Monday, September 7, 2009

Are homeschoolers cheating the public schools?

Homeschoolers are accustomed to defending their choices. There is always someone who hasn't read the latest statistics on standardized test scores and assumes parents can't teach their own children. Of course, there are also people who are concerned about "socialization", as well as those who feel children should be exposed to a wider variety of beliefs, values, and opinions than they imagine homeschooling parents provide.

All of the preceding concerns have effectively been laid to rest by several large studies. Homeschoolers score at least thirty percentage points above public schooled children on standardized tests. Colleges are actively recruiting students who have been educated at home.

Now that a generation of homeschooled students have grown up, we can see that they are generally successful in their jobs and usually get married and have children. They are also more active in their community and more involved in politics than those who received public schooling.

Although some families homeschool in order to shield their children from what they perceive as negative influences, the vast majority of these parents still incorporate information about other beliefs, cultures, and religions into their child's education.

Homeschooled kids have fared a lot better than some people imagined they would, so now there's a new concern. It seems that some believe families who homeschool are cheating the public school system.

Teachers generally acknowledge that students do better in school when their families take an interest in their education. These are the families who are most likely to homeschool. Removing them from the public school system dilutes the average score for everyone.

Parents who homeschool have often been members of the PTA or active volunteers at their child's school. When these parents leave, their limited time and energy is concentrated on their own children, instead of directed toward the public schools.

Public school funding is based, in part, on the number of students attending. School districts do not receive funding for students who are being homeschooled, thereby reducing the amount of tax money disbursed to the public schools.

Because of these things, it has been suggested that increased numbers of students being homeschooled has contributed to the decline of the public schools.

Accidental homeschoolers think that's a backwards way of looking at it. They would argue that poor public schools contribute to their decision to homeschool. But what if it's true? What if homeschoolers could markedly improve the public school system simply by returning and getting involved?

Improvement takes time. If returning your student to school meant the school would eventually be better for other children, would you make the sacrifice? People often sacrifice their own well being for the greater good, but it's adults that are making those decisions for themselves. Don't parents usually do what they feel is best for their own kids and wait until their child is old enough to decide what he wants to sacrifice?

Do familes have an inherent responsibility to the public schools?


  1. I like this post. Thank you for the topic and potential to discuss this issue.

    1. If returning your student to school meant the school would eventually be better for other children, would you make the sacrifice?

    NO. It isn't my responsibility to validate the institutional system that is overall a "grand-experiment". Since only being approx 150 to 170 years old, I'd say the experiment of public institutional tax funded learning isn't going so well. I believe we have to be responsible for the absolute well-being of our children and for me & for our family that means educating in a manner that reaches beyond books & seat work. It is not to say that other parents in the public school system are any different from us, but sacrificing our children's overall well-being for statical markings and better "scores" for others, seems an inappropriate way to train our children to care for themselves and others.

    2. Do familes have an inherent responsibility to the public schools?

    In my opinion the focus of the greater social good is off base. If we were MORE focused on the well-being of our family, literally door to door our social make up as a whole might look radically different. It is my personal inherent responsibility to RAISE my children. If I'm focused on taking care of my own then our life will REACH others as it should in the right time & pace. Community support is important, but if you can't take care of your own how can you take care of others?

    Thanks again for this thought provoking post today!

  2. "Do familes have an inherent responsibility to the public schools?"

    I think that's a bit like saying "The Citizens owe the State." In our country, the government is set up to serve us, not the other way around. We "owe" our neighborhood and communities to be clean, helpful, quiet, and charitable. And they "owe" it to us, as part of a basic social contract. But we don't owe the state more than to pay our taxes and abide by the laws of the land.

    Most of our kids aren't at school because the schools let them down. Returning them there might harm them, and just who else would it help? The league average might have suffered a percentage of a percentage point when I quit bowling. They can practice more and make it up, if they want to.

  3. I hear lots of teacher say that "if only homeschool parents put their kids in public school and then put effort into volunteering - public schools would improve."

    1) I'm a homeschool parent with babies in my home - who's going to watch them while I'm actively participating in my older children's school?

    2) I contest a public school teacher doesn't want me in their classroom. My philosophy and methods of education are probably so different from theirs that after a week they'd probably say thanks, but no thanks. Where does that leave me and my kids?


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