Taken from the Washington Post
When school buildings were shuttered last year, Torlecia Bates had not given much thought to home-schooling her two school-aged children. Like a lot of parents, Bates, who lives outside of Richmond, viewed remote schooling as a temporary inconvenience, and had plans of sending them back as soon as schools reopened.
Then something in her shifted.
Following the murder of George Floyd, Bates, who is Black, had a panic attack. She worried about the safety of her family. And she began to question whether the school her children attended was equipped to talk about racism with young students. Bates, who has a master’s degree in theology and is now a manager in the banking industry, did not learn about systemic racism until she was in college. Would her children have to wait that long, too, to understand the roots of injustice?
For Bates’s children, 10-year-old Kayden, 8-year-old Kaylee and 3-year-old Kayson, these lessons could not be more critical: The children are descendants of Sally Hemings, the enslaved woman whose six children were fathered by Thomas Jefferson, and they live not far from Monticello, the former president’s plantation.
“Dealing with everything that we’re dealing with — with the social climate, with the political climate, I could not see putting my kids back in school. I just could not,” Bates said.
So last summer she did something she had scarcely considered before: She decided to take her two older children out of school and teach them herself, all while caring for their younger sister.
As the new school year approaches, millions of parents are eager to deliver their children back to teachers and put remote schooling — which wrought anger, frustration and financial turmoil for parents who needed to return to work — behind them. But for other parents, particularly parents of color, the pandemic and last summer’s national reckoning over race prompted them to pull their children from traditional schools entirely, moves that helped fuel an explosion in popularity of home schooling.
The percentage of children in home schooling has nearly tripled since mid-2019. By May of this year, the U.S. Census Bureau found more than 1 out of every 12 students were being home-schooled.
Even more remarkable are where those gains came from: Even though home schooling has often been considered the domain of religious White families, the most significant increases were seen among Black, Latino and Asian households.
Between 2019 and May 2021, home-schooling rates jumped from about 1 percent to 8 percent for Black students — a more than sixfold increase. Among Hispanic students, rates jumped from 2 percent to 9 percent. The increase was less dramatic for White families, where home schooling doubled from 4 percent to 8 percent over the same time period. Between 2016, the year of the most recently available data for Asian American families, and May, home-schooling rates went from 1 percent to 5 percent.
As coronavirus vaccination rates rise and infection rates fall, educators hope Black, Latino and Asian parents — who had expressed the greatest reluctance to return to classrooms — will feel confident enough to put their children back in school buildings. But many have concerns that extend far beyond coronavirus safety issues, meaning the upswing could become permanent.