How American Homeschoolers Measure up

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Public School / Homeschool Partnerships
MiCHN’s Position Paper on Public School Partnerships MiCHN wants to clearly state what has always been the case: Our vision explains that we exist “to promote Biblically-based, family-centered, privately-funded, parent-directed home discipleship” in Michigan. Therefore, we do not encourage involvement in any ‘shared time’ or partnership programs with the public schools. We are very concerned about the rapid growth of such public school partnerships because of the following reasons: Public school partnerships negatively impact private homeschool co-ops and support groups. Homeschool co-operatives are perhaps one of the best examples of Christians working together to accomplish a common godly objective. The Church has always struggled to love one another and to work together with each one carrying their own load, truly functioning as the Body of Christ is called to do in Scripture. The homeschool community has done well over the years working together, with members from different churches, different homes, and different walks of life, coming together to share their various gifts and talents and areas of expertise, for mutual edification and benefit- to glorify the Lord as we help our children learn to know God and His world better. If we look increasingly to government school programs to provide the classes we personally can’t or won’t teach for our children, then we rob both the homeschool community and ourselves of the joy and blessing of working together, and of the godly character development that comes through this process. Private homeschool support groups and co-ops are losing members and even ceasing to exist, as more homeschool families are looking to the government instead of the private homeschool community, to assist them in their homeschool endeavors. Public school partnerships appear to be a violation of our state constitution and therefore a misappropriation of state funds. All of us should want the government held accountable for the usage of our tax dollars wherever they are allocated. While this misappropriation is currently being ignored by the current administration in the educational arena, it doesn’t mean it will be ignored by subsequent administrations.  The Michigan Constitution spells out clearly in Article VIII Section 2, that “No public monies or property shall be appropriated or paid or any public credit utilized, by the legislature or any other political subdivision or agency of the state directly or indirectly to aid or maintain any private, denominational or other nonpublic, pre-elementary, elementary, or secondary school. No payment, credit, tax benefit, exemption or deductions, tuition voucher, subsidy, grant or loan of public monies or property shall be provided, directly or indirectly, to support the attendance of any student or the employment of any person at any such nonpublic school or at any location or institution where instruction is offered in whole or in part to such nonpublic school students.” Public school partnerships make the government bigger and fund secular education in our state. By participating in public school partnerships, homeschool families provide public schools with additional funding collected from Michigan taxpayers around our state… and those funds are being used to develop curriculum and promote the teaching of many beliefs that are anti-Biblical and in conflict with a Christian worldview. Public school partnerships can lead families to ever-increasing involvement in government schools. Some have entered into public school partnerships in a very limited capacity, finding them helpful with a just few non-core classes… only to eventually be enticed back into the public school full-time. MiCHN believes parental Christian discipleship should be the primary reason to homeschool, with the secondary reason being to develop stronger family relationships which lead to godly influence in the lives of our children. A strong academic education is a wonderful by-product of this focus on “seeking first the Kingdom of God…” Sending our children more and more into the public school environment makes the work of training our children to love and serve the Lord infinitely more difficult. There is a real possibility for future oversight of all Michigan homeschoolers because of a need to oversee public school partnership families. Currently, there is little to no oversight or accountability for those taking the government funds through parent partnerships: no testing, no records submitted, no curriculum list, etc. At this time, there is simply a requirement to “report” or “be counted” so that the school district can procure their full per-pupil funding for the partnership students, then pass a small portion of that back to the families.   Could this oversight become much more invasive over time?  It’s a likely possibility.
