The public education system in North Carolina has spent plenty of time in the spotlight lately.
Governor Beverly Perdue's announced recently the state will take unprecedented action to help a low performing school district. State employee cuts are taking a bite out of teacher paychecks.
Another story in the spotlight: Parents moving away from public education to become the new face of home schooling.
Daniel and Bobbie Williams, who are black, decided to home school their five children, and they have faced criticism because of that decision.
The Williams are not alone. Of the nearly 2 million children schooled at home, the number of black families has grown by 40,000 in the last few years to a whopping 140,000. That makes blacks the largest number of minorities joining the home schooling movement. That jump in numbers has researchers looking for a cause.
Some believe school systems are not doing very well in providing a quality education for African American students.
The public school system in our state shows a 30 percent achievement gap between blacks and whites. According to the state board of education department of public instruction, when a black child starts kindergarten, the gap is already half its ultimate size. By fourth grade, blacks are at least two years behind whites. That number jumps to as much as three years by eighth grade.
Ozie Hall at the Kinston Charter Academy says the numbers directly represent a lack of training for those leading increasingly multi-cultural classrooms.
"When you begin to see certain teachers do well with middle class white students, but everybody else is failing, there is something wrong with that picture," Hall said, "because you have teachers only teaching to students they can relate to culturally and socially and everybody else falls by the wayside."
Hall does stress many African American parents are committed to the public school system because of the struggle of those who led the civil rights movement and fought and died for equal education for all.
"They are committed to the public education system because they have hope that the public education system can ultimately provide them with quality education," Hall said. "Because it isn't right now, some parents lose hope."
That's one reason the Williams decided to become the North Carolina respresentatives for the National Association For Black Home Educators.
"They knew a lot of African Americans wanted to home school but didn't know how to get started."
The Williams advise families considering home schooling to not go it alone, get educated on the state rules and then set up a system that works for you.