Term Paper: Homeschooling Quality of Education

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[. . .] Within those clusters, all three of the subproblems, or a combination of two of them, was likely to be found.

Note on the Anti-Homeschooling Debate

CNN online article from more than two years ago mentioned a National Education Association (NEA) commentary against homeschooling. It read:

The National Education Association, the nation's largest public-school teachers' union, has an official resolution stating that 'home schooling programs cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience.'

The NEA advocates a requirement that only "persons licensed by the appropriate state education licensure agency" be allowed to home school and that the curriculum should be approved by the state department of education.

Correspondent Charles Zewe and The Associated Press contributed to this report, written by Jim Morris.

A search of the NEAWeb site in July, 2003, revealed the link had been broken.

A further search of the NEA Web site revealed no discussions currently regarding homeschooling. A complete list of NEA topics on its NEA on the Issues page, on July 12, 2003, included these, in toto (annotated where appropriate):

Accountability and Testing

Charter Schools

Class Size

ESEA ("No Child Left Behind" Act)

International Issues

Mathematics

National Board Certification

No Child Left Behind" Act

Priority Schools

Privatization

Reading

Rural Education

School Modernization

School Quality

NEA is committed to doing all it can to make public schools great for every child. Learn what makes for a quality school as well as how NEA's KEY's Initiative is helping educators, parents and community members improve their local schools.

School Safety

Special Ed/IDEA

Social Security

Teacher Quality

The National Education Association works with researchers, educators and policymakers to assure a qualified, competent, caring educator in every American classroom. NEA's commitment to teacher quality extends to each critical component of the teacher development continuum, including the quality of teacher education programs, the quality of beginning teachers and the continuing quality of experienced teachers.

Teacher Shortage

Technology in Schools

Title IX

Vouchers

CHAPTER 4

THE PRESENTATION OF THE DATA

Background

As of 2001, about 1.5 to 1.9 million U.S. children were being homeschooled, a number equal to about two percent of all U.S. school-aged children.

Growth in Homeschooling, 1978-1999

NEHRI Web site)

Some estimates also say homeschooling is growing at between ten and 20% per year. "Teaching specific philosophical or religious values, controlling social interactions, developing close families, and high level academics are the most common reasons for home schooling," were given as the most frequent reasons cited.

Whatever the reasons, it is apparent that, as many researchers claim, homeschooling has become more popular over more than the last two decades, as this chart reveals.

Coping with learning disabilities is not mentioned in the NEHRI report. The social/academic histories of the parents are linked to the choice more often than are the needs of the child. "One researcher (Knowles, 1988) has linked the life histories (e.g., positive or negative experiences) of parents to their rationales for home educating their own children."

In the aftermath of the Columbine High School events, some parents also cited safety as a reason for homeschooling. Writer Jillian Lloyd, writing in June, 1999, in the Christian Science Monitor, reported that inquiry calls to Christian Home Educators of Colorado, that state's larges homeschooling advocacy group, had more than quadrupled in the wake of those events. Lloyd also reported that the group's public relations coordinator, who homeschools her own children, cautioned that homeschooling was a "way of life" and to be successful, had to be based on a lot more than safety issues.

Three more cogent possible issues -- religious concerns, disabilities and academic achievement -- were identified in the beginning of this project, and research was conducted to locate material to develop cogent and likely answers for all three subproblems. Searches for support each of the three hypotheses were also conducted. Abundant material, both Internet-originated and reprinted on Internet sites from print journals, both popular and academic, was located. Many of the more highly developed sites/materials are referenced here. Others, however, reinforced the main hypotheses, although they were merely repetitive of the primary sources used here and so were not specifically cited.

It is easy to find reference material citing religion as a reason for homeschooling. For example, a Web site called Citizen Link and maintained by and organization called Focus on the Family, sets the tone for that issue on its home page:

We believe that home schooling provides an important option for parents who want to educate their children within the context of the family. Home schooling allows parents to provide their children with the security, love and guidance they need during their early years of learning. Parents can also alter the pace and style of their children's education according to their developmental needs. In addition, research indicates that children who are home schooled can learn as well or better than children in formal schooling. Home schooling also allows parents to provide their children with an integrated Christian education about all aspects of life.

The organization covers a lot of ground, but its concluding 'mission statement' thought makes it clear this is not research, but propaganda. Sources used for finding statistical evidence for one hypothesis or another did not display an obvious bias.

Specific Data by Subproblem

Subproblem One

To restate the first subproblem:

The first subproblem is to determine whether or not parents choose homeschooling because of religious reasons. If so, are they choosing homeschooling because of what is being taught (for example, Darwinism in public schools) or what isn't (for example, anything about religion at all, including even a moment of silent meditation)?

A report from the National Homeschooling Educational Research Institute (NHERI) indicated that early studies suggested the most common reasons parents gave for homeschooling their children were moral or religious reasons.

CNN report from June, 1999, also cites religion as one major reason for homeschooling.

Other parents cite religious guidelines, the desire to spend more time with their kids, a better education, concern about morals taught at school and fear of school violence.

The story was about a woman who had chosen to homeschool her children after realizing her children had "different learning needs and different learning styles." (CNN, Web site)

The story said that Ramona Peterson looked into home schooling after realizing that her children had "different learning needs and different learning styles." The story itself, however, pointed to yet another reason for homeschooling. The title of the article was "School violence helps spur rise in home schooling." (CNN Web site)

To restate the second subproblem:

The second subproblem is to determine whether or not parents choose homeschooling because they have a child with a learning disability. The question has been raised: are parents creating what it tantamount to a learning disability by not allowing their child to go to a public or private school and, through interaction with the other children, develop skills that will assist in their development later on?

In all the Web sites surveyed, and in the studies that produced significant information regarding reasons for homeschooling, learning disabilities was rarely mentioned as a reason for homeschooling. However, although there were low numbers of responses by parents giving learning disabilities as a reason for homeschooling, when those students were homeschooled, there were benefits.

A study by NHERI, found that:

Research comparing home educated to public school learning disabled students found higher rates of academic engaged time and greater academic gains were made by the home educated..".. [P]arents, even without special education training, provided powerful instructional environments at home...." (Facts on Homeschooling 11)

To restate the third subproblem:

The third subproblem is to determine whether or not parents are choosing homeschooling because they are concerned about the quality of the education their children are receiving or would receive in a public school.

The NEHRI report cited above regarding subproblem one is useful again here. It stated that "a desire for high educational achievement, dissatisfaction with public schools' instructional program, and concerns about school environment, including safety, drugs, and peer pressure" are the next most important reasons parents gave for homeschooling their children. (NHERI Web site, referencing Lines 2000a, Grubb 1998, Mayberry 1991)

The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), an agency of the federal government, supported educational achievement as a primary reason for parents to choose to homeschool. In one study conducted by NCES:

Parents gave a wide range of reasons for homeschooling in the Parent-NHES:1999 3. Parents were asked to list their reasons for homeschooling and could provide as many reasons as applied. The reasons parents gave were coded into 16 categories and included better education, religious reasons, and poor school environment. (NCES HomeSchool Web page)

The following graphic from NCES sums up the findings regarding all three subproblems. It shows that clearly, the third subproblem is the one of most concern to parents making the decision to homeschool. The first subproblem comes in second, although there is a ten-point spread. And surprisingly, perhaps, the second subproblem -- learning disabilities -- is last… [END OF PREVIEW]

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