It appears that in the U.S., homeschooling is the fastest-growing form of education, according to independent research conducted by organizations ranging from the National Home Education Research Institute (www.nheri.org), a nonprofit research and educational organization, to the federally funded National Center for Education Statistics (www.nces.ed.gov).
Let’s take a look at some of the evidence:
• “Homeschooling grew from 1.7% of the school age population in 1999 to 2.9% in 2007, a 74% relative increase over 8 years,” states Dr. Brian D. Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI).
• A 2008 study found that “an estimated 2.0 to 2.5 million K–12 children were home educated in the U.S. during mid-2008,” statistics that were also confirmed by NCES.
• Last week, in their local news coverage, Chattanooga’s News Channel 9 reported: “In the last decade, the number of homeschoolers has far more than doubled, according to the Department of Education” (WTVC-TV, August 13, 2010).
The increasing popularity of homeschooling should not come as a surprise. Homeschooling, a term referring to “parent-led, home-based education,” is now bordering on “mainstream” in the United States. In a 2008 article, SaveMoneyHomeschooling.com stated: “If homeschooling continues to grow at 7–12% per year for the next 5 years, we could see the percent of homeschooling students increase to 5 million, which is about 10% of the total children in K–12 education.” “Homeschooling high school is no longer uncharted territory . . . . There are a multitude of homeschooled graduates who are bearing fruit in the workplace, in the military, in their families, and in colleges across the country,” 9 states the Home-School Legal Defense Association, an organization whose purpose is to “defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children.”
Gena Suarez, publisher of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, is not at all surprised by the increased popularity of homeschooling: “During the past thirty years, homeschooling families have proven that parents can do a better job than the public school—socially and academically. Homeschooling works; everybody wins.”
As the homeschooling movement continues to expand, and as graduates from among their ranks assume positions of leadership and responsibility in the United States, our nation will be watching. Most citizens would agree that our nation is in desperate need of wise, well-educated leaders: men and women of integrity, curiosity, strength, and courage. The fact that homeschooling is the fastest-growing form of education in our country may just offer our nation that hope we’re looking for.