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Posts Tagged ‘Home Schooling’

So far, our acknowledgement of National Education week has addressed the following topics.

  • Part I looked at the deteriorating performance of government schools.
  • Part II reviewed the evidence for school choice.
  • Part III explained how government subsidies make higher education more costly.
  • Part IV addressed the controversy over teacher compensation.

Today, let’s look at home schooling, which is what occurs when parents take responsibility for directing the education of their children. For general background on this issue, I recommend this article on “100 Reasons to Homeschool Your Kids” and this article on “7 Persistent Myths about Homeschoolers Debunked.”

And for those interested, here’s a map showing if and how home schooling is regulated across the United States.

I want to focus on whether home schooling produces good results.

J.D. Tuccille looks at the data in an article for Reason.

Based on such evidence, homeschooling is enjoying a boom, as growing numbers of families with diverse backgrounds, philosophies, and approaches abandon government-controlled schools in favor of taking responsibility for their own children’s education. …”From 1999 to 2012, the percentage of students who were homeschooled doubled, from an estimated 1.7 percent to 3.4 percent,” reports the National Center for Education Statistics. …In 2014, SAT “test scores of college-bound homeschool students were higher than the national average of all college-bound seniors that same year,” according to NHERI. “Mean ACT Composite scores for homeschooled students were consistently higher than those for public school students” from 2001 through 2014, according (PDF) to that testing organization, although private school students scored higher still.

As reported by USA Today, home-schooled students are better educated.

…children who are home-schooled often face classic stereotypes of being strange or different than children educated in traditional schools when they enter college. …While the most common reason for homeschooling remains to be religious or moral beliefs, the number of secular homeschooling groups in the United States is growing, as is the overall number of home-schooled children. …According to a 2007 survey, more than 1.5 million children in the United States are home-schooled, which represents about 2.9% of school-aged children. …home-schooled students generally score slightly above the national average on both the SAT and the ACT and often enter college with more college credits. Studies have also shown that on average home-schooled students have higher grade point averages in their freshman years and have higher graduation rates than their peers. …studies have begun chipping away at the conception of home-schooling as socially stunting students – research shows that on average home-schooled students routinely participate in eight social activities outside of the home, and typically consume considerably less television than do traditionally-educated students. They are also…less susceptible to peer pressure.

The good news isn’t limited to the United States.

Home-schooled kids also outperform their peers in the U.K., as reported by the Guardian.

Children taught at home significantly outperform their contemporaries who go to school, the first comparative study has found. It discovered that home-educated children of working-class parents achieved considerably higher marks in tests than the children of professional, middle-class parents and that gender differences in exam results disappear among home-taught children. …The number of home-educated children in Britain has grown from practically none 20 years ago to about 150,000 today – around 1 per cent of the school age population. By the end of the decade, the figure is expected to have tripled. …Paula Rothermel, a lecturer in learning in early childhood at the University of Durham, who spent three years conducting the survey…said: ‘This study is the first evidence we have proving that home education is a huge benefit to large numbers of children….” She found that 65 per cent of home-educated children scored more than 75 per cent in a general mathematics and literacy test, compared to a national figure of only 5.1 per cent. The average national score for school-educated pupils in the same test was 45 per cent, while that of the home-educated children was 81 per cent. …Rothermel found that the children of working-class, poorly-educated parents significantly outperformed their middle-class contemporaries. While the five- to six-year old children of professional parents scored only 55.2 per cent in the test, children far lower down the social scale scored 71 per cent.

By the way, this isn’t a new issue. Here are some passages from a column that Professor Don Boudreaux wrote more than 20 years ago.

Americans are increasingly aware that government education specialists in charge of K-12 government schools are lousy educators. …these alleged specialists are so bad that non-specialist parents outperform them at the task of education. The average home-schooled child scores in the 85th percentile on standardized achievement tests a full 35 points higher than the score registered by the average public-school student. …it isn’t the case that K-12 education bureaucrats have no specialized skills. Indeed, they are exquisitely specialized. The problem is that their specialty isn’t education; it’s political lobbying.

Given all these positive results, no wonder ever-greater numbers of parents are opting for homeschooling.

Needless to say, the education monopoly doesn’t like this form of competition.

Home schoolers constantly need to defend their rights in the United States.

