Psst….here are some statistics homeschooling foes would prefer you not know. Between 1999 and 2003, the number of homeschooled students in the United States grew from 850,000 to 1.1 million, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Education. This is not happy news for those who believe public schools should be the only place where our kids are taught. But it’s great news for the ever-growing number of believers in the power of the home school.
So why are so many people opting for the home school choice? One good reason is that many parents feel that they know their children better than the public schools do. As a result, they have a better grasp of what methods and programs will work with their children. In other words, for a large group of Americans, selecting homeschooling is not meant to reject the public school teacher; it’s meant to select the best thing for the family’s children.
Violence is another reason many parents prefer the home school option. True, statistics do not show a recent increase in violence in public schools, but it’s hard to ignore those few school shootings and not be scared of sending your kids to possibly face on.
There are other factors, too, in parents’ decision to teach their kids at home. For instance, according to some more statistics homeschooling foes don’t like: 31.2 percent of homeschool families say they’re concerned about the environment at public schools. Further, 16.5 percent say they have been dissatisfied with the schools’ academic instruction. 28.8 percent said they would like to include some religious instruction–forbidden, of course, in public schools. 8 percent gave “other” reasons.
Because these are concerns for parents of all backgrounds, homeschooling parents now cover a wide range of backgrounds as well. There was a time when the homeschool family consisted primarily of middle-class, white religious (evangelical0 families. That group still makes up a healthy portion of the homeschool movement in America today, but it’s spread far beyond that core group. In fact, as a percentage, the number of African American homeschoolers has grown faster than the overall homeschool population has.
Let’s consider one other group of statistics: Those measuring homeschooler performance. According to a 1997 study, “Home Schoolers Across America,” homeschoolers on average performed higher than public school students by 30 to 37 percent on all subjects.
Small wonder, then, that so many colleges are trying so hard to recruit homeschoolers. Other considerations also contribute to this. For instance, unlike in high school, homeschoolers can graduate at age 16, meaning the colleges can get their prized pupils even faster. Plus the homeschool environment more closely mirrors study situations at college.
All of these facts together paint a compelling picture: Homeschools are a growing phenomenon, and homeschoolers themselves are a wanted commodity. It’s all born out in the statistics. They might be statistics homeschooling opponents don’t like–but they’re numbers that you deserve to know as you consider whether to take the school-at-home plunge.