Home-Schooling Popularity Grows

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael Smith, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Recently, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), part of the Institute of Education Sciences under the U.S. Department of Education, released a study on home-schooling demographics. The first survey from the NCES on home-schooling was conducted in 1999, the next in 2003, and now the current survey, which is based on information compiled in 2007.

The 2007 survey estimates there are 1.5 million home-schooled children in the United States, representing 2.9 percent of the school-age population. This is up from 1.1 million in 2003, which represented 2.2 percent of the school-age population. In 1999, there were an estimated 850,000 home-schooled children, which means home-schooling has grown 74 percent since 1999, and 36 percent since 2003.

The survey also asked parents their reasons for home-schooling. The largest category selected by the parents was a concern about school environment with 88 percent. This compares with 85 percent in 2003. The next largest category was concerns over religious or moral instruction, which was chosen by 83 percent of parents. Seventy-two percent of parents cited this concern in 2003. The third highest category was dissatisfaction with academic instruction at other schools, with 73 percent agreeing with this statement in 2007 compared with 68 percent in 2003.

When the parents were asked which one of the selected reasons for home-schooling was the most important, religious or moral instruction was the highest with 36 percent. For 21 percent of parents, the most important reason was concern about the school environment, and for 17 percent, it was dissatisfaction with the academic instruction available at other schools. Other reasons, including family time, finances, travel and distance, were cited by 14 percent of parents.

The obvious conclusions that can be drawn from the survey is that home-schooling continues to grow at a significant rate. Because it is unlikely there will be any major change in public schools in the near future, it's reasonable to believe home-schooling will continue to grow. …