At over two million young people, the number of US homeschoolers is comparable to the number of US students enrolled in public charter schools, and it is now considered a worthwhile education option for many families. …In many ways, this freedom, flexibility, and family-centered learning are terrifying to the state. Despite the fact that homeschooling has been legally recognized in all 50 states since 1993, attempts to limit homeschooling freedoms are ongoing. …efforts to tighten homeschooling regulations have been spotlighted in New Hampshire and Iowa, and homeschoolers in the United Kingdom are now dealing with mounting pressure… An underlying theme in these calls for regulating homeschoolers is that parents can’t be trusted… Considering the fact that…homeschooling students continue to outrank their schooled peers in academic performance – we should wonder who really knows best how to educate kids.

Unsurprisingly, California’s politicians are hostile to home schooling.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that there’s effective opposition from home-schooling families.

They came by the hundreds, one newspaper said—“perhaps thousands.” Some traveled hours, others waited hours, all for the opportunity to protest one of the most outrageous homeschooling bills ever introduced: California’s AB 2756. …the bill tried to mandate fire inspections of all homeschooling families (which, not surprisingly, firefighters rejected). Then the proposal was amendedthis time to force homeschooling families to give out private information… Hours later, families got the news they’d been waiting for“no member of the committee was willing to make a motion for a vote.” The bill was dead.

Some nations have a very punitive approach that makes California seem like a libertarian paradise.

Germany, for instance, has a horrid policy of prohibiting home schooling and persecuting families.

In August 2013, more than 30 police officers and social workers stormed the home of the Wunderlich family. The authorities brutally removed the children from their parents and their home, leaving the family traumatized. The children were ultimately returned to their parents but their legal status remained unclear as Germany is one of the few European countries that penalizes families who want to homeschool. After courts in Germany ruled in favour of the government, the European Court of Human Rights agreed to take up the case in August 2016. Now, the Court has ruled against the German family, disregarding their right to private family life. …“This judgement is a huge setback but we will not give up the fight to protect the fundamental right of parents to homeschool their children in Germany and across Europe,” said Mike Donnelly, international homeschooling expert and Director of Global Outreach for the Home School Legal Defense Association which has long supported the family in their legal struggles.

One other point worth sharing is that home schooling is not merely an option for white evangelicals.

Tracy Jan of the Washington Post writes about the benefits of home schooling from a left-of-center, minority perspective.

…we recently began researching educational alternatives for the future — including the idea of home schooling. …As he entered kindergarten as a 5-year-old in August, I wondered what he would learn about the flag, about our country’s history, about the Founding Fathers. I doubted that the public schools, even in progressive D.C., would keep it real. …In addition to worrying about the Eurocentric bias in most schools’ history curriculums, I do not want our son to fall victim to teacher biases. …Home schooling, we thought, could be the answer to many of these concerns. …The concept of schooling as parents see fit — freed from the constraints of bureaucracy and school board politics — appealed to me. So did the tight bonds that I saw develop when parents become not only provider and disciplinarian, but also teacher. …in many ways, the District makes it easy: Parents simply need to submit a one-page form to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. They also are required to keep a portfolio of instruction… The number of home-schooled students in the city has doubled to roughly 400 since the office began tracking the data in 2008. D.C. does not break the numbers down by race, but, nationally, black home schooling has been on the rise. The number of African American children who are home-schooled grew by roughly 10 percent, to more than 200,000, between 2012 and 2016… DeLise Bernard, a former policy staffer for a previous D.C. mayor, and her husband, Rahsaan, executive director of THEARC, a nonprofit in Southeast Washington that provides educational, cultural and social service programs…decided to home-school their three children because, as Rahsaan puts it, “we refuse to allow the prevailing culture to determine ours.” They wanted to exert maximum influence over their children’s character development, grounded in their Christian faith, teaching them to deeply love their fellow human beings. …Armah, an audio engineer, musician and poet…decided to home-school his twin boys… “I’m not afraid of my children being exposed to everyone else and hearing opposing ideas,” Armah says. “I’m not afraid of my children being okay in public schools. But my goal is for them to be more than okay.”

Wow, lots of encouraging and inspiring information.

And it’s worth noting that many other minority families are choosing to home school their kids (which shouldn’t be a surprise considering the wretched overall performance of government schools).

Let’s close by circling back to the issue of whether home schooling produces good results.

Based on these two charts from Homeschool World, the answer is yes.

The first chart looks at how home-schooled kids perform in college.

And the second chart looks at how they score standardized tests.

P.S. To add a bit of levity, here’s a very funny video about a home-schooled family.

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One of the few success stories in American education is the home-schooling movement. About two million kids are being taught by their parents and the evidence is overwhelming that these students get a far better education than children in government schools. And since my youngest kid was home schooled for a couple of years, I can personally testify that it often is the right approach.

But the real reason for this post is to share this very clever and funny video from Tim Hawkins (creator of the tremendously successful song parody, “The Government Can”).

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