Homeschoolers as ‘the last radicals’

I haven’t posted on homeschooling for awhile, although regular readers will know that I homeschooled my own children for six years (middle school, more or less.)

But I wanted to share a recent article on homeschooling that explores and explodes some popular stereotyping about homeschoolers – basically that we’re all religious nutcases and political conservatives. The article quotes Georgetown law professor Robin West:

“The husbands and wives in these families feel themselves to be under a religious compulsion to have large families, a homebound and submissive wife and mother who is responsible for the schooling of the children, and only one breadwinner. These families are not living in romantic, rural, self-sufficient farmhouses; they are in trailer parks, 1,000-square-foot homes, houses owned by relatives, and some, on tarps in fields or parking lots. Their lack of job skills, passed from one generation to the next, depresses the community’s overall economic health and their state’s tax base.”

Okay, that’s just crazy. There’s now been considerable research into homeschooling (I especially recommend Homeschooling in America by Vanderbilt education professor Joseph Murphy.) Homeschooling has attracted parents from a wide range of beliefs, occupations, ethnic backgrounds and incomes, although they do have a couple of things  in common: They’re not happy with traditional education options, and a majority of their kids perform at the top of the educational charts.

But what really captured my attention was Robin West’s plea to fellow liberal professors NOT to choose homeschooling for their own children. Why bother . . . unless this highly-educated cohort is, well, looking for a better educational option for their own families? I’m guessing there’s a story here.

Anyway, if you’re interested in this issue you should check the story out.


  1. metisophia

    I do wish that when homeschooling parents decide to bring their children back to traditional schools that their children were actually on grade level for reading, writing, math, participating in class, etc. Just my experience so far (20 yrs of teaching.)

  2. Ami Chopine

    I suspect many of the children going into the traditional system after homeschooling are there because the homeschool failed for whatever reason. Not all. I homeschooled in Oregon and when we lived near the poorly (even for income) performing school in the SL valley, but when I got to a better system I put my daughter in. And she was above level. The teacher suggested she test for ALPS.

  3. Bill

    nice to see posts that try to debunk the stereotype of home-schoolers. here’s another good place–in addition to Murphy’s book–to get good, objective research on homeschooling in the US and abroad:

  4. Lee Reynolds

    The threat that homeschooling poses is not only that it demonstrates the abject failure of socialized education to actually teach students, but that home-schooled children are protected from indoctrination.

    Naturally parents who home school are cast as nutcases, gap-toothed wonder-bread eating denizens of trailer parks, and other stereotypical undesirables. Such slanders are only persuasive to those who don’t pay attention.

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