Home schooling is and always has been a topic of great controversy in the educational field. I personally chose to look further into its depths due to my interest in potentially becoming a teacher. The debate about home-schooled students versus those who are schooled through public education has always interested me, and I wanted to discover more tangible information on the topic through research. I know that the debate over resources from public school districts being given to home school families is a heated one; I also know that the effectiveness of being schooled at home is always being analyzed. My goal is to come to a conclusion on the effectiveness of homes schooling and decide whether or not I believe that they deserve the resources of public schools. In doing so, I intend to evaluate other types of schooling methods. Home schooling is a highly controversial issue that, consequently, beckons a thorough evaluation.
Home schooling is an issue constantly in the spotlight. There are people on both ends of the spectrum; home schooling could be the greatest thing to happen or the worst. Many parents will choose to home school because they have an issue with the other systems of schooling for one reason or another. A parent may home school because he would like complete control of his child’s curriculum (Hurley). In many cases, this relates to a stricter religion within the family. A parent might feel that his child would be corrupted by the general curriculum of a public school, especially one that does not pertain to the family’s respective religion. Another reason many choose to home school is that other methods of schooling are too crowded. Parents say that they “want their child to have a more individualized approach to education which can only be met in the home environment.” Also, the social environment in public schools is not deemed appropriate by many parents. This coincides with the point that “[s]ince there are (usually) no other children around, home-schooled children learn in a relatively calm, peaceful environment” (Chen). Some parents have the argument that home schooling is cheaper.
There are whole sections of the book Home Schooling From Scratch: Simple Living, Super Learning dedicated to saving money: “Ask your local librarian what they do with old magazines and offer to carry them off for posters, murals, and recipe collections” (Kenyon 34). This makes it clear that the demographic of home schooling is one full of people who like to save money. The typical method of home schooling is similar to most other schooling in that textbooks and workbooks are used (“Homeschooling”). However, there are many varieties within the home schooling field. The types of home schooling include but are not limited to the following: unschooling, which is the method of abandoning typical techniques and focusing on daily experiences; computer-based home schooling, which is now known as “cyber-schooling”; Charlotte-Mason home schooling, which is a method with heavy focus on classic literature; eclectic home schooling, which is combining a multitude of methods. The reasons parents choose to home school their students are logical and measure up acceptably to those of parents with other schools of thought.
The oppositions to home schooling, of course, are public and private schools, whose ideals may be very similar to home school parents or very different; it all depends on perspective. It is obvious that public schooling is the more popular option for education. A parent’s reasoning may simply lie in public school being the norm. As they were educated in this manner and most others are, it makes sense to pass on this form of education. Another reason parents will choose public schooling is for the guaranteed social interaction. Mark Klein, the superintendent of Council Rock School District, puts forth some of the goals of public schooling: “While academic achievement is certainly one of the most important goals of public schools, the ability to work with others, tolerate differences, make friends, resolve conflicts and learn to collaborate with others is an equally important goal” (“Interview”).
It is a legitimate argument that “the chaos of the classroom is actually what children need to succeed” (Chen). Parents may choose public schooling for their children simply because their tax money goes into public school funding. The government provides “free” public schooling through the taxpayers’ money, so public school seems like the most obvious choice to a parent. There are not many different “methods” of public schooling as there are with home schooling due to the state and federal legislations for schooling. A parent might prefer this because of its structured nature and ensured professional involvement. Another opposition to home schooling is private school.
Parents with higher incomes may choose this option because of a better student to teacher ratio, a supposed “higher bar,” choice in the school, religion, or a myriad of other reasons (“Why”). Because of the tuition required for private schools, enrollment is lower. Lower enrollment means a more individualized experience for students because of the better student to teacher ratio. The term higher bar that is used by proponents of private school refers to the alleged higher educational standard to which private school students are applied. Public schools are districted in such a way that a student is assigned a school; because of this, some parents may choose private schools because of the freedom of choice. Finally, certain private schools are catered to certain religions, making parents more apt to select them. As with home schooling, there are many specific reasons parents would choose public or private school over the other options.
Academically and socially, there is great controversy over whether or not the students who are home schooled are getting the proper stimulation at home. Klein, a proponent of public schooling, says, “Home schooling is more concerning to me because the control of curriculum and rigor rests entirely with the parent” (“Interview”). Although these concerns are more than legitimate, academic statistics show that home schooled students measure up well. A study released in 1994 by the National Center for Home Education shows that “[t]he nationwide average for home school students is at the 77th percentile” on a standardized test (Smith). This means that on average, students who are home schooled performed better than 77% of the country. In 1987, the Tennessee Department of Education discovered that students who were home schooled “scored in the 93rd percentile while their public school counterparts, on the average, scored in the 62nd percentile on the Stanford Achievement Test.”
Clearly, if the teaching is done right, home-schooled students do not struggle academically. However, even though they measure up in terms of academics, they may not appreciate or absorb what they have learned: “Overall, home school students, when compared to public school students, expressed less satisfaction in their academic progress and in the way they were taught” (Duvall). That being said, home schooling most definitely creates a difference in the culture of a child. The culture of a public school, according to that fact, creates a desire to learn and an appreciation for their teachers. The cultural upbringing of a home-schooled student is most pertinent in the social field. A book entitled Fundamentals of Homeschooling says a parent should “explore [his] child’s unique social profile” to enhance his socialization skills (Lahrson-Fisher 142). For public school students, social skills come second nature. If proponents of home schooling even recognize that socialization needs to be taught, it is apparent that something is not as it should be.
