George A. Sprecace M.D.,
J.D., F.A.C.P. and Allergy Associates of New London,
Will the Extreme become Mainstream?
Presented by Michele Ridolfi
Home schooling is defined as a learning situation where students are taught,
usually by a parent, in a non-traditional environment.
Home schooling is allowed in all of the United States, and has been since
the 1980's or 1990's (depending on the state).
Home schooling is a very old tradition in America. Before organized
public schools began in the 19th century, home schooling was the norm,
and was done either by parents or tutors.
Home schooling then went by the wayside, and was not seen as an alternative
to public schooling until the 1960's, when a leftist education reformer
named John Holt began pushing the concept as an alternative to "conformist"
public schools. His ideas were controversial, but they served to
opened the debate on home schooling.
Holt's ideas paved the way for evangelical Christians to adopt home schooling
as an alternative to what they saw as the "creeping disorder" of school
campuses in the 1980's and 1990's.
According to anew report by The National Center for Education Statistics,
approximately 850,000 students nationwide were home schooled in 1999.
The number may actually be as high as 1,200,000 or 1,400,000.
According to the same report, a larger percentage of home schoolers were
white, non-Hispanic (75%) compared with non-home schoolers (65%).
At the lowest estimate, 1.7% of students between the ages of 5 and 17 are
taught at home. At the highest estimate, it could be 4% of the total
school population--more than in all in the public schools in Alaska, Delaware,
Hawaii, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode island, South Dakota,
Vermont and Wyoming COMBINED.
Home schooling is reportedly growing by 11% each year.
The largest segment of the home schooling population is Christian (75%)
but the fastest growing group of home schoolers is Muslim.
Parents of home schooled children usually earn $50,000 a year or less,
which is the norm for public school households.
81% of home schooling parents are college educated, which is 18% above
the national average.
97% of home schoolers' parents are legally married (72% is the US average).
Families of home schoolers are usually larger than public schoolers.
Early in the home schooling movement, most of the parents were selfdescribed
hippies or New Age types. That is no longer the case.
Average SAT Scores for home schoolers in 2000 was 1100, compared with 1019
for the general population.
Average home schooler scored in the 75th percentile on the Iowa Test of
Basic Skills; 50th percentile is the US average.
Even though they score better on standardized tests, home schoolers do
not have to take them.
A 1992 study (by psychotherapist Larry Shyers) of 35 home schooiers and
35 public schoolers concluded that home schoolers were more patient and
cooperative than their public school counterparts, and tended to behave
more like miniature adults.
Only 3% of all surveyed home-schooled fourth graders watch more than 3
hours of TV a day, versus 38% of public school fourth graders.
One on one teaching leads to greater chance of academic excellence.
Home schoolers are often sought after by many colleges, including Harvard,
Yale and Stanford. Kennesaw State University in Georgia actively
recruits home schoolers, There is even a college in Canada that accepts
only home schooled students.
A 1990 study by the National Home Education Research Institute showed that
after completing home schooling, 33% of students went on to a fouryear
college and 17% of students attended a two-year college. After a
wait of one year, an additional 17% went on to higher education.
Home schooled children are better socialized (in the literal sense) than
their public or private school counterparts.
Home schooled children do not always gain a first-hand appreciation for
different cultures, whereas publicly schooled children do, because they
interact with different cultures all the time.
Home schooling takes a lot of time, patience, and money from the parents.
Public school is tax subsidized and taught by licensed teachers.
Our economy is such that public schooling is a great option for parents
who need to take a job to support their families.
Public schooling creates better citizens, as students learn their roles
in a democracy through their roles in class.
As a taxpayer, your property taxes pay for education--this does not change
if you home school your child.
The temptation for parents to run errands, take vacations, or put a child
in front of a TV to learn is always there in a home schooling situation;
in public school, this is not a concern.
The fundamental belief of Thomas Jefferson and other pioneers of the public
school movement in early America was that public schooling would help sustain
democracy by bringing everyone together to share values and a common history.
In many states, home schooling is not regulated, and students are evaluated
by a school district using only one piece of material per semester in each
Unschooling--where a parent has no set curriculum to teach (7% of home
schoolers describe themselves as such).
Natural Home Schooling--where a parent uses real life projects as teaching
opportunities: caring for animals on the farm, building a deck onto a house,
keeping finances for a family business.
Traditional Home Schooling--where parents follow a curriculum they themselves
create, supplemented by materials purchased through-a publisher or bookstore.
Supplemented Home Schooling--where parents supplement the learning at home
with a class,club, or resource center in which the students participate
through or at a local school (since their taxes help fund these services,
Home schoolers need to move away from their negative views of public schools
and start to see public education as an important, essential piece of education.
Public school officials and teachers need to realize that parents are ultimately
responsible for their children, and that all members of a community MUST
work together to realize a child's potential. Public schools must
not view home schoolers as a threat or as criticizing the system.
Home and public schools need to build a working relationship--each can
supplement and benefit from the ideas, resources and strengths of the other.
Public schools could offer dual enrollment, so that home schoolers can
receive enrichment in a subject or gain experience in a sport or activity.
Public schools with a large number of home schooling families could designate
a coordinator to work with those families, to help them conform to state