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WASHINGTON (RNS) As home-schooling slowly becomes more mainstream, most parents cite the environment of public schools, not religious belief, as the main reason behind their decision to home-school.

22 Comments

  1. First, an increase of .7% over 10 years, with the new total being 3%, does not mean that homeschooling is becoming “more mainstream.”

    Second, in talking with folks who are home schooling, what I hear when you dig a little bit is not so much that parents keep their kids home from school not as much for religious reasons (those parents who fear science might undermine religion…Darwin anyone?), but unfortunately, many of these parents want to keep their children away from people who don’t look like them or who have a different culture than them. Thats right folks….kids get homeschooled for the same reasons they get put in “Christian Academies,” which is due to racism. Spend some time talking to these folks and what their anxieties are, and it very much comes out.

  2. Katherine. I think this is a great article. Thanks. I’d like to add two points that didn’t make it into the article which both show that homeschooling is larger than the much cited 3% number. One, many people think of virtual schooling – when the students are enrolled in a public, private, or charter online school – as homeschooling. This is a red-hot trend that probably covers another few percentage points of the population. Virtual schooling (or dual enrollment) however,is not counted in 3 of the population that is reported as homeschooling. Secondly, many parents homeschool for a few years and then move their children back into private or public schools. I don’t have any data on this so I won’t speculate on the magnitude of “many.” But, the 3% number really is 3% at any given time. Overall, the number of students who were homeschooled or virtual schooled for a part of K12 is probably a much larger number, perhaps as large as the number of kids attending private schools.

    • Even the 3% figure is probably unreliable.

      The studies which have been performed on homeschoolers in the past came from advocacy groups with no objectivity or were so oft repeated as to be assumed true. The insular nature of homeschooling and defensive nature of its proponents doesn’t lend itself to objective studies.

    • I was surprised to learn this weekend that a daughter of a family friend is “home schooled”. When I probed a bit more into the how / why, I found out that she’s attending virtual high-school as provided by the state and receiving private tutoring to make up for any gaps. The “why” in this case has more to do with the individual student’s personal preference. I also wouldn’t classify the “how” as true home schooling as the parent is not acting as the primary educator in this case.

      This ties into John’s comment on the impressive growth of home schooling when you do take into account virtual schools. Florida Virtual School (FLVS) for example has seen (approximately) a 25 fold increase in growth, based on the number of semesters completed between 2002 and 2012 (10 year period).

  3. I don’t keep my children home due to xenophobia … I keep them home due to the fact we are atheist and live in the south where atheism makes you less liked than ethnic minority groups. I keep them home due to the sex abuse; lack of funds and resources for teachers who often foot the blame for politicians; for safety reasons – I don’t want my child shot. I dislike the way the schools are constructed and often “open” to freely traveling pedestrians and etc. I dislike the bathrooms being in open hallways… Up north our schools were closed off and everything was indoors, and doors were locked so people couldn’t come in nor out … The newer schools are too open and subject to random people. I dislike curriculum in a constant battle- I prefer science to be science. I like challenging math and other curricula for my child. Yes there are homeschoolers who keep their children home for abusive purpose- even if they see it not as being abusive… I see families who deny their daughters education at certain points, changing out for homemaking. They are handicapping them, it’s not the way the future will be and so their child will be forced to acquire advanced academic skills later in life. Abuses happen in public school too … Children get left behind, fall through cracks and etc.

    So let’s not pretend that public education is a bullet to low intelligence and abuse…

  1. […] Fewer home-school families cite religion as their main motivationReligion News Service, on Wed, 30 Oct 2013 10:37:30 -0700As home-schooling slowly becomes more mainstream — 3 percent of American students age 5-17 are home-schooled, up from 2.2 percent in 2003 — most parents cited the environment of public schools (25 percent), not religious belief, as the main reason … […]

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