Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Home Schooling in America Grows

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Home schooling is growing in America. About three percent of children today are estimated to be home-schooled and that number is growing.

Nine states — Alaska, Idaho, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, and Connecticut — have no notice required for home schooling so that it is, essentially, unregulated; 15 other states have mild regulation of home schooling; 19 states have moderate regulation; and seven states — North Dakota and five states in the Northeast: New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania — have high regulation of home schooling.

Home schools and private schools have historically included many children from religiously serious Christian or Jewish families. Given the federal judicial phobia of any expression of Judeo-Christian traditions or values in public schools, and the propagation of “multi-culturalism” which presents Islam, atheism, and even pagan nature worship as equal or superior to Christianity or Judaism, this flight from politically correct public schools is certain to increase. The introduction of homosexuality as normal, premarital sex as moral, and the obvious partisan bias of many teachers also drive parents away from those schools that their tax dollars support.

The stigma of home schooling is gradually diminishing. Home-schooled children outperform students in public schools on standardized tests. Minority children home-schooled also do better than their counterparts in public schools. The depiction of home-schooled children as missing out on the socialization process that public schools, ostensibly, provide, is also fading fast. Children who are home-schooled, just like children in private schools, often have a rich and varied social life. What these children miss is exposure to drugs, gangs, and similar vices.

The very term “home-schooled” is misleading. Parents can and do pool resources and talents in the education of their children outside the public school system. Field trips to zoos, museums, libraries, and other loci of active, hands-on learning are much easier for homeschooled children. The “student pupil ratio,” held in such grand esteem by those who disdain home schooling, is much lower for children taught by their parents than by harried teachers in public schools. Skipping homework, also, is much more difficult for home-schooled students than for students in public schools.

The tools available for home schooling are impressive and expanding. The future could include a full battery of online testing for home-school students with not only absolute test scores but comparative scores so that parents can see how well their child is doing among a large population of students; online textbooks, which ought to please those “green” Americans who view school textbooks as slaughtered trees; even helpdesks for parents and students when difficult questions arise. Technology points toward guided instruction, not the cookie-cutter teaching of public school classrooms.

Home schooling is much cheaper than public school education. If government is looking for ways to reduce costs, active encouragement of home schooling as a serious option ought to be promoted and encouraged. If most children were home-schooled, then many schools could become public parks or libraries, and all the fossil fuels used to drive children to school, to heat, light, and air condition schools, and other activities that are anathema to environmentalists could be avoided. Public schools could always be the option for parents who, for whatever reason, cannot home-school their children or send their children to private schools, but the public policy of promoting private instruction of students could solve many problems that government currently and clumsily tries to solve through the expenditure of vast government resources and the hyper-regulation of education in many states.

These advantages to home schooling have been known for some time, and have been documented many times in many studies. Why, then, is there such latent hostility to home schooling by some Americans? Public school teachers and administrators are highly dependent upon allocations of government funds tied to public school populations. However much home schooling helps children, it hurts these folks. Public schools, also, have become re-education camps in many cases. The function is not to teach so much as to instill common values. Finally, if home schooling worked and demonstrated how easily government programs could be replaced by private citizens, then the rationale for much of government would be exposed as largely false.

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