The Research for Homeschooling
Homeschooling Facts General Facts and Trends Homeschooling – that is, parent-led home-based education – is an age-old traditional educational practice that a decade ago appeared to be cutting-edge and “alternative” but is now bordering on “mainstream” in the United States. It may be the fastest-growing form of education in the United States. Home-based education has also growing around the world in many other nations (e.g., Australia, Canada, Hungary, Japan, Kenya, and the United Kingdom). There are about 2.04 million home-educated students in the United States. There were an estimated 1.73 to 2.35 million children (in grades K to 12) home educated during the spring of 2010 in the United States. It appears the homeschool population is continuing to grow (at an estimated 2% to 8% per annum over the past few years). Families engaged in home-based education are not dependent on public, tax-funded resources for their children’s education. The finances associated with their homeschooling likely represent over $16 billion that American taxpayers do not have to spend since these children are not in public schools Homeschooling is quickly growing in popularity among minorities. About 15% of homeschool families are non-white/nonHispanic (i.e., not white/Anglo). A demographically wide variety of people homeschool – these are atheists, Christians, and Mormons; conservatives, libertarians, and liberals; low-, middle-, and high-income families; black, Hispanic, and white; parents with Ph.D.s, GEDs, and no high-school diplomas. Most parents and youth decide to homeschool for more than one reason. The most common reasons given for homeschooling are the following: customize or individualize the curriculum and learning environment for each child, accomplish more academically than in schools, use pedagogical approaches other than those typical in institutional schools, enhance family relationships between children and parents and among siblings, provide guided and reasoned social interactions with youthful peers and adults, provide a safer environment for children and youth, because of physical violence, drugs and alcohol, psychological abuse, and improper and unhealthy sexuality associated with institutional schools, and teach and impart a particular set of values, beliefs, and worldview to children and youth. Reasons for Home Educating Academic Performance The home-educated typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests. (The public school average is the 50th percentile; scores range from 1 to 99.) Homeschool students score above average on achievement tests regardless of their parents’ level of formal education or their family’s household income. Whether homeschool parents were ever certified teachers is not related to their children’s academic achievement. Degree of state control and regulation of homeschooling is not related to academic achievement. Home-educated students typically score above average on the SAT and ACT tests that colleges consider for admissions. Homeschool students are increasingly being actively recruited by colleges. Social, Emotional, and Psychological Development The home-educated are doing well, typically above average, on measures of social, emotional, and psychological development. Research measures include peer interaction, self-concept, leadership skills, family cohesion, participation in community service, and self-esteem. Homeschool students are regularly engaged in social and educational activities outside their homes and with people other than their nuclear-family members. They are commonly involved in activities such as field trips, scouting, 4-H, political drives, church ministry, sports teams, and community volunteer work One researcher finds that homeschooling gives young people an unusual chance to ask questions such as, “Who am I?” and “What do I really want?,” and through the process of such asking and gradually answering the questions home-educated girls develop the strengths and the resistance abilities that give them an unusually strong sense of self. Some think that boys’ energetic natures and tendency to physical expression can more easily be accommodated in home-based education. Many are concerned that a highly disproportionate number of public school special-education students are boys and that boys are 2.5 times as likely as girls in public schools to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Gender Differences in Children and Youth Respected? Success in the “Real World” of Adulthood The research base on adults who were home educated is growing; thus far it indicates that they: participate in local community service more frequently than does the general population, vote and attend public meetings more frequently than the general population, and go to and succeed at college at an equal or higher rate than the general population. Internalize the values and beliefs of their parents at a very high rate. General Interpretation of Research on Homeschool Success or Failure It is possible that homeschooling causes the positive traits reported above. However, the research designs to date do not conclusively “prove” that homeschooling causes these things. At the same time, there is no empirical evidence that homeschooling causes negative things compared to institutional schooling. Future research may better answer the question of causation. Sources The above findings are extensively documented in one or more of the following sources, all (except one) of which are available from A Homeschool Research Story, Brian. D. Ray, 2005, in Homeschooling in Full View: A Reader. Academic achievement and demographic traits of homeschool students: A nationwide study, Brian D. Ray, 2010, Academic Leadership Journal, A Sense of Self: Listening to Homeschooled Adolescent Girls. Susannah Sheffer, 1995. Home Educated and Now Adults: Their Community and Civic Involvement, Views About Homeschooling, and Other Traits, Brian D. Ray, 2004. Home schooling: The Ameliorator of Negative Influences on Learning, Brian D. Ray, Peabody Journal of Education, 2000, v. 75 no. 1 & 2, pp. 71-106. Homeschoolers on to College: What Research Shows Us, by Brian D. Ray, Journal of College Admission, 2004, No. 185, 5-11. National Education Association. (2005). Rankings and estimates: A Report of School Statistics Update. Retrieved 7/10/06 online The Truth About Boys and Girls. Sara Mead, 2006. Worldwide Guide to Homeschooling, Brian D. Ray, 2005. About the Author Brian D. Ray, Ph.D. is an internationally known researcher, educator, speaker, and expert witness, and serves as president of the nonprofit National Home Education Research Institute. He has taught as a certified teacher in public and private schools and served as a professor in the fields of science, research methods, and education at the graduate and undergraduate levels. His Ph.D. is in science education from Oregon State University and his M.S. is in zoology from Ohio University. Dr. Ray has been studying the homeschool movement for about 24 years. For more homeschool research and more in-depth interpretation of research, please contact: National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) PO Box 13939 Salem OR 97309 USA tel. (503) 364‑1490 Copyright © 2011 by Brian D. Ray