|February 25th, 2008||#1|
A decade of overcoming obstacles
By Michael Smith
Each new year brings many opportunities and challenges, a fair characterization of what the home-school movement has faced over the past 10 years.
We are midway through the first decade of the 21st century, and home-schoolers have come a long way since the mid-'90s.
Then, people questioned the socialization of home-schoolers. The myth of non-socialization is being put to rest. A new study from the National Home Education Research Institute shows that home-schoolers are growing up to be mature, productive citizens.
Home-schooling has grown from about 1.2 million children 10 years ago to just more than 2 million today.
Home-schoolers regularly score higher than their public school counterparts on standardized tests and compete successfully with the best students in the world. Home-schoolers continue to gain entry to college and succeed in the workplace.
Home-school families save taxpayers an average of more than $7,000 per child per year because they are not using public education services.
In the mid-'90s, it was difficult to find a full range of curriculum providers. In 2005, thousands of providers vie for a piece of the $750 million market. If the growth in home-schooling continues at its recent yearly rate of 7 percent to 15 percent, the home-school market will break the $1 billion barrier in a few years.
Opportunities are opening on every front. In the mid-'90s, there were only a few fledgling sports teams for home-schooled students and hardly any organized leagues. Ten years later, home-schoolers have two national basketball tournaments, a small football league and a softball league. Several home-school athletes are competing for positions in college leagues.
Ten years have made a tremendous difference. An objective observer would conclude that private one-on-one tutoring is one of the best educational options available.
More parents are considering home-schooling and are seeing the results of a home education. In the mid-'90s, the number of home-school graduates was small, as many children were still in schooling. Now, more than 50,000 home-school graduates are working in a wide range of jobs or continuing their educations in college. These graduates are succeeding and are the final proof that a home education works.
Despite this incredible progress, challenges remain for home-schoolers. Education authorities continue to harass home-school families.
School districts lose an average of $7,000 per child per year once a child is removed from public school. Regrettably, some school administrators are threatened by the loss of revenue. Others are still reluctant to accept the idea that noncertified teachers can be effective.
Consequently, many families who choose home-schooling continue to be challenged and turn to the Home School Legal Defense Association to smooth their transition from public school.
Some social workers are predisposed against home-schoolers and attempt to make unconstitutional intrusions into the family home. HSLDA fields hundreds of calls per month from member families who have had negative contacts with state authorities as a result of home-schooling.
The past 10 years have seen many changes. Home-schooling is coming of age. It seems, however, that it will take much longer for entrenched opponents to realize their error.
When state agencies uniformly recognize the success of the home-school movement, America's parents will have increased confidence in this method of education and America's children will be educated in a way that will prepare them for the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century.
Michael Smith is the president of the Home School Legal Defense Association. He may be contacted at 540/338-5600; or send e-mail to [email protected].
Last edited by Alex Linder; February 25th, 2008 at 11:26 AM.
|February 25th, 2008||#2|
- Nationwide, about 2.2 percent of the school-age population, or one child in 45, is taught at home. According to the Education Department, there were 1.1 million home-schoolers as of 2003. [HSLDA says 2 million.]
According to the Department of Education, 1.1 million students nationwide were being home schooled in the spring of 2003 — a 29 percent increase since 1999. The figures also show that the number grows 7 to 15 percent every year.
The public school system is 90,000 schools strong, 3 million teachers wide, 47 million students deep. So while it's easy enough to demand euthanasia, it's another thing entirely to actually kill the beast.
- public school system that burns through $500 billion a year
- network of 9,000 HSers in Nebraska
- Home-school students, for instance, have consistently outperformed the national average on the ACT college entrance exam: 22.5 compared with 20.9 in 2005.
- For Nebraska's Class of 2005, 103 home-school students who took the ACT scored a 22.9 on average, compared with the state average of 21.8.
Last edited by Alex Linder; February 25th, 2008 at 07:49 PM.
|February 25th, 2008||#3|
Political Resistance Continues
by J. Michael Smith
Do you believe America always will be safe for homeschooling? Most people might be tempted to say yes, but the reality could be different.
We should remember that after the advent of compulsory education, it was only during the past 25 years that America formally recognized homeschooling in all 50 states. To illustrate how far we have come, as recently as 1983, seven fathers in Nebraska were jailed for their decision to homeschool their children.
Also in 1983, homeschooling was effectively illegal in 45 states because those states mandated that parents must have four-year teaching certificates before they could teach their own children.
In the early ’80s, it was clear there was a need for homeschoolers to come together and fight for their fundamental right to raise their own children without government-imposed mandates.
The Home School Legal Defense Association is approaching its 25th anniversary. Today, homeschooling is thriving throughout the country and is acknowledged widely as an educational success story. Homeschooling, however, increasingly is being challenged in state legislatures across the country.
Every year, particularly between January and May, when many state legislatures conduct most of their activity, HSLDA’s legal department works long hours tracking legislation across all 50 states.
This year, we have seen a significant spike in the number of anti-home-school bills. The fight to maintain homeschool freedom is far from over.
One of the most anti-homeschooling bills came from Nebraska. Partly because of Nebraska’s history, the legislation introduced by state Sen. DiAnna Schimek was particularly troubling.
It called for numerous state-administered tests and the approval of homeschools by the Nebraska Department of Education. If passed, it effectively would have banned homeschooling in Nebraska and could have led to parents being jailed again.
It seemed Nebraska was on the road to repeating its past mistakes. Fortunately, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman announced that he would veto the legislation if it ever reached his desk. HSLDA is thankful that the governor stepped forward, but Miss Schimek’s action is a vivid reminder that the fight to maintain our freedom is an ongoing battle.
Several other states have introduced bills that in one way or another would increase the bureaucratic burden on homeschooling families. In particular, Tennessee and Mississippi both have introduced legislation that would force state assessments on homeschoolers. Once the government is allowed to set tests for homeschoolers, homeschooling is undermined as a viable educational choice because parents are forced to use the state-mandated curriculum and teach to the test rather than make their own choice of curriculum.
Flexibility in choosing curriculum is vital to homeschooling because each child is unique and has an individual learning style.
These types of continuing threats galvanize homeschoolers throughout the country. While homeschoolers are active and engaged citizens, we always must be mindful that homeschool freedom is fragile.
It can be lost without vigilant action on the part of all homeschoolers. As an organization with more than 80,000 members, HSLDA will continue its mission—which can continue only with the active participation of our members—and work with state organizations to make sure we do not lose any of our hard-won freedoms.
We do not know what the future holds, but we do know that an active, engaged homeschool community can significantly affect the outcome of legislative battles, even when the forces arrayed against homeschoolers are large and powerful.
Michael Smith is the president of the Home School Legal Defense Association. He may be contacted at (540)338-5600; or send email to [email protected].