Why don't more African Americans school their children at home? By many accounts, there is every reason to avoid public schools, with their low academic expectations for black children, their general avoidance of black history, and their reputation for violence and negative peer pressure. The reason may be found in the opening pages of Freedom Challenge, a collection of essays by people of color who homeschool. "I can't do it because I'm black," one teenager sadly insists after listening to a speaker tout the advantages of homeschooling. "I walk into some business to get a job, they want to see my diploma, I tell them I educated myself according to my own interests, and it's over. They say, 'Right. Another dropped out nigger.'" With that bold beginning, this book sets out to challenge that notion and encourage others to buck the system. It does so by example; the essays are all penned by parents and children who have taken the leap into homeschooling. Their experiences, written in lively, insightful passages and accompanied by black-and-white family photos, should inspire others to follow. The contributors are 20 families who span the globe, including one military family of six that takes its homeschool on the road to Japan and another that lives on a boat in a co-op community in a Sausalito, California, harbor. While the book primarily focuses on African Americans, it includes two multiracial families. The stories--some written in first person, others in a question-and-answer format--are frank and revealing. One essay deals with the issue of racial politics when a black homeschooling network is challenged by an Asian family entering the group. Editor Grace Llewellyn, a white former teacher who has written two other books on home education (Real Lives: Eleven Teenagers Who Don't Go to School and The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education) closes with a helpful list of books, magazines, and other resources primarily aimed at multicultural homeschoolers. The combination makes this a rare, mandatory read for anyone who falls into either category. --Jodi Mailander Farrell
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