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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

P R E S I D E N T ’ S   P A G E

J. Michael Smith, PresidentEncouraging the new pioneers

This issue's cover story is a must read. As I travel to home school conferences around the country, I am encouraged to see the increasing number of African-American families discovering the blessings of home schooling. In this article, we feature two new organizations that have arisen to provide black home schoolers with specific resources, encouragement, and fellowship-the National Black Home Educators Resource Association (NBHERA) and the Network of Black Homeschoolers (NBH).

NBHERA founders Eric and Joyce Burges and NBH founders Gilbert and Gloria Wilkerson are true pioneers. Their struggles will sound familiar to another group of home school pioneers-the families who broke the trail of the modern home school movement in the 1970s and 1980s. I recognize many of the challenges many black parents are dealing with as very similar to the ones my family faced when we began home schooling in 1981.

  • Overcoming stereotypes. Today, African-Americans often must combat negative, media-driven stereotypes. Twenty years ago, nearly every home schooler had to overcome the public school establishment's loudly asserted myth that no one was qualified to teach a child without a teaching certificate.

  • Obtaining the right materials. Black home educators often must search far and wide to find curriculum and other resources specific to their needs. Early home schoolers faced similar difficulties.

  • Facing cultural opposition. As the African-American home schoolers often find opposition within their own culture, the early home school pioneers found opposition from family members, neighbors, and churches.

  • Feeling you are "the only one out there." Meeting another home school family was so rare that, when it happened, it not only made your day, it made your week and your month! It was so encouraging to meet another person who believed like you did.

    Enter NBHERA and NBH. These organizations seek to help black home schooling parents meet these challenges.

    Through this educational alternative, more and more African-Americans are discovering a road to hope, not just for their children's academic success, but also for their families and communities.

    I think it is critical to the success of black home schoolers that these two new organizations continue growing stronger. Why? Because I believe the success of the modern home schooling movement is largely due to national, state, and local home school networking. I encourage you to pray for, contribute to, become involved in, and subscribe to the newsletters of NBHERA and NBH. (See pages 6 and 7 for contact information.)

    These are our brothers and sisters, the next wave of courageous pioneers in a movement that we know already has great value.

    What a blessing it is to see these two organizations rise up at such a crucial time in our nation to bless the African-American home school community.

    As we journey down the home school trail together, let's encourage these new pioneers and do all we can to help them succeed. In the words of Solomon:

    Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
    -Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NKJ)