Home schooling “limits children’s interactions with others” (Duvall) even though “[c]hildren should interact and … work with one another in order to build real, vital skills needed in the real world” (Chen). This crucial social component really comes into play for students with disorders. It may be even more critical for them to have the social element of normal schooling because it will be even harder for them to adapt in the future. For example, “there could be at least 61,500 children with ADHD being taught at home” (Duvall). This means that 61,500 students with ADHD are potentially not getting the professional assistance that they would in a public school. In addition, they aren’t socializing with other students on a regular basis, so one on one interaction will be all they know until they enter the adult world; this would be significantly harder on kids with ADHD, a disorder involving the ability to focus. Statistics and studies show that academically, home schooled students for the most part are able to succeed; however, it is harder to measure the impact on the social upbringing of a child.
A big controversy in the field of home schooling is the debate over whether or not students who are home schooled should be allowed to participate in extra curricular activities and other activities funded by the public school districts. Public schools are funded by taxes. The question is whether or not, when a parent chooses to home school, he has opted out of all the benefits of the free schooling. Proponents of home schooling argue that “they are entitled to take advantage of the school’s offerings” because they have paid the same taxes (Colb). However, Colb, a professor at a law school in New Jersey, draws a clear line with regard to the taxes: “Paying taxes is not the equivalent of paying tuition for public school.” If this were the case, people who have no children would not have to pay taxes, which is certainly not how it works. Interestingly, recent legislation has required the Council Rock School District to allow home schooled students to participate in extra curricular activities: “You can see that we must allow home-school students to participate in extra-curricular activities. Interestingly, this includes proms and other social events” (“Interview”).
An article arguing against home schoolers’ access to public school resources creates an interesting analogy: By analogy, consider the government funding that goes to pay police officers’ salaries. Such money subsidizes a service that we all wish to enjoy – the reduction of crime and the protection of our communities from destructive and violent behavior. As taxpayers, then, we can legitimately complain when police are not well trained, just as we can all complain when children are not properly educated. But neither children who attend private (or home) schools nor private people who hire armed security guards are entitled to negotiate alternative packages for their own education or protection from the government. There is no direct correspondence, in other words, between payment and services, when it comes to taxes. (Colb) The point being made is that tax money goes into what the government decides; there is no picking and choosing. In addition, one cannot choose bits and pieces of a package.
The decision to home school, according to this article, is also a decision to not partake in anything provided by the public schools. In terms of taxation, money does not have to go directly back to each taxpayer. The money is used for the benefit of everyone; therefore, not each person will see a tangible benefit from everything. The debate over home schooled students getting public school benefits is a heated one. It is important to recognize that the home school debate is a culmination of many things: academia, socialization, taxes, and extra curriculars. Academically, home schooled students measure up very well to public school students; in many cases, they perform better. However, academics aren’t the sole focus: “…[T]he goal of public education is not to teach students simply to read, solve math problems or to solve scientific equations. If that were the case, home schooling would be the best option for everyone” (Chen).
In essence, while academics are important, the potential lack of socialization presents a problem. Which can be solved through the addition of extra curricular activities, but is that fair? Taxes are paid for the benefit of everyone, and not everyone will receive all the benefits. Public schooling is funded through taxation. The government supports public schooling because it puts forth well-rounded students into the world to make a difference in the future. With all the regulation surrounding public schools, there is an air of confidence in the students being produced. That being said, extra curricular activities are a privilege even for public school students. If they are a privilege for those who have earned good grades through the rigors set by the school, how can it be regulated for home school students to participate? They may have the grades to get by, but the rigor and curriculum of the home schooler cannot be measured. Home schooling presents quite the conundrum.
It is rather apparent that the issue of home schooling is not a superficial one. There is a great deal of depth and controversy surrounding it. I learned all about the debate over funding for home schooled kids and the basic ideals behind each schooling system. It was rather intriguing that in actuality, the academic statistics of those home schooled are actually not paling in comparison to that of a public or private school. I would still like to further research studies on the social turn out of home-schooled children. Social tendencies are difficult to measure, hence why many studies were not conducted on this topic that show exactly that. I would like to actually see a home-schooled student socialize with other students his age and take note of how the interactions vary. All in all, this is a very hard topic to assess. It is clear that the average academic turnouts for home schooled students or otherwise are along the same lines as those who have been public schools. Therefore, in those terms, it is unfair say that home schooling is a faulty educational process.
However, in less tangible means, it is nearly impossible to have a definitive answer as to the effectiveness of home schooling. Personally, I think that the social drawbacks are too strong to ignore. It is not going to show up in a research study that home schooled students struggle more in social situations because that is just impossible to gauge. However, all things considered, the structure of home schooling, to me, limits the social interactions made. Of course, there are exceptions. But to cut a child off from a typical schooling environment is wholly unfair. College and the world he has to endure in search of a career will be an excruciating culture shock.
If a parent has an issue with the way a public school runs, he should consider private school so that the student is still able to and is forced to socialize on a daily basis with other kids. In terms of public school resources, the districts should not have to support home schooling families. A person’s taxes already go towards a free public education system for each child. If a parent has an issue with the system, so be it. But the money has already been invested in a place that the parent can utilize if he so chooses. It is the ability to work with people, not the ability to put memorized facts onto a piece of paper, that gets someone far in life. What good is brilliance when you have no ability to articulate it?