Home schooling: Basic safeguards for kids
September 23, 2015
A hard lesson on home-schooled kids in America and why some aren’t learning as they should be
About 50 million American kids head to public schools every weekday. Another 5 million go to private schools. Nearly 2 million students are home-schooled. In some ways, home schooling is old schooling: It’s the only way most Americans were educated until public school attendance became mandatory in the early 1900s. Homeschooling had a resurgence in the 1960s in response to desegregation, social upheaval and the end of school prayer. Today a majority of parents who home school say their reasons include concern about the environment in schools and a desire to provide religious instruction. Home schooling has been legal in all 50 states for the last quarter-century. But that doesn’t mean it’s highly regulated. A majority of states require parents to notify their school district every year that they’re home schooling. There are 11 states, including Texas and New Jersey, that don’t require any notification. Nine states, including Florida, ask parents to report their home schooling intentions just once. And in all but two states — Arkansas and Pennsylvania — parents’ criminal histories can’t be used to prevent them from home schooling. And when it comes to knowing whether home-schooled kids are getting a decent education, there is even less oversight. Twenty-eight states don’t require parents to submit tests or assessments. Most states have no minimum education requirement for parents who home school. This lack of oversight has led critics to say some home-schooled students are not receiving a basic education.