Not being a parent, I feel uniquely qualified to give opinion on the practice of homeschooling. At least I am good company, since in a significant number of states, there is zero regulation of the practice, and anyone can declare themselves “teacher.” So, like I said, I’m uniquely qualified.
The chart says a lot. In those states of white, there are NO regulations whatsoever. Thus it allows a mere high school graduate in a state like Michigan (and one’s competence varies of course as to the quality of even that status), to “teach” their children. In red states, the requirements are high, requiring at minimum licensed teachers, testing and evaluations done on a regular basis. Most of these are required in the orange states as well. Iowa for example, required a licensed teacher, and evaluations done periodically along with testing. It does however, exempt the Amish type communities from compliance.
My first experience with homeschooling came in something I read or saw regarding Alaska. Folks who lived deep in the wilderness had no access to schools; heck they receive their mail ofttimes by biplane. As I recall, the two kids, schooled by mom, placed at Harvard and tested well above their peers. Wow, I thought. How lucky. If I had only had well educated parents who could have led me on an independent study into all those places my regular school had no “time” for in the rush to meet the general “citizenship” requirements.
I often thought that homeschooling as an adult would be something I would deeply love–giving my child an extra boost toward college. I still agree, there are circumstances when homeschooling is better. The obvious is when there is no alternative such as living in remote areas of a state. Another situation is well known to many urban dwellers–inadequate and substandard schools in their area.
As the map suggests, homeschooling, as schooling in general tends to be, respects to an inordinate degree, the state and the parent. The differences between states seems wildly variant. This goes hand in hand with our general belief that the state should not exercise too much control over families. They are sacrosanct in some sense, and only a serious state interest should intrude upon the family. One can look at custody issues with in vitro and all the other methodologies of giving birth to realize how ill-equipped the courts feel in tampering with family issues.
So the idea that we should regulate and to what degree is important. I am forced to look aghast at any state that makes no regulation of such an important issue. Having a well educated electorate, and one that is poised to enter college or university on a level of equality with other students, is I would think essential. Our world becomes more and more complicated, and our youth must be armed with the clearest and best information available to compete and make wise decisions, both for their own lives and for the lives of humanity itself.
It seems that generally speaking religion plays a major part in homeschooling decisions. Something like 33% cited religion as their reason for homeschooling. I ran into this first on a Catholic forum that is decidedly right wing. In fact, many of its posters are former born agains who have discovered the “true” church, but have brought their fundamentalist ways with them. They and other right wing evangelicals are near the largest segment of those who choose homeschooling.
And this seems irrationally wrong to me. These folks seem to object that our schools are too secular, and that they are, and by design. However, the answer it seems to me is not in homeschooling, since the science, math, and so forth are not impacted by religion. In fact the removal of religion from schools was imposed exactly so that information is offered as is, without editorial comment if you will.
The rightful place to indoctrinate kids (if you must) is at home. Kids should be learning biology unburdened by ideology. They can receive that at home, where no one can prevent it. One of my closest friends candidly explained to me how her children regurgitated the “answers” for tests as it related to evolutionary theory, but were at home told that such information was all a tissue of lies, since the good Lord set out all we need to know in one or both versions of creation in Genesis.
Why religious objections to secularized education is a reason for indoctrinating a kid in bad or no science, and splitting the brain into fragments, none of which can be reconciled, is beyond me. I simply object that it is wrong. It is child abuse. Said child is ill prepared for college for starters. Plenty of science professors in colleges and universities across the land gripe about the remedial education that must be given to these kids, and how some of them waste the class time arguing creationism. The vast majority of kids are there to learn evolution and thus prepare themselves for careers in science, not engage in a useless debate with a brainwashed kid.
We all know the consequences, either the child, too tied to parental control, keeps its head in the sand, and either flunks or engages in the repeat it but don’t believe it mode, or they crash and burn as now ex-believers, having had their worldview explode before their eyes in a torrent of actual facts. The former creates a non-thinking human robot, following blindly where no logic has gone before, and the latter becomes an atheist, unfortunate from a believer’s stand point at least.
I’m not against homeschooling, but I am against allowing minimally educated adults, who know not even as much as they are attempting to convey, all with an ideological bent which is demonstrably false, to screw with the minds of our youth. It is bad enough that our educational system is now substandard to much of the world today, let’s not make it worse by continuing to drag it into the morass of myth and fairy story. A troubled world requires more.
Oh, and just for proof, look to Texas which has been screwing with textbooks and such, all designed to push a creationist agenda. The upshot is that graduation levels in Texas are lower than Mississippi, Louisiana, and Georgia. Now, no doubt some will quibble with correlations here, but I think that the more irrelevant we make education, the less we graduate. Kids seem to sense mediocrity I’d say.