NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Lowering Barriers to Home Schooling

September 3, 2003

Instead of accepting -- even welcoming -- the valuable role home-school supporters can play in increasing choices, too many traditional educators are setting up roadblocks, says USA Today. Some states impose excessive paperwork demands on home-schooling parents, even when their children appear to be flourishing academically. Many school districts deny home-schooled children the opportunity to participate in music and sports activities at local schools.

Such moves can needlessly deprive public schools of valuable alliances with taxpayers and advocates of quality education.

Yet there are several proven ways can help more states and school districts reach out to home-schooling parents.

First, schools can work with parents is by funding online teaching. For example,

  • The Florida Virtual School is a public school that conducts classes over the Internet.
  • Students include not only home-schoolers but also students looking for courses their local schools don't offer or more flexible class schedules.
  • Maine did so in May as one of several states that acceded to home-schooling parents' requests to be treated more like families in private schools.
  • In recent years, Oregon, Arkansas and Arizona have loosened onerous rules aimed at home-schoolers.
  • In July, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a bill requiring the state's 501 school districts to open sports teams and other extracurricular activities to home-schoolers.
  • The measure, which goes to the state senate this fall, reflects a national trend granting home-schooled students use of some public-school services.

Those critical of home schooling argue that parents often fall short as competent teachers. To date, however, there is no evidence of a significant problem of home-schooled children receiving poor educations. In fact, research suggests home schooling can be very effective, says USA Today.

Source: Editorial, "Support for home-schoolers can pay off for all students," USA Today, September 3, 2003.

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