However a poll take in 1994 by the Wall Street Journal found that 28% of Americans would prefer to have their own children homeschooled (Houston & Toma 2003).
The authors further explain that the increased number of children being home schooled has created issues associated with truancy laws and in some cases been the catalyst for the passing of new laws. In fact 35 states have created new legislation related to home schooling. For instance, in some states there are hybrid forms of public-home enrollment. In addition the state of Idaho permits dual enrollment, and in California there is a district that gives parents a $1,000 voucher to home-schooled children so that they can purchase textbooks that are approved by the district. Although states have been effective in formulating and implementing laws related to home schooling, the federal government has been less effective in creating such legislation (Robertson 1994; (Houston & Toma 2003).
In addition (Ryan & Stull 2000) report that the substantial growth in homeschooling is the cause of significant change in the legal status of homeschooling.
These legal changes occurred primarily as a result of court decisions in which advocates for homeschooling challenged state compulsory education laws (Ryan & Stull 2000). As a result many states have recently created legislation that is more favorable to homeschooling (Ryan & Stull 2000). However, there are still significant differences from state to state. On the other hand, in states where homeschooling is regulated by state and local education authorities, southern and western states tend to have less regulation (and more homeschoolers) than northern and eastern states (Lyman 1998). The authors also explain that in every state most homeschooled children are at the primary school level (Ryan & Stull 2000).
Lines (2000), reports that the growth of the modern home schooling movement was a surprise to many educators. The author asserts that in 1985 an estimate of 50,000 home schooled children in America was considered wishful thinking. However, today there are millions of homeschooled children (Lines 2000). In fact the article points out that from 1990 until 1996 there were about 700,000 home schooled children. In Florida it is believed that the population of home schooled children is increasing by 15 to 20% every year (Lines 2000). In addition in most states the number of homeschooled children is increasing (Lines 2000). The author points out that this increase in home schooling is due in part to a growing frustration with both the public and private schools (Lines 2000).
The author asserts that there was a time that private schools served as the primary alternative to a public school education because they provided an alternate curriculum (Lines 2000). The author also insists that private school enrollment is effected the most by the increase in the number of children that are home schooled (Lines 2000). Indeed most research asserts that among homeschooled children who once attended school, a large percentage of these children went to private school (Lines 2000).
The author further explains that a movement focused on unstructured learning, that was present in some private schools during the 1960s, is now fading away, because many students turned to the liberal aspects of the homeschooling and to public school-choice programs (Lines 2000). In addition, the Christian schools that arose during the 1980s have also lost some of its students to homeschooling, however their growth curve was strong enough that they remain a significant presence.
Although many people choose homeschooling for religious reasons, there are also those that choose homeschooling because their children require very specific academic attention. Such was the case with Dori Staehle and her husband. The couple had two children with exceptional reading, writing, and math skills. Both children read above their grade level and had artistic tendencies (Staehle 2000).
The children complained of being bored in school and one of the children was even diagnosed with depression (Staehle 2000). The parents addressed this issue with teachers and other professionals but the school didn't have any programs for gifted students and they were not willing to make any concessions for these students based on their abilities (Staehle 2000). As a result the parents opted to begin homeschooling their children.
Throughout the course of this homeschooling the couple found that there children were learning more and the boredom disappeared. In addition, the literature seems to indicate that the concept of homeschooling is not new to America and only declined as a result of the advent of compulsory education. It is also evident that when parents became dissatisfied with compulsory education and the one size fits all approach, they began to homeschool their children. It initially began as an approach embraced by liberal parents but as the climate in the public classroom became more liberal, conservative parents also began to homeschool their children. As a result of these two forces, and the fact that many students need customized learning to excel academically, homeschooling has become a popular choice among parents looking for alternatives to the public and private school systems.
The Research Questions for the proposed study are as follows
Why do parents choose homeschooling over a private school education?
Do parents believe that there children are receiving an adequate education through homeschooling?
Did religion or moral issues play a role in the choice that parents make in homeschooling their children?
The participants for this research will be 30 families from diverse backgrounds. The term diverse background means that the families will be of differing races, religions and socioeconomic backgrounds. Conducting this study with people of different backgrounds is essential to understanding the reasons why parents in America choose to homeschool their children. The participants will be chosen from the National Home Education Network, which allows homeschoolers and their parents to converse with one another.
Methods of Data Collection
The focus of this methodology will be survey research. Survey research is often used in the social sciences and it seems it will be a great benefit for the proposed study. A survey is defined as anything that is inclusive of a short paper-and-pencil feedback form to an in-depth interview (Survey Research, 2006). For the purposes of the proposed research we will use the questionnaire form of survey. A questionnaire is most often associated with the short form paper-and-pencil survey (Types of Surveys, 2006). These surveys can be mailed or emailed to participants. For the purposes of the proposed study the questionnaires will be emailed and mailed (Types of Surveys, 2006). This method was chosen because it is inexpensive and because it will assists in achieving diversity in the study (Types of Surveys, 2006). In addition participants can fill the survey out at their own convenience (Types of Surveys, 2006). The primary disadvantage of this type of survey is that people may not respond (Types of Surveys, 2006).
Data will be collected via traditional mail and email. The participants will be given a deadline by which to return the surveys and any surveys gathered following this deadline will not be a part of the study. Once the data is collected it will be counted so that the researcher knows how many of the participants responded. The surveys will then be assessed and conclusions will be drawn.
The questionnaire will contain between 15 and 20 questions in multiple choice style. The survey will be sent to participants and they will be given one month to complete the surveys and mail or email them back to the researcher. The surveys that are not turned in by the deadline or all the questions are not answered will be discarded. The remaining surveys will be evaluated and the researcher will draw conclusions based on the responses. In addition, the researcher will answer the initial research questions based on the findings.
Benefits and Limitations
The proposed study will be important in understanding and acquiring more knowledge about school choice decisions particularly as it relates to homeschooling. Having access to such information will be beneficial in several ways. The primary benefit will be the development of a theory associated with school choice in general and homeschooling in particular. Such a theory can ultimately assists parents as they are faced with the decision of what type of education that their children will receive.
In addition this research will be beneficial because it will assist American educators in understanding why both the public and private education systems in America are being overlooked in favor of homeschooling.
Understanding this will assists educators in improving the quality of education or reducing the cost of education at the public a private school levels…
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