The Home School Court Report
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Cover Story
The new pioneers: Black home schoolers

On the frontier: Four home school families

Special Features
Kentucky teen finally free to home school

Membership statistics—Top ten states

Across the States
State by State

Regular Features
Freedom Watch

Active Cases

Notes to members

Prayer and Praise

President's Page

HSLDA legal contacts for April 2001

C O V E R   S T O R Y

THE DOUGLASES explore creation (clockwise from left): Karen, Christopher I, Brittany (8), Christopher II (5), and Charles-Anthony (18 months).

The Douglas family

We are going into our fifth year of home schooling. When our oldest child, Brittany, was 4, we felt God calling us to home school. We knew other families in the church who were home schooling. Our church is integrated, and we never got any negative feedback from church members.

Our parents did ask us, "Is that legal? Aren't you going to get in trouble? How will you know that they are at the proper level?" They were never unsupportive, but they wanted to make sure their grandbabies would get a good education.

On the other hand, some families we know are having serious problems. Their church members don't accept their children. For example, their church hands out awards for children's performance (good grades) in school, but they don't acknowledge the home schoolers.

Some of my friends think I am "uppity" for home schooling. "You don't even have a degree." They seem to feel, "You don't think public school is good enough for your children." And they seem threatened by our decision until they understand it more. When we're trying to share with our friends about home schooling, we have to step out in faith. We are not relying on our own abilities, but on God's grace.

The best thing other home schoolers can do to help is pray and show the world that there are Black home schoolers.

- Karen Douglas

THE DOUTHITS enjoy a field trip at the Bronx Zoo. L-R: Robin, Zoe (2), Will, and Bill (10).
The Douthit family

Home schooling has been a great blessing to our family. We have been home schooling for five years now and with each year, God has taught my husband and me something new about His love, His faithfulness, and His power in our lives. We have not yet begun to formally home school our daughter Zoe, as she is only 2 years old. But home schooling our son Bill, who is 10 years old, has given us great insight into his heart and has helped us in developing his character-something we may never have had the opportunity to experience had we sent him to school (public or private).

Raising children is no easy feat, especially in New York City! But God has shown us the blessing of home schooling in such a busy metropolis (museums and cultural centers are at our fingertips!). We will continue to do so with His guidance. One of our favorite Bible verses is Proverbs 3:5-6. It has guided us through periods of burnout, doubt, and choosing the right curriculum. We trust that God's word will continue to guide us throughout our home schooling odyssey.

- Robin Douthit

The Smith family

THE SMITHS take a break in the middle of Six Flags fun (clockwise from center): Margo, Tim, Asia (4), Jasper (8), Ariane (11), and Carlton (7).

I began hearing about home schooling when our oldest child was 4. What a wonderful alternative-just not for our family! But God surrounded me with home schoolers who were praying for us. Gradually, my heart was drawn toward home schooling as the Lord showed me that He equips us for the tasks He sets before us. Although my husband, Tim, was not at all receptive to home schooling, I began praying for God to help us discern His will and to line up our will with His.

Months later, I encouraged Tim to attend the Southeast Texas Home School Association (SETHSA) Conference. After less than an hour at the conference, my husband told me that we were definitely going to home school our children. God is awesome!

Well, being African Americans and deciding to home school was the genesis of many challenges. Surprisingly, our first hurdle was our close family and friends. Many were adamantly against educating our children at home. Home schooling was not only unheard of in the African-American community, but it also had become known as "a white experience." It was certainly not for Blacks. Our family was not cheered on or supported like Jackie Robinson was after he joined the Dodgers. Instead, we were treated like freaks or outcasts. Even our young children felt the sting of the stigma attached to home schooling. They felt uncomfortable or almost embarrassed when people asked, "What school do you attend?" There was rarely a positive response to the answer of home schooling.

We were attending an all-Black Baptist church when we began home schooling. Needless to say, we did not receive much positive reinforcement there. I suppose the older people felt as though we were tossing away a privilege that Black folks fought so diligently to attain-the right to intermingle with children of different races while gaining a good education in public schools. Younger opposers felt that we were just trying to be "white." A close acquaintance once told me that I had allowed myself to be brainwashed by white folks; I should wake up and send our children to a "real" school. Although the majority of the comments we received in the beginning were negative, we experienced priceless support from my parents, sister, and a few others. As we are now moving "full steam ahead" into our seventh year of home schooling, our decision to home school is more widely accepted, but we are still considered a little eccentric.

I can remember going through a tough time some years ago, feeling so very alone as an African-American home schooler that I wrote Oprah Winfrey a letter. I shared my plight with Oprah and thought it would be a great help to not only African-Americans but also to all home schoolers if she would do a show on the benefits of home schooling. Perhaps the show would give others an alternative to public or the "normal" private schooling. At the very least, it would expand the perspective of all the nay-sayers. Unfortunately, I have heard another African-American talk-show host allude to home schooling as abuse.

Last year a fellow home schooling friend, Karen Douglas, gave birth to a brain-child which unites several African-American home schooling moms. We call our small support group S.H.I.N.E. (Sisters Home schooling In the Name of the Eternal One.) We do not meet often, but when we do, it's so refreshing to share with others who are in the same "boat" going through the same "storms."

- Margo Vaughn Smith

The Thomas family

THE THOMASES celebrate Deborah's high school graduation (Back row) Daniel C., Deborah N., Cynthia C., and Simeon N. (Front row) Alfred L. and Beverly A. Thomas. (Not pictured-grown children: Roy B. Griffin and Kirstie A. Hansel)

Our family has been home educating since September 1985. We first heard about home schooling when Bill Gothard explained his vision for restoring the families of the inner city. Five of our six children graduated from our home school program, and our youngest just graduated in June.

I remember grieving over leaving my mom and later, as my siblings came along, over having to leave them. Reflecting on those years, I realized that "going to school" was a key to the breakdown in our relationships. But through home schooling, I could give our youngsters an opportunity to develop the most important relationship of all, a relationship with Christ. As we worked toward this goal, we developed deep, meaningful, loving relationships with one another.

As we have chosen to follow the Lord's leading in training our children, we have met with opposition. However, the love of Christ through us has won more to us than we have lost.

The time we have spent together has opened many opportunities to minister. Our children sing beautifully together, although practices are harder to schedule as they grow older. The four younger children play the piano, flute, clarinet, guitar, and violin. (Our eldest says she plays the radio like her dad!)

Home educating has educated and matured all of us. The brokenness we have experienced during our journey has given us the precious privilege of sharing the healing power and comfort of our Lord. Home schooling has expanded our influence upon others and their influence upon us across this wonderful continent of ours.

- Beverly A. Thomas