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Homeschooling on the Rise in Black Communities

Monday, May 19, 2003

LOS ANGELES "” With a 4,000 percent increase in a 20-year span, homeschooling has become one of the fast-growing phenomenons, especially inside the black community. In fact, black children are now five times more likely to be homeschooled than they were five years ago.

In conjunction with the usual public school concerns, such as safety, many black parents also feel that their African American history is ignored in the curriculum.

Ghia Johnson, a single mother of four, who has been homeschooling for seven years now, is one of the many parents who feel that public schools are dangerous, ineffective and focus too little on African American history.

"That takes precedence over math and science and all other subjects, because if they don't know who they are or where they came from then I don't believe they will know where they are going," Johnson said.

Ironically, many people are accusing black homeschool advocates of turning back the clock on civil rights and integration in public schools.

"What our fathers believed in the 1950s is that if it was a white school, it had to be better," says Joyce Burges, who has homeschooled four children in Baker, La. "But in the last five years, more and more black parents are saying about those same schools: 'I'm not going to sacrifice my children to a system where they're suffering.'"

Others see civil rights as the freedom to educate as one pleases.

Mark Mabson, a homeschooling father, said, "I want to be looked upon as an individual and as an individual I want to do what is best for my family, I don't have to follow with the majority."

The Mabson family feels that the public school system is failing on numerous levels and is moving away from what is right to what is politically correct.

"We can teach our own morals, we can still say the Pledge of Allegiance, we can teach them about our country and loyalties," adds Karen Mabson, Mark's wife.

This movement is growing by leaps and bounds in black suburban communities, such as Atlanta, Richmond, Va., and Prince George County, Md., according to The Christian Science Monitor, and is partly fueled by groups like the Mocha-Moms . The Atlanta-based Mocha-Moms, which is a group of black housewives turned homeschooling mavens, offers tips and advice on the homeschooling experience.

Some critics say that homeschooled children might be academically challenged but miss out on valuable social experiences.

"The socialization process today is far more difficult than we really know," Charles Christian, a University of Maryland sociologist, told The Christian Science Monitor. He notes that a lot of parents "are simply saying that [public] school is not where they want to send their children during their formative years."
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Sponsor Pulls Ad from CBS News After Homeschoolers' Complaints
By Marc Morano Senior Staff Writer
October 21, 2003

( - At least one sponsor temoparily withdrew advertising from the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, after advocates of homeschooling complained about last week's two-part report on the "dark side" of the "largely unregulated" home school movement.

Homeschool advocates claim that CBS News' telephone switchboard was so overwhelmed by the high volume of viewer complaints that some calls couldn't get through to its Los Angeles bureau.

But CBS News is not backing down, despite the criticism. A network news spokeswoman reiterated on Monday that the network continues to stand by its story.

North Carolinians for Home Education proudly announced on its website that the effort "to let CBS's sponsors [know] what you think" is making headway.

The group's president, Hal Young, appeared in the CBS report as the only person to defend homeschooling against charges that it may help hide child abuse from the public eye.

"It's working, folks," says a headline on the website of North Carolinians for Home Education. The site also posted an e-mail response from Claritin customer relations officials, saying that the allergy drug company "pulled our advertising spots" from part two of the CBS News report on homeschooling. (The two reports aired as an Eye on America segment on the CBS Evening News on October 13 and 14.)

"We apologize that you were displeased with our advertising placement for Claritin allergy products during the CBS nightly news," said the Claritin e-mail response to complaints about the ads it ran.

"We were unaware of the content of this specific news segment when the advertising spots were purchased several weeks ago. We pulled our advertising spots from the second portion of the news story and those did not run on the evening of October 14th," the e-mail explained.

Dana Bicsko, a spokeswoman for Schering-Plough Corporation, the makers of Claritin, confirmed that her company did indeed issue the e-mail announcing that the Claritin ad had been pulled from CBS News.

Since the first segment of the homeschooling report aired last week, homeschool advocates have urged other supporters to contact CBS News and its sponsors to register their disapproval with what they see as the negative portrayal.

The two-part CBS News report included several examples of parents who had "taught their children at home" but who had ended up abusing and killing the children. Texas mother Andrea Yates, who drowned her five children in a bathtub, was listed as one of the examples. The series concluded by noting that no states require "criminal background checks" of the parents who homeschool their children.

The North Carolinians for Home Education webpage lists the contact information for nearly three dozen sponsors of CBS News and the phone numbers for CBS News's Los Angeles bureau, the e-mail address for reporter Vince Gonzales, producer Barbara Pierce and several CBS comment lines. The group urged homeschool advocates to contact the network and its sponsors to protest the controversial reports.

The Virginia-based Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) claims that the network's Los Angeles bureau phone lines were shut down by the high volume of irate calls last week.

"The phone [LA Bureau] number became a non-working number [last] Tuesday afternoon," Ian M. Slatter, the director of media relations at the HSLDA, told .

"People kept having trouble with that number for at least a couple of days," Slatter said "Because there have been so many calls coming into [CBS] people have been shunted to a voicemail" to register their comments, Slatter added.

Slatter also said that Vince Gonzales, the CBS correspondent who reported the homeschool segments, "turned off his number very quickly as well" in response to viewers' calls.

