J.D. Tuccille at Reason wrote an interesting piece on how parents are taking education into their own hands to homeschool instead of waiting for school choice (even though homeschooling is a choice) or reform to occur with the public school system.
He notes the impact Common Core has made to increase homeschooling numbers.
More quietly, though, many American families have opted out of institutional education of any sort, taking on the responsibility of teaching their own children. From 1.1 million kids in 2003, the ranks of the homeschooled increased to 1.8 million in 2012—and anestimated 2.3 million this year, catching up quickly with the charter population. Homeschooled children outnumbered those enrolled in North Carolina’s private schools as of 2014 after a whopping 27 percent increase in just two years.
My son is part of the surge in the number of children learning at home. The reason for our choice is ably captured in a point made by John Taylor Gatto, a former New York State Teacher of the Year who became a critic of government-controlled education. In his 2008 book, Weapons of Mass Instruction, Gatto wrote about the difference between schooling and education. “Education is a matter of self-mastery, first; then self-enlargement, even self-transcendance—as all possibilities of the human spirit open themselves into zones for exploration and understanding. There are points where the two conditions inform one another, but in schooling, somebody else’s agenda is always uppermost.”
You could say the same of any institution—that its interests overwhelm the individual concerns of the people within it. But that’s why it’s always a good idea to have alternatives and an exit strategy for when “somebody else’s agenda” is incompatible with your own.
Such incompatibility has become a serious concern even with popular charter schools. Aside from the fact that there’s always a potential mismatch between a family’s priorities and a school’s, even in an independently operated institution, charter schools face growing regulatory burdens that push them to consolidate and homogenize. Controversial national education standards have added to that burden, since they fall on charter schools as well as traditional public schools. “Some 2 million families have decided that charter schools are the best place for their children,” the Goldwater Institute’s Jonathan Butcher warned. “But under Common Core, these schools’ options for differentiating themselves could be limited.”
As of yet, homeschoolers face no comparable regulatory threats. Opposition to Common Core was part of the inspiration for the surge in homeschooling in North Carolina, according to the Charlotte Observer, and the same phenomenon is at work across the country. Rather than expend their time and energy battling to change a stubborn institution (North Carolina officials spent a year investigating a replacement for Common Core before deciding to keep the standards in place), parents walked out the doors and took on the task of education themselves.
The growth over the last two years has been incredible, and right now homeschooling is the best option to avoid the day to day impact Common Core brings. Certainly there are some homeschooling publishers who have aligned their books with Common Core, but they are still a minority. Also there is concern about college entrance exams, but ACT has not aligned as of yet, and there is another alternative that is being field tested.
In some states homeschooling may be the best option.