Homeschooling is a rapidly growing movement in the US and internationally. Parents choose to remove their students from school and teach them individually or in groups with other homeschoolers. Families choose to homeschool for a variety of reasons and face different challenges in their efforts to fully educate their children.
This year, bills were introduced in at least 14 state legislatures, including Pennsylvania's, to require school districts to open extracurricular activities, and sometimes classes, to home-schooled children, say groups that track the issue. Fourteen states already require such access, while most others leave the decision to local school boards.
As some totalitarian-minded governments escalate their attacks on parental rights and homeschooling, the Vatican’s delegation to the United Nations called on the world to respect families, the rights of parents to direct the upbringing of their children, and non-governmental forms of education. The Holy See’s representatives also called on governments last week to stop indoctrinating the youth.
The 2003 survey gave parents six reasons to pick as their motivation. (They could choose more than one.) The 2007 survey added a seventh: an interest in a "non-traditional approach," a reference to parents dubbed "unschoolers," who regard standard curriculum methods and standardized testing as counterproductive to a quality education.
The number of home-schooled kids hit 1.5 million in 2007, up 74% from when the Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics started keeping track in 1999, and up 36% since 2003. The percentage of the school-age population that was home-schooled increased from 2.2% in 2003 to 2.9% in 2007. "There's no reason to believe it would not keep going up," says Gail Mulligan, a statistician at the center.
While estimates vary widely, most observers acknowledge that conservative Christians constitute the largest subset of homeschoolers in the United States (the 2006 documentary film Jesus Camp uses a 75 percent figure, but this seems likely an exaggeration prompted by the dominant profile of groups such as HSLDA).
An overview of these studies indicate that the typical home schooling family is white, a two-parent family, likely to be somewhat more affluent and of a somewhat higher education attainment than families nationally, and Protestant. In this typical family, religion is likely to be the most important motivation for home schooling but it is rare he only motivation.
In 1997, a study of 5,402 homeschool students from 1,657 families was released. It was entitled, "Strengths of Their Own: Home Schoolers Across America." The study demonstrated that homeschoolers, on the average, out-performed their counterparts in the public schools by 30 to 37 percentile points in all subjects. A significant finding when analyzing the data for 8th graders was the evidence that homeschoolers who are homeschooled two or more years score substantially higher than students who have been homeschooled one year or less.
However implicitly, home education’s earliest advocates understood all of this. They made their arguments legitimate by speaking in harmony with some resonant chords in American culture: our belief that all people are individuals, with rights; our suspicion that “experts” are not as trustworthy as common sense; and our worries that government is too intrusive and does not serve us very well. Homeschool advocates innovated on these notions by pitting them against a new target— school. And they often did so with elegant simplicity and gut-hitting emotion.
In the 1980s, Dr. Raymond Moore and his wife, Dorothy Moore, did some research on early childhood education. As a result, they found that formal schooling damages young children's minds in different ways, and that they can learn better at home.
According to Stanford admissions, “Homeschooled students comprise a small yet growing percentage of our applicant pool.” Princeton “welcomes” homeschooled applicants, noting that one homeschooler went on to graduate as the university’s Class of 2002 valedictorian. And at Duke, admissions materials state: “For the past several years, homeschooled students have been admitted to Duke at a rate equal to or higher than that for the entire applicant pool.”