into the classroom, is a sore, uncomfortable subject that people dance around, so as not to hurt anybody’s feelings or offend them.
The problem is, the need to not offend those people is greater than the need to rectify the apparent issue.
The adverse effects of the unbridled bigotry black school children face is a disinterest in school. Likewise, the unjust disciplinary actions for innocuous behaviour eventually brings black children into direct contact with law enforcement and criminal unjustice systems.

Enough is enough.

For many back parents, it’s a hopeless struggle to protect their children inside a public school system historically designed to limit the black child’s scholarly ambitions through a dangerous combination of racism, disengagement and social exclusion.

So, how do black parents prevent their children from falling into the school exclusion hole? And what are their options for restoring their children’s confidence, and enthusiasm for learning? Some parents take a preemptive strike by withdrawing their child from school. This happens when they notice things are not improving. Others opt to never put them in the system at all.

Exploring the homeschool option

As state-funded schools across the UK continue to fail black students, parents are expressing their displeasure with the British school system by choosing to educate their kids at home. They see this option as an attempt to save their child. To nurture them in an environment where their potential can be developed.

For families prepared to make the necessary sacrifices, homeschooling is an effective alternative. One which can prevent their children from falling into the school to prison pipeline. And the more schools push black students out of the system, the advantages of homeschooling are becoming more and more apparent.

The benefits of homeschooling for black children can be classed into two main categories which are; academic, and psychological benefits:

The Benefits of Homeschooling Black Children

Academic BenefitsPsychological Benefits
Homeschooled children score around 15-30% higher on standardized academic testsHomeschooling provides a practical environment for easy social interactions between youth and adult where they receive direct counselling on self-identity and life purpose.
Educational exploration beyond the limits of the National Curriculum
Not confined to the overcrowded classroom walls
The varied learning environment and opportunity to learn in different locationsBeing educated by somebody who they know cares about them
A tailored learning environment and strategy built around each child vs. a one size fits all approachImproved familial and community bonding
Parents can provide cultural education that is relevant to the child’s black heritageHomeschooled children tend to develop above-average social skills. Socialising with other children in their community in different age groups.
Mutual learning for both parent and childBlack boys and girls experience less racial stereotyping; which can be detrimental to a young child’s personal development and confidence.
An opportunity to teach them useful life-skills often neglected by the public school system, ie. financial literacy, effective communication skills and problem solving.Homeschooling offers a safe learning environment, dramatically reducing racial, physical, sexual and psychological abuse, as well as peer pressure which often results in drugs and alcohol use (often associated with state-funded schools).

Homeschooling sounds great, but can I afford it?

Contrary to popular belief there are no official or required fees associated with homeschooling. Homeschooling could cost absolutely nothing if you choose. However, the average homeschooling costs in the UK is roughly £130 – £390 per annum. Additionally, no minimum education qualification is required to homeschool children and it has no impact on their academic performance. 

Student academic achievements are not dependent on the amount of government regulation or oversight. 

How do I get stared?

This is usually the next question for a parent once the common costing misconception is addressed. With all these benefits to homeschooling, how do I get started?
You will first need to withdraw your child from school officially and then get started on planning your curriculum and journey. We have put together a step-by-step guide on how to do this as well as providing free, downloadable templates to inform your child’s school that you intend to take them out.

You can read all about that here: How Do I Deregister My Child From School And Begin Homeschooling? A step-by-step guide.

Once you have notified the school and decided on the most suited approach with regards to a curriculum, that is it, you and your child are free. No rules are saying one should teach exactly the way schools do! Parents have full control of the subjects they wish to teach and they can also include field trips as much as it is possible.

Your support system and network of black homeschool parents

If you are a single parent and are wondering if you can still homeschool, while this may present it’s own set of challenges it is very doable and I have provided a lot of information on how you can go about doing it, here: Can I Homeschool As A Single Parent?

It is important to remember that you aren’t alone and there are MANY other black mothers and fathers on this journey. Find your village, connect with other parents, attend the multiple weekly meetups and nature walks they plan and plan your own. You will find that the black homeschool community is very supportive, well informed and not at all judgemental – we are in this together and collectively want better for our black children.

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