Homeschooling is a fairly well-established phenomenon. At present, over 1.5 million students are educated at home, which is double the number estimated in the late 1990s. These youngsters account for around 3.5% of America’s students, a rate that, by all indications, seems likely to grow. One interesting aspect of homeschooling is where it fits into the ongoing debates about school funding models.
Just one example is the role of school vouchers. This is a program designed to allow low-income parents to enroll their kids in public school. Just what the new government will do with vouchers is unclear, but at present they can be used to reimburse homeschooling parents for school expenses -- as long as they follow federal educational requirements.
As debate over the issue of school choice becomes more intense, homeschooling is indeed part of the conversation. There are still complications, however. To begin with, the laws and regulations regarding homeschooling are incredibly inconsistent, varying from state to state. This can make it really difficult for teacher-parents to operate effectively, which can impact learning outcomes for the kids.
More difficult still is the struggle for basic acceptance faced by homeschoolers. While it’s true that the numbers of homeschooled kids are growing, a certain section of society harbors deep suspicion of the concept itself. Common sense suggests that parents normally want the very best for their kids, including parents who homeschool their kids. Even if parents have gaps in their personal knowledge, there are many standard approaches to addressing that, including team-ups with other homeschooling parents, working with local schools and hiring in-home one-on-one tutors. However, the perpetuation of ugly stereotypes persist, even leading some, incredibly, to associate homeschooling with child abuse.
The good news is, homeschooling has made slow but steady progress over the years, and this progress will almost certainly continue. Attitudes will continue to shift, and more resources will become available. It is a challenging task, requiring dedication, patience and loads of hard work -- and in some states a certain resistance to judgement. But if the end results are children raised and taught in a loving home environment, then it might just be worth it.