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Speculation On The Causes Of A Trend

2138 words - 9 pages

Former United States Secretary of Education John W. Gardner evaluates the current state of American schooling in this way: “Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants.” Whether or not Gardner is right about schools failing to provide analytical instruction needed, something is awry in today’s public schools. The legitimacy of this assessment can be seen in the advancement of the homeschooling movement. Parents’ requirements are in some way not being fulfilled, but what area needs improvement? Schools produce sub-par academic products, Isabel Lyman indicates in her article “What’s Behind the Growth in Homeschooling?”, and they are hatcheries of crime. Kurt Bauman states in his article, “Home Schooling in the United States: Trends and Characteristics”, that while academic concerns could be a major cause, religion and values are a more prevalent theme. In short, academic and religious faults are favored by authorities as the cause of the trend, but the gradual understanding and social acceptance of homeschooling should also be considered a possible instigation. While parts of the expanding trend of home education can be accredited to factors like academic superiority and moral freedom, the main cause of the increase in the number of homeschoolers is not in the excellence of home education, but rather in the spread of the knowledge of its excellence.
Joleen Okun admits in his article “Home Schooling - History, Legal Background, Legal Trends, Effects, and Future Implications” that the estimated number of homeschoolers is somewhat unreliable, but also states that there are consistent implications of growth reaching at least 7% per year. The first real increase came in the 1980’s when states began to relax truancy and attendance laws. Prior to 1982 only two states, Nevada and Utah, had homeschooling laws. In all other states a homeschooled child was considered absent and his or her parents could be taken to court. Between 1982 and 1993 thirty-four states passed laws allowing homeschooling and by 1998 all fifty had allowed it. Although there is not an exact date, the homeschooling trend started in the late 1970’s to early 80’s because of a “deschooling movement”. It is estimated that by 1994, 360,000 school age children were homeschooled. This number grew to 790,000 in 1999 and 2.5 million by 2008 (Okun, pars. 5-6). Plausible reasons for this growth include: the desire to teach children values similar to those of the parents without competition, the harsh and often violent school environment that hampers academic achievement, and the increasing ease and availability of homeschooling as an education option. The continuation of this trend is best summarized by Kurt Bauman; he believes that this “national phenomenon” will continue “unless the needs of families are met in different ways” (Bauman, par. 43)

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