Exploring education options: Homeschooling (Part 2)June 15, 2017
School’s out for the summer — you made it through another year, congrats! Now what? This may be a time of transition when you need to find a new school for your kids in the fall. Or, you may be holding out hope to find a better option. To help equip parents for these decisions, we are running a series of Q & A’s on different education options that parents may or may not have considered for various reasons. You can read part one one charter schools here.
Next, we turn to homeschooling. We have two experts in the field to help us:
Brian D. Ray, Ph.D. is founder and president of the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) and Editor‑in‑Chief of the academic journal, Home School Researcher.
Israel Wayne is an author and conference speaker who has a passion for defending the Christian faith and promoting a Biblical worldview. He is the author of several books including Homeschooling from a Biblical Worldview. Find more from Israel at http://www.familyrenewal.org/
In your experience, why do parents typically seek out homeschooling as an option for their kids?
Brian Ray: Over 30 years of research, some of which I have done, and my experience show that the key reasons for homeschooling have not fundamentally changed much in 30 years. Most parents and youth decide to homeschool for more than one reason. The most common reasons given for homeschooling are the following:
- customize or individualize the curriculum and learning environment for each child,
- accomplish more academically than in conventional schools,
- use pedagogical approaches other than those typical in institutional schools,
- enhance family relationships between children and parents and among siblings,
- provide guided and reasoned social interactions with youthful peers and adults,
- provide a safer environment for children and youth, because of physical violence, drugs and alcohol, psychological abuse by teachers, racism, and improper and unhealthy sexuality associated with institutional schools, and
- teach and impart a particular set of values, beliefs, and worldview to children and youth; parents do not want public schools (or other schools) teaching, training, and indoctrinating their children.
In addition, research over the past few years has shown that a notable portion of African American parents who homeschool do so, at least partly, to keep their children away from racism and low expectations of black children that exist in public schools. In addition, Black parents have reasons for homeschooling like anyone else.
The school system we have now has been in place for the last hundred years or so— a public school system funded by local property taxes. But a lot has changed in those 100 years. What challenges do you see to the current system?
Israel Wayne: We have come to accept that our current school system, based on a mandatory tax of property owners, is the best way to provide education for all citizens. What many Christians do not consider is that we have had 6,000 years of human history where humans found a way to be successfully educated without resorting to a socialistic, redistribution of wealth to fund education. If we are to consider what education should look like, I would suggest we consider what people did before the new experiment of government-controlled, tax funded schools that have existed since 1852 in America. Ultimately, overall, we have a far LESS educated society today, than we did before we implemented this socialistic approach.
“In 1650, male literacy in America was 60%. Between 1800 and 1840, literacy in the Northern States increased from 75% to 90%, and in Southern States from 60% to 81%. These increases transpired before the famous Common School Movement led by Horace Mann caught steam. Massachusetts had reached a level of 98% literacy in 1850. This occurred before the state’s compulsory education law of 1852.” https://mises.org/library/free-education-and-literacy
UNESCO says our current U.S. adult literacy rate (as of 2011), is 84.1%.
We should also consider is that what was considered to be “literate” in the U.S. in 1850 was considerably higher than what is considered to be “literate” today. Consider the working vocabulary of Shakespeare, Pilgrim’s Progress, or the King James Version of the Bible (all commonly read in 1850), against the reading level of today’s modern English Bible translations, or other popular books aimed at adult readers.
It seems odd to say that there are no private, free-market driven solutions that could ever work as well as a socialistic one that is predicated on a forced redistribution of wealth. History does not bear this out, and the fact that student test scores have not increased, despite an almost exponential increase in taxation and government spending for schooling, should lead us to give more serious consideration to returning exclusively to privately-funded options for education.
What does the future of homeschooling look like? Particularly how is technology expanding the options?
Israel Wayne: Homeschooling will likely continue to increase at a 2-8% annual growth rate. What is changing is the landscape of educational options, and why parents are choosing these options. It used to be that there were three very distinct categories: Public schools, private schools, and homeschooling.
Increasingly there are hybrid options, like public schooling at home, virtual charter schools, and public/homeschool partnerships.
Betsy DeVos and the Trump administration seem to be trying to create a smorgasbord of educational choices, many of which are tax-funded. In the next few years, I believe private Christian schools and homeschoolers will have an increasing number of opportunities to receive government funds (both state and federal) for their private education efforts.
The concern we should have about this is not merely the increased tax burden to working citizens, but also the threat of increased regulation from the government. What the government pays for, it can also control. This is being seen currently in Alberta, Canada (where I spoke a few weeks ago). The government is forcing all private Christian schools, and homeschoolers, to teach pro-LGBT / transgender curriculum if they receive government funds (which virtually all private schools and homeschoolers there do). They are moving to close a couple of the private schools who have failed to comply.
Technology will continue to change the landscape of contemporary education, both in the school classroom and outside. Increasingly, publishers are looking to utilize iPad and online technology, to save on printing and shipping costs, as well as to create a techno-savvy appeal for Millennial parents. Many homeschoolers are actively seeking digital, online and multimedia learning solutions that relieve them of the time and knowledge needed to teach difficult classes themselves. Even Christian colleges, like Liberty University, are now offering online high school programs, with dual enrollment options, to entice homeschooling parents to not only choose their school for high school but hopefully for higher education as well.
Many parents may feel like a homeschooling is out of reach for them. What encouragement would you give them and what “things do they need to think through” when considering if this the right education option for their family?
Brian Ray: Basically any parents who have the desire and is willing to work diligently can homeschool their children. The education profession and the cult of professionalism has Americans (and others) convinced that regular parents cannot do regular things like teaching children to tie their shoes, teach them their colors, and teach them that the letter “A” makes three sounds in spoken English; it does not take government approval/certification and four years in a college education program to be able to do these things. About 6,000 years of history and 35 years of the modern homeschooling history proves that regular parents are very capable of educating their children in parent-led home-based education.
Oodles of resources are available. Parents can spend $100 per children per year on curriculum, or $1,000. Many support groups exist. Homeschool co-ops exist all over the place. Experienced homeschoolers are around to give advice and encouragement. Parents can do the academic teaching in about 2 hours when it takes a public/private school 6 hours to do the same (and typically of lower effectiveness). Parents who homeschool do not need to replicate institutional schooling. They do not need to be certified. They do not need to spend a lot of money. They can be relaxed, enjoy their children, and get ideas and support and encouragement from real-life homeschool parents in their area, at homeschool conferences, and from scads of online sources. These parents, with their children, do not need to live up to the expectations of government schools, their children’s grandparents, and implied pressures from society. Instead, they need to live up to the high calling of God, figure out what works well for their family (the combination of parents and children), and enjoy together teaching/learning the 3 Rs, some science, some history, and a lot about the mighty Lord God of all creation.
What government regulations or policies should parents be aware of before beginning?
Israel Wayne: Anyone who is beginning homeschooling should become a member of www.HLSDA.org. They are a national organization that provides legal protection for parents who homeschool their children. Their website includes the laws regulating homeschooling in each state, as well as links to various state homeschooling associations.
Most states host a Christian, state homeschooling conference. These events can be found at: www.AmericanHomeEducation.org
Where can parents go to find out about the resources and advice for homeschooling?
Israel Wayne: A great website to get started in the homeschooling process is: www.BeginningHomeschooling.com