Number of kids being homeschooled spiked last year, with major increase in Black families

Posted at 9:23 AM, May 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-18 09:23:20-04

(WXYZ) — School shutdowns have resulted in a number of families opting for homeschooling. Michigan's public schools lost more than 60,000 students in the fall of 2020, and enrollment is continuing to drop.

The switch to homeschooling is growing more diverse, and it could benefit some communities like Detroit, where only 16% of kids are reading at grade level in third grade.

When the pandemic hit, the last-minute switch to virtual learning made matters worse, and many students checked out and dropped out.

Since spring of 2020, the number of households choosing independent parent & child-led homeschooling has doubled, according to a U.S. Census Bureau survey – from 5.4% to 11.1%.

The biggest increase came in communities of color. Black families saw a 500% increase in homeschool households, skyrocketing from 3.3% to 16.1%.

"It actually makes me happy to see that type of increase," Bernita Bradley, from Detroit, said.

Bradley and other families of color are realizing what President of National Home Education Research Institute Brian Ray says studies have shown for years

"Thousands and thousands of people have been doing it for 40 years," he said. "Whether their parents are rich or poor, whether the parents have a high education or low education, home-educated kids do well academically and socially and into adulthood."

Bradley also launched a home-school co-op called Engage Detroit and applied for grant money.

"I just really didn't think as a mom I had the tools to do it or the know-how to do it," she said.

Now, she and more than a dozen other Detroit families have a support system and education coaches to teach them to teach their kids.

The child and parent choose lessons and class times that work best for them. Due to high demand, Bradley expects to at least double the size of the co-op in the upcoming school year.

Her daughter, who was going to drop out of school, is now planning to go to Wayne State University.

Bradley believes homeschooling could be a solution to disparities in the public schools.

"This puts pressure on the public school system to say and admit they don't always do things best, and I think millions of families are realizing, you know what, with much fewer resources than the government schools and with more relaxation and enjoyment our children are getting very well educated so I think that is part of what is coming out of this last year," she said.

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