Thursday, April 10, 2008


This seems to be the month of the newspapers for me; I keep coming across really great articles that I feel obligated to share with you. Guess not all the papers are going to shit, as David Simon would like you to believe. Yesterday I read an article (I was going to use the word interesting, but still not sure that’s the right word to describe how I felt about it). The article was this weeks cover story for the Village Voice entitled “A New Home Room” by Chloé A. Hilliard.

The piece is an in-depth look at the relatively new trend amongst black families in New York of taking their children, primarly their young black male children, out of school to homeschool. I have my own thoughts on the story, but I’m going to allow you to read the piece for yourself and come to your own conclusions, before I bombard you with mine.

Below are some excerpts from the story and a link to the full piece. If interested in my thoughts hit the comment section, read mine, and then leave your own, or vice versa. This is a place for some talking.

For Some Black Parents, the New Home Room is Home
Public schools are failing black boys, say a growing number of parents who are homeschooling
by Chloé A. Hilliard
April 8th, 2008 12:00 AM

“Say "homeschooling" and what tends to come to mind are the whitest people you know, holding Sunday school every day of the week in their basements, producing kids who can declaim against Charles Darwin for hours on end, but who are so screwed up socially that you can't imagine them getting a date, except years later as part of a group outing to Christian Day at Disney World.So, with that admittedly over-broad stereotype in mind, it's something of a shock to see the lessons in progress at Bread Stuy, a small café in Brooklyn, where customers sip at their coffee and read newspapers, unaware that a woman named P. Aurora Robinson is holding a homeschooling class in their midst.” Continue reading here

Full disclosure: The writer of this piece Chloé A. Hilliard, is a good friend of mine. That’s not the reason I posted the story though, it’s because in my groggy, half woke state yesterday morning the story woke me up and had me thinking, then writing, and then texting her ass like “YOU GOT SOME QUESTIONS TO ANSWER”. Now if a piece that does that to me is not worthy of some blog space sharing, I don’t know what is. I have a lot of friends doing a lot of things, but only the dopiest make it to this page.


I AM GVG® said...

This was an interesting story (there goes that word again) to read after the weekend I had. I don’t know if I believe the “all is right with my way of thinking” that’s being pushed in the story by the mothers. Even the writer wonders whether the kids have thoughts of their own on the matter or are just trained puppets regurgitating the words of their overprotective mothers.

I’m curious to know if Talon even really wrote that "My Life in the School System" essay for his New York Association of Journalists high-school journalism workshop. Do we have many 14 yr olds making statements like this independently - “I also have interests in astrophysics, oceanography, geography, and biology. I also have a yearning to learn about prehistoric creatures, mainly dinosaurs, which I believe is called paleontology . . .”

or this

“The reason she took me out of the public school system is the debauchery that would take place on a daily basis at JHS 35. Many of the students would disrupt the class, often begin fights with each other, use profanity towards the teachers, etc. This she felt was immoral, and she choose to remove me from an environment that was not conducive to the manner in which she wanted me to be taught in . . .”

Debauchery and conducive, that’s what the kids are saying these days. I think this kid has the same staff writers as the Gilmore Girls.

I understand the need to take your child that you love and want to protect out of an environment you find unsafe and unconducive to the standards you’ve created for them. However, Children need to be set out on their own to learn, interact, fall, and most importantly get back up on their own. I’m the product of a similar situation – my mother was both an educator and a smotherer, she never allowed me to get into the fights a young man needs to get into to defend himself and find his way in the pack. She didn’t allow me to play with other kids outside of family, none of which lived close enough to play with daily, or those she deemed to be worthy or from a family of similar values and rearing techniques, until I took it upon myself as a preteen to venture out against her wishes and make my own way. Which by that point with my lack of social skills and untrusting nature of anyone who wasn’t raised just like me were set in stone and forever made me the loner I am today.

