Major Change Coming: Public School or Homeschool?Jun 04, 2020
Survey Results Indicating Major Positive Impact on Homeschooling
In a recent RealClear Opinion Research Survey, 40% of families are more likely to homeschool when lockdown restrictions lift. Kerry McDonald, author of Unschooled, said last week that an EdChoice survey revealed “more than half of current families have a more favorable view of homeschooling in light of the pandemic.” Whatever the final numbers are, these results are BIG NEWS for homeschooling.
I started paying attention to this issue after two homeschool leaders endorsed us or added us to their resource list as where the parents should go to get career assessments to help their children pick the right colleges and majors for the careers that were right for the students. After seeing this kind of innovative thinking and not knowing much about homeschooling, I started paying attention. Here is some of what I found.
My first inquiry in homeschooling happened 25+ years ago with a wealth management client. (Yes, the career I was in for a long time was not the career God had designed me for.) I asked my client to answer why his wife could teach what the child needed in so much less time than the school.
He said, “Charlie, at school, the children spend so much time lining up to go to recess and back, to the bathroom, to and from lunch, getting ready to go home, getting to and from school on the bus or walking, teachers disciplining children, etc. Literally hours saved by homeschooling.”
“Oh, I see. Since you spend about four hours doing what it takes a full day at school to cover, what do you do with all the saved time?”
“We teach extra lessons and spend time in outside activities in the community which is also teaching and exposing our children to and socializing with diverse groups of people.”
Recent Attack Bringing More Attention on This Topic
There are almost 3,000,000 homeschool students in K-12 in the US, and the number grows every year. One person, Elizabeth Bartholet, does not like this. She is a Harvard law professor and faculty director of the school’s Child Advocacy Program. She wrote in Harvard Magazine’s May-June issue, “The issue is, do we think that parents should have 24/7, essentially authoritarian control over their children from ages zero to 18?” Per reporter Caleb Parke of Fox News, “Without citing specific examples, the civil rights and family law teacher argued homeschooled children are at higher risks of abuse.”
What Does the Research Say About Homeschooling?
For my heading, I stole an article title from Rachel Wise, CEO and Founder of educationandbehavior.com. In this article, she states very clearly that she is not for or against homeschooling. Her two concerns are homeschooled children getting socialization experiences and quality teaching by the parents. One way to assess the quality of the teaching is to see results, and here are some quotes from her article.
“According to an empirical analysis published in 2010, by Widener Law Review, called Evidence for Homeschooling: Constitutional Analysis in Light of Social Science Research, “Homeschooled children achieve levels of academic achievement similar to or higher than their publicly schooled peers. These results cut across racial and socio-economic lines.”
“Additionally, in 2008, Dr. Brian Ray, an internationally recognized scholar and president of the non-profit National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), collected academic data based on 25 years of homeschool achievement. Dr. Ray utilized 15 independent testing services, to obtain information from 11,739 homeschooled students from all 50 states who took three well-known tests—California Achievement Test, Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, and Stanford Achievement Test.”
“’Overall, the study showed significant advances in homeschool academic achievement as well as revealing that issues such as student gender, parents’ education level, and family income had little bearing on the results of homeschooled students.’”
“Another way we can measure how homeschooled students compare academically to traditionally schooled students is to compare success at the college level. According to Online College.org ‘Research indicates that homeschoolers typically have higher GPAs than the rest of their class. Homeschool freshmen have higher GPAs in their first semester at college, with 3.37 GPAs for homeschoolers, and 3.08 for the rest. This trend continues with an overall freshman GPA of 3.41 vs. 3.12, and senior GPAs of 3.46 vs. 3.16, indicating that homeschoolers are better prepared for college.’” Additional research indicates that it is not this cut and dry.
What About Socialization?
“According to Evidence for Homeschooling: Constitutional Analysis in Light of Social Science Research, ‘studies demonstrate that homeschooled students are well socialized.’
“Several studies found no significant difference in the social skills of homeschooled and non-homeschooled students. Other studies found that homeschooled children score significantly higher on social development rating scales/questionnaires. For instance, one study using the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale, a well-tested diagnostic tool for measuring communication and daily living skills, found that homeschooled students substantially outperformed traditionally schooled students. The average overall score for the homeschooled children on communication, daily living skills, socialization, and social maturity subscales was at the 84th percentile compared to the 23rd percentile for the traditionally schooled students.”
She later concluded that this area is hard to test. Because there is no test to measure social skills, researchers can only use the subjective data of checklists, questionnaires, and observations.
She also had some other caveats like the subjectivity of studies, different outcomes from studies trying to assess the same things, and how homeschooled students taking tests at home could look up answers, etc. However, here is what she concluded. “But… the most concrete answer to the question of whether or not homeschooled students will suffer academically or socially is, “The research says ‘No.’”
This topic is going to heat up as the traditional academic year approaches, and it will be interesting to see how much of an impact the new feelings about homeschooling will have. In any case, public schools and teachers’ unions are concerned.
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