Since the reports aired last week, Slatter said his group has received "lot of e-mails thanking us for taking on CBS and their false reporting."

"The response has been overwhelming. People are thankful that we have stepped up with our letter to CBS, and that we are actually seeking a formal response to from the presidents of both CBS and Viacom," he added.

HSLDA's president J. Michael Smith, in a letter dated October 17 to CBS and Viacom (the parent company of CBS), said, "The goal of the CBS story was to plant the seed in the public's mind that there is a link between home education and child abuse."

CBS News has been sending e-mail responses to people who complain about the segments via the Internet, according to Slatter.

The e-mail reads: "As our reports point out more than once, the vast majority of homeschooling parents are doing a good job of both raising and educating their children. The point of our series is to report that some bad parents are hiding under the cover of the homeschooling movement. That is important for the public to know. Thank you for your comments. The CBS Evening News Staff"

Calls to CBS News reporter Vince Gonzales and CBS's Los Angeles bureau were not returned. CBS News publicist Andie Silvers declined to comment on the record regarding the reaction the network has received from viewers and the temporary loss of at least one sponsor.

But Silvers did tell \b, "We continue to stand by our story."

See Earlier Article:
CBS Needs Education on Homeschooling, Say Advocates (Oct. 16, 2003)

I am homeschooling my 5-year old and I am contemplating homeschooling him through at least the second grade, maybe even longer. But I think what I want is to homeschool him until I can place him in a private school that is an actual school for children and not a business or no more than a re-eduction camp and behavior modification centers that are really intolerant of adolescent behavior, like what the public school system has become.
If I could homeschool I would, but what are the options for people like myself who want their children to get an African-American based decent education and can't homeschool?
The things that I take into consideration are the socialization of my children and the quality of their education. If only there was a private elementary school or charter school here in my local area that my kids could attend.
There are not any Africentric Primary schools in my area either. They way I see it, is that African American parents have to take it upon themselves to educate their children about the truth about African/American history and culture. My son has a very moderate speech impediment and I was not able to get the school (teacher/principal) to see past it long enough to understand that it did not and does not interfer with his ability to learn and understand, and they want to place him in special education classes because of it and I will not let them, when all he really needs is speech therapy and regular classwork. I will not have my son wasting away in special education classes he does not need because of the prejudice that people (including the teacher and principal) have towards people with speech problems. My son is five years old, he knows all his alphabet, counts to 100, knows all his colors, most animals, he knows his phonics and can sound out words he does not know, he can read on a first grad level; yet all of that is not taken into consideration. These public schools have only two categories for children: normal and not normal or regualar classes or special education classes; If a child has a problem of any kind, they must be labeled and place in the not normal group, i.e. special education classes (which, by the way is illegal re federal law, however, my son cannot suffer while I attempt to rectify this situation. My brother had a sever speech impediment when we were young and it was improved somewhat with speech therapy over time --he was lucky that we were attending school so many years ago, before they begain to overreach in classifying children in the public schools, otherwise he would have completed all or most of his school years in special education classes that he did not need to be in.
I am going through a similar problem with my son at his school as well Sunnubian. This is why I am considering the homeschooling for my sons because of this situation. In addition I wouldn't feel right homeschooling one and not the other. I feel that my son has problems with math and he has been on a 2nd grade reading level since Kindergarten. I feel your frustration on this. I am getting tired of reciving work for him that is on a 1st grade level from his new school. During the first part of 1st grade the school he attended he was a peer tutor for reading although he also has a speech impediment because of thumb sucking. I just think that he needs assistance in Math, however his school feels otherwise. I feel your situation very much Sunnubian.

Our people have made the mistake of confusing the methods with the objectives. As long as we agree on objectives, we should never fall out with each other just because we believe in different methods, or tactics, or strategy. We have to keep in mind at all times that we are not fighting for separation. We are fighting for recognition as free humans in this society
Malcolm X, 1965
I just truly wish that we had more choices for our children's education. Where I live, nearly every school has been rebuilt or renovated and each school is a magnet-school or sorts, (international, the arts, math, . . .)---I feel that in an effort to force award winning school in the district, the school officials are going above and beyond the call of duty to get rid of any child that they feel may take up more than "x" amount of a teacher's time, which may result in her falling short of some unrealistc classroom goals set by the district, and in turn the school itself may drop from award winning status that they are willing to sacrifice more student that you would believe to achieve.
President Yssys:
There are a few homeschooling groups at yahoo, they are very innovative, also one resource

second resource
the above resources should enable you to be very confident about your ability to educate your child up to college level.

Madam Sunnubian:
The attached link will point you to a very valuable resource, even if you don't want to encourage your children to go into business, you could take their ideas, policies, and pratices and customize it to your particular interest(s),
one resource

note, that you will be able to call or email many of the schools, that will give you a more intimate appreication of the schools, educators, and the process.

[This message was edited by Our Empowerment on December 10, 2003 at 02:42 PM.]
Thank you for this information. I have been able to find a wealth of information, forms, lesson plans, etc. on the web and am always looking for more information, lesson plans, ideas, etc. I want to make this a worthwhile learning experience for my son. My biggest obstacle is trying to get him to understand that he cannot watch cartoon network or play instead of work, even if he is at home and not in a classroom away from home. Smile

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