August 5, 2009
Recent years have seen a dramatic growth in the number of homeschooled kids. More than 1.5 million Americans now choose to educate their children at home. And that number may be growing by anywhere from 5 to 12 percent a year. As of spring 2007, 2.9 percent of all school-aged children in the U.S. were homeschooled.
What’s behind this growth? Although the Supreme Court ruled in 1925 that parents have the right to homeschool their children, the homeschooling movement didn’t really gain traction until the ‘80s and ‘90s. That’s when many decided they wanted their children to be grounded in a Christ-centered education, something not available in the public schools.
But today, homeschooling is growing dramatically among people who don’t claim Jesus as their main motivation for educating children at home. In fact, according to a 2001 Time magazine article, some three-quarters of homeschooling families said that the driving motivating factor was really simply quality of education.
Beyond that, the reasons for homeschooling are as varied as the types of parents who choose to do so. Take, for example, Leo Damrosch, a Harvard English professor, who homeschooled his two sons because his two favorite authors—men he considered geniuses—were homeschooled as well. Or Robert Phillipps from Glendale, California, who was sick of the violence his son witnessed at his elementary school. Or Susanne Allen from Atlanta, who homeschools because she believes it will teach her children to care for each other and, therefore, the rest of society.
You know, Susanne may be on to something. One study by the Fraser Institute in Vancouver indicated that homeschoolers tend to be more mature, happy, and better socialized than their peers.
They also boast better academic performance. Standardized test scores for homeschoolers are well above that of private and public school students. And in a survey of those homeschooled between the ages of 18 and 24 years old, 74 percent have taken college-level courses, compared with only 46 percent for the general U.S. population. Homeschoolers have also made a name for themselves in national spelling and geography contests.
Many states have discovered that homeschooling is saving taxpayer dollars. Nevada homeschoolers save the state education budget between $24 and $34 million in expenses per year. And one estimate places North Carolina’s savings at a whopping $546 million per year.
Of course, homeschooling is just one option, and many parents choose to send their children to public or private schools. But with the growing cultural decline in our country and the growing concern over the quality of education, there’s no question that more and more Christian parents will be either homeschooling their children or sending them to private Christian schools.
Wherever we choose to send our children to school, our goal is to raise our children to love God and to love others. We want them to become productive citizens, not only of this earthly society, but of the Kingdom as well.
Visit our website at BreakPoint.org, where you’ll find more information on homeschooling and links to organizations that help Christian parents teach their kids at home.
Note: This commentary delivered by PFM President Mark Earley.
Chuck Colson’s daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.