Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Future of Homeschooling

Dana at Principled Discovery asks a question similar to the one asked by a friend recently, "Do you see homeschooling replacing public schools?" Dana quotes James Howard Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency, who sees a trend away from centralized schooling.
In the future, there will no longer be centralized school districts, or as Kunstler calls them, “pupil sheds.” Homeschooling will replace public schools, he noted. The Brown and White
Dana doesn't see it happening. "I can only imagine that if there is a complete collapse of our central government, in which case teaching our children to read may be the least of our concerns."

I think the answer depends on the definition of homeschooling. If it means complete parent directed learning with minimal government control or oversight, I'd say he's wrong. If he means the elimination of "pupil-sheds" and children learning at home or a variety of environments during the week watched over by a certified teacher, he may have a point.

Virtual charters and online academies are booming in many states and can be a means to educate more children with nominal costs to the state. However, I don't think the removal of a building means the elimination of centralized school districts or government control.

The trend points in directly the opposite direction. Obama is increasing the mandates placed on states and their schools in order to receive government funds and substantially increasing the role of the federal government in education. The President has also said that students need a safe place to go. Obama views the schools as that place and seeks to add more hours and days to the school year.

But if public schooling at home were to become the norm, the traditional idea of parent-directed homeschooling without government oversight would likely be a casualty. In fact, it would probably open the need for more laws and regulations upon all families. Too many officials in both parties believe that parents need to be monitored by the state in order to protect children from abuse or neglect. And similar to the debate in health care, it may force all parents into the public curriculum, or pay a fine if their preferred curriculum provider does not meet federal guidelines.

Homeschooling will never replace public schools until parents decide that their child's mind and heart are just too valuable to be left to state-certified strangers. And I just don't see that happening any time soon.

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