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Politics & Policy

A Reply to the Enemies of Home Schooling

Benjamin Keagle (L), helps his brother, James Keagle, with a homeschool assignment in St. Charles, Iowa September 30, 2011. (Brian C. Frank/Reuters)

A pair of law professors, Elizabeth Bartholet of Harvard and James Dwyer of William & Mary, recently sparked a furor over homeschooling, which they regard as dangerous for children and suggest banning. We’ve become used to irresponsible blather from academics on a wide range of topics, but until now they’ve mostly ignored homeschooling. With so many parents now in charge of educating their children, the statists are beginning to freak out over this exercise of liberty.

In today’s Martin Center article, Brian Ray and Carlos Valiente look at the data showing how well homeschooled students do.

They write, “A growing body of research indicates that graduates of home-based education excel. Eleven of the 16 peer-reviewed studies on success into adulthood (including college) showed that homeschoolers had better results for political tolerance, college GPA, and college retention than students in conventional schools. After reviewing the relevant literature, Gloeckner and Jones concluded that the ‘comparative results of the studies reported in this review, combined with the data collected from college admission officers provide evidence that homeschooling is an effective alternative path to college for the children of many families.’”

Yes, if you look hard enough, you can find some instances of neglect and abuse when parents choose to school their children at home, but you don’t have to look hard at all to find loads of evidence of neglect and abuse in public schools. Maybe we ought to ban them.

The real reason why “progressive” academics oppose homeschooling isn’t really the possibility of neglect and abuse, argue Ray and Valiente. Instead it’s that the academic elites don’t like the values of parents who homeschool their children. They want the state — government officials — to be in charge of educating children, not parents. Parents, after all, might balk at indoctrinating their kids with stuff like, say, the New York Times‘s “1619 Project.”

The authors conclude, “College personnel, employers, and independent business advocates should be glad about homeschooling. It is a form of free enterprise. It costs taxpayers less than public schooling and its graduates are well-equipped to be the next generation of entrepreneurs, leaders, parents, householders, creators, and everyday citizens.”

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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