Under-reported Number of Homeschoolers?

A panel of Galesburg community members offer their detailed thoughts on: What local, state, national or global story went under reported this year [2008].

Here are Tom Campbell’s thoughts below and homeschoolers can consider whether it serves the homeschool community well to be ignored or not:

Rise in homeschooling mostly ignored
A national story that went under reported in 2008 is the continued increasing number of families that homeschool their children.

The most recent numbers from the National Center for Educational Statistics shows about a 7 percent increase in the number of homeschooled students every year since the early 1980s. That brings the estimated current number of homeschooled students to over 1.3 million in the United States.

The NCES released a report in December that states homeschoolers’ numbers have grown. From their report:

Since 1999, the National Household Education Surveys
Program (NHES), conducted by the U.S. Department of
Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)
in the Institute of Education Sciences, has collected nationally
representative data that can be used to estimate the number
of homeschooled students in the United States.

The NCES (primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data..related to education in the US…) study uses this definition of homeschooler:

In this Brief, students are considered to be homeschooled
if their parents reported them as being schooled at home
instead of at a public or private school for at least part of
their education and if their part-time enrollment in public
or private school did not exceed 25 hours a week. Students
who were schooled at home primarily because of a temporary
illness are not included as homeschoolers.

A 2005 Arizona article can make one  apprehensive regarding an accurate # of homeschoolers:

The Federal Department of Education estimates that 1.1 million children were homeschooled in 2002-03, but experts at the pro-homeschooling National Home Education Research Institute say it may be closer to 2.2 million, depending on how states define “homeschool.”

There is quite a range when the number of homeschoolers,as stated, suggests numbers between 1.1 and 2.2 million with these 2 touted studies.

Why study that? Why the ‘research’ when it’s obviously  inaccurate? What data is obtained when implementing these studies? The involved government entities always say it needs to be researched further. Data collecting and tracking is irresistible (besides the obvious enticements in job creation).

Several states, including Illinois, don’t require homeschoolers to register or report so all of those state ‘numbers’ aren’t even on this radar.  But one wonders how scientific this research is.

Summary and Future Research

NCES plans to collect and report data about homeschooled students with future Parent and Family Involvement in Education Surveys (PFI), scheduled to occur on a four-year cycle. The next PFI is scheduled for 2007 as part of the National Household Education Surveys Program (NHES). The PFI surveys continue to provide a comprehensive set of information that may be used to estimate the number and characteristics of homeschoolers in the United States.

Here’s another puzzling part in these ’statistics’. If my kids were living this definition of part time enrollment up to 25 hours/week, when would we have time to live the essence of homeschooling? (The quantity and thus the quality of time just hanging out with your family living and learning?)  25 hours/week  in  a school would mean 5 hours/day in the classroom.

This also means that the public school would likely  receive funding for that student. [See Average Daily Attendance requirements for funding]. Students “enrolled in school part-time” [ 25 hours/week], but placed in the homeschooling category, enable public funding to the schools for their participation.

In our school district here, the kids would be in school from
8:20 until 1:20 every day (excluding lunch time), with 1 hour and 40
minutes left to in the school day.

Who is defining a homeschooler?  Home Education Magazine News & Commentary blogger Valerie Bonham Moon pointed out a 2005 article:

Alaskan strings ensnarl home educating families

How is the media following up on these reported ‘surveys’?

Larry and Susan Kaseman wrote an article concerning a Patricia Lines monograph. They addressed some key points concerning her writings:

Is Homeschooling Being Used as Part of a Larger Agenda?

Lines presents misleading statistics and information about homeschoolers…
Lines makes bold statements about homeschooling that she does not support with evidence, statements that, in fact, are contradicted by readily available data.
Lines misrepresents key points of education and homeschooling law…

Tom Campbell stated a fact that is often turned on its head by public school proponents. We are often told that we are costing the school districts money by homeschooling our children.

Homeschoolers even saved taxpayers an estimated $26 billion in 2008 by taking the responsibility to educate their own children instead of the public school system. Homeschooling will likely get more attention if these trends continue. – Tom Campbell

Who is watching out for homeschoolers’ freedoms?

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