The only difference is she believed in the school system with the assistance of the parent as co-teacher to the child’s productiveness and development. Therefore, I did go to private and prep school, but she also added her own curriculum to my yearly intake. After school programs in math and sciences at the Science Skills Center from third grade on, if I looked at an instruments I was signed up for a class in it the next day, swimming and scuba lessons, trips to Paris, Miami, Montreal, and all the other places you find Haitians to visit family each summer. Don’t get it twisted though those summer weren’t all running the streets and playing stickball (Yes I was born in 1923 and we played stickball. LOL. No idea where that came from) Anyway, every summer, no matter where I was going, she would give me her own reading list that had to be completed with book reports by the end of summer with timeline check-ins and corrections mailed back and forth.

She was at EVERY parent/teacher function and it was never out of the ordinary to open my front door and have one of my teachers standing there looking at me like the bell just rang and I was late. Some things you just never get use to. Homework was ALWAYS checked and corrected by her and redone by me when needed. When my mother switched from her 9-5 to her 3-12 job, I was required to leave all homework on the table for her viewing when she came home. If any corrections needed to be made I would be woken an hour to three hours earlier than normal to redo the work to her standard, depending on how much work needed to be done. God that woman drove me mad, but she got me As and didn’t take no Bs.

So yes, she was overbearing with very high expectations, but she understood that school and all that came with it had a place in our lives as well. I don’t think the women in this story understand that and I wholeheartedly believe their children will be the ones who pay for it in the end.

I’m curious to know if there are fathers in the homes mentioned. This would bring me to a completely separate, but related topic, of the importance of fathers in the homes of young black men. Some things a mother just cannot teach us as young black men, no matter how good their intentions and efforts are.

Noelle said...

I have to agree about wondering who came up with the ideas presented in talon's letter, most likely a few of the words were not his. However, I am a woman who fully understands home-schooling. I was sent to a private school but that was how many years ago and now every time I turn on the television I see kids beating up some poor student and posting it on youtube. If I as a parent am going to have any say in the things my child learns I need to be fulliy invested. By the time I have a child I will be a college professor and have a teaching certificate. Doesn't that make me a viable option to my child having an exemplary education. New York has failed childern but most importantly new York on a continuous basis fails young black men. Unless you are making amounts close to Jay-z's band account there is no way to guarantee your young boy can gain the qualities of a proper education that he deserves. Yes the mothers in the article are overbearing but look at the statistics of children who are home-schooled and there continuing education. These children seem to do quite well, It's a matter of the ones who are home-schooled being socialized with other children on a continuous basis. On a side note do some research on the law recently passed in california regarding home-schooling. I honestly don't believe that anyone has the right to tell me how or where my child should be educated and I would hazard that the education I give my child will far surpass anything my child will get at ANY American public school, not just New York.

Anonymous said...

Well being a parent of a young black man (to be) i can understand why a mother would feel so complied to homeschool. Its a different time and the Public School system really doesn't care what happens to out young black men. Its a scary to walk near a Public elementary, JHS or even HS and see how these children act. They have no respect for the guards, teachers, parents that may be picking up their children from school. My son now goes to private school and I'm not saying its the best ever but there is a level of respect the children in private school have for authority. If i was able to home school and not have to work i would homeschool my son. Some times a parent can teach their child more in one day than a child could of learned in a whole semester. Somebody has to care about our future black men b/c the public school system sure doesn't. There are times i take my son out of school for a day a take a trip to the museum. We sit and talk about the different things we saw and he has to write a report about his favorite part of the museum. But on the other hand i do believe that the children in this article had some of their lines rehearsed and was told what to say. Children should be able to express themselves how they want with their own words.

BFKASO said...

Perhaps its the constant contradictions in my upbringing but I read through the story and all I could think of was the word "bitchmade". In no way is that a shot at the teacher (tho some would response: go burn a bra)but it seems like the kids although they are becoming worldly they are missing out on the key social development that comes from interacting with kids whose minds are not being groomed like theirs. To me it reads sort of like the perversion of the notion that you can mold a child into the living testament to all of ones hopes, dreams and aspirations. What sort of value system will they develop if despite the afro-centric leanings she profess to teach, their world view becomes I am good and you are not. Isn't that doing society a bit of a dis-service. I could even argue that this is sort of a coping mechanism for the lack of a man in the house..."let me raise him right so he don't become like his daddy". Controversial yes, way off, maybe not.