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"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandela

Home-based Education Growing in Popularity

By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D. |  October 22, 2015 National Center for Policy Analysis

With the failure of the government school monopoly in the 20th century, tension is building between advocates for parental choice and those for federal centralization of power over education.

Underlying the education debate is the debate over the family.  The real question is whether the technocratic state has primary authority over the rearing of children with “education experts” determining what is best for someone else’s child.

The role of parents has been supplanted by the government school monopoly, which by design has undermined the family unit.  The federal government is pulling out all stops to add yet another government grade level to its already failed 13 -- universal pre-K.  More government control over ever younger children will further undermine the family unit.  Because destruction of the family is directly correlated to poverty, this is of great significance to the economic health of our nation.

On the other hand, universal school choice will strengthen the family unit and return the primary role of education to parents.

As the options of school choice grow, one that is increasing in popularity is homeschooling.  No longer is it the domain of the very rich, the religious “kooks,” and the “weirdos.”  Now there is broader ethnic and cultural diversity among homeschooling families with about 15 percent of homeschool families being non-white / non-Hispanic.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the number of home-educated children has risen from 1.09 million in 2003 to 1.77 million in 2012, comprising 3.4 percent of the nation’s school population.

The National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) estimates that about 2.2 million children are being homeschooled in the U.S. with the number growing in many other countries.

The NHERI lists these as the most common reasons for homeschooling:

  • curriculum and learning environment can be customized;
  • more accomplished academically than in schools;
  • can use alternative pedagogical approaches;
  • fosters family relationships;
  • provides guided and reasoned social interactions with peers and adults;
  • safer environment without physical violence, drugs, alcohol, psychological abuse, and improper and unhealthy sexuality associated with institutional schools; and
  • can teach a particular set of values and beliefs.

The scores of homeschooled students are impressive, both academically and for social, emotional, and psychological development.  Academically, home-educated students

  • score 15-30 percentile points above public school students whose average scores on standardized academic achievements tests are at the 50 percentile,
  • score above average on achievement tests regardless of their parents’ level of formal education or their family’s household income, and
  • score above average on the SAT and ACT tests used by some colleges consider for admissions.

For social, emotional, and psychological development, homeschoolers also score above average.

The research on life in the adult world for those homeschooled versus the general population indicates greater participation in local community service, more frequent voting and attending public meetings, graduation from college at an equal or higher rate, and perpetuation of their parents’ values and beliefs at a high rate.

For those who whine that school choice will be the death knell of public education, the facts on school choice and home schooling seem to indicate that, indeed, universal school choice is just what America needs.

Copyright 2015 Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D. All rights reserved

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