New book: Homeschooling, the little option that could

12 Oct

Moi wrote about homeschools in Homeschooling is becoming more mainstream:

Parents and others often think of school choice in terms of public school or private school. There is another option and that is homeschooling. Homeschooling is one option in the school choice menu. There are fewer children being homeschooled than there are in private schools. There are fewer children in private education, which includes homeschools than in public education. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the vast majority of students attend public schools. Complete statistics can be found at Fast Education Facts

The question, which will be discussed at the end of this comment, is: What is so scary about school choice? After all, the vast majority of children are enrolled in public school and school choice is not going to change that.

What is Homeschooling?

Family Education defines homeschooling. 

Homeschooling means learning outside of the public or private school environment. The word “home” is not really accurate, and neither is “school.” For most families, their “schooling” involves being out and about each day, learning from the rich resources available in their community, environment, and through interactions with other families who homeschool.

Essentially, homeschooling involves a commitment by a parent or guardian to oversees their child or teen’s educational development. There are almost two million homeschoolers in this country.

There is no one federal law, which governs homeschooling. Each state regulates homeschooling, so state law must be consulted. The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has a summary of each state’s laws. State Homeschool Laws The American Homeschool Association (AHA) has resources such as FAQ and the history of homeschooling at AHA

Jay Mathews has written an interesting Washington Post article, Hidden rival to charter schools:

So it is good to see Vanderbilt University scholar Joseph Murphy’s new book, “Homeschooling in America: Capturing and Assessing the Movement,” the best work so far on this phenomenon. He begins with a refreshing confession of ignorance. “There is not an overabundance of solid empirical work on homeschooling,” he says. “Much of the literature in this area comprises testimonials and pieces that explain how to successfully start and conduct a homeschool.

His analysis exposes an odd difference in the way we talk about charters and home-schooling. We think home-schooling is about the parents — their motives, their skills, their strengths and weaknesses. The charter movement is also a story of parents, but we don’t talk about it that way. The charter schools are the heroes if we like the charter movement. The charter schools are the villains if we don’t. We rarely praise or blame parents for what charters have done.

This gets at the heart of why home-schooling has blossomed. “The hallmark issue in the home-schooling movement is control,” Murphy says. “As power and influence were passed from parents and communities to government agents and professional experts throughout the 20th century, real costs were experienced by parents, costs calculated in terms of loss of control over the schooling of their children.”

Commentary on home-schooling often examines the religious motives of parents. They want God to be more a part of their children’s educations than modern public schools allow. But research shows, Murphy says, that in the growth of home-schooling “ideological rationales in general and religious-based motivations in particular, although still quite significant, are becoming less important.”

Scholars say parents are more likely to switch to home-schooling if they see the academic quality of their local schools decline or the number of low-income students in those schools increase.

The average incomes of home-schooling families are above the public school average. Like most such parents, their children’s achievement scores are better than the national average. “Greater wealth is positively associated with additional home-schooling, most likely because higher income provides the opportunity for one parent to stay at home,” Murphy says. “But past some point on the continuum, home-schooling turns downward as costs of forgone income by keeping one parent out of the labor force rise to unacceptable levels.” Such families, the research indicates, then look for private schools.

Most of us public school people wonder if home-schooling stifles children’s social development. What little data is available says no. “At a minimum this concept is likely overblown and more likely is without foundation,” Murphy says.

So home-schooling grows with the same surprising speed and volume as charter schools. Our debate about charters is rooted in some useful data. By contrast, we still don’t know much about home-schooling. Nor does there seem to be much effort to close that information gap.

See, Homeschooling Research Notes

Many of our children are “unschooled” and a far greater number are “uneducated.” One can be “unschooled” or “uneducated” no matter the setting. As a society, we should be focused on making sure that each child receives a good basic education. There are many ways to reach that goal. There is nothing scary about the fact that some parents make the choice to homeschool. The focus should not be on the particular setting or institution type. The focus should be on proper assessment of each child to ensure that child is receiving a good basic education and the foundation for later success in life.


Hybrid’ homeschooling is growing                              

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