CNN has a story about the growth of home schooling in the United States, which has increased by 29% since 1999.
What I found interesting about the article isn’t the growth of home schooling — it’s hardly a surprise to anyone outside of liberal circles (and maybe them as well), it’s this paraphrase from Ted Feinberg, assistant executive director of the National Association of School Psychologists:
Home schooling presents several questions that must be considered, he said. Among them: Do parents with no formal training as teachers know how to handle a variety of subjects or to tailor instruction for children of different ages? Do students get the same materials they would have at schools, from books to science labs? Are families with two working parents prepared to live off a single income so that one parent can teach at home?
This, I think points to the heart of the problem with public education in America (or at least the heart of one of its problems). Faced with the reality of millions of parents and children opting out of public education, Mr. Feinberg says that the practice “presents several questions” … but not one of those questions asks what public schools can do to win parents back. Every one attacks the qualifications of parents to teach their kids, and not a one of those questions turns an inward glance at the system these people are abandoning.
Now it could just be the way the story was written — maybe the AP reporter who wrote it is responsible for this focus, and represents his or her bias at work, but some how I doubt it.
My sense of what this means? Parents are desparate for choices in education. Public education stifles those choices at every turn, with the major teachers unions actively campaigning against tax credits and vouchers. Private schools are something many people can’t afford, but home-schooling — which has a burgeoning support structure in which parents work with others to teach their kids — is.
I think that the public education establishment views home-schoolers as a threat to their order, potentially as large a threat as vouchers, alternative schools, and tax credits. Rather than help pursue academic intellectual diversity, and working with parents to create alternatives, they are hell-bent on trying to quash home schooling where ever possible. Thus the real reason behind this line:
More federal research is needed to help resolve such questions about home schooling, he said.
Dollars to donuts this “research” will find home schooling lacking, and recommend that federal regulations be imposed. Because really, the last thing we want is for parents to do doing anything so radical as teaching their kids.