Unsocialized religious freaks living in the sticks. That’s how many critics view homeschoolers. But according to TIME magazine, it’s an uninformed caricature of an increasingly popular form of education.
“Today, as many as 2 million—or 2.5 percent—of the nation’s 77 million school-age children are educated at home, and increasing numbers of them live in cities. More urban parents are turning their backs on the compulsory-education model and embracing the interactive, online educational future that policy entrepreneurs have predicted for years would revolutionize pedagogy and transform brick-and-mortar schooling.”
So why is it that more families are turning to home education? In a nutshell, they feel that the public schools no longer have anything of value to offer.
“Like other homeschoolers these days, urbanites choose homeschooling for various reasons, though dissatisfaction with the quality and content of instruction at local public schools heads the list. ‘I got through public school, but it was never something I thought was an option for my children,” says [Rachel] Figueroa-Levin. A native Staten Islander, she is a columnist for amNewYork, a free daily newspaper, and creator of the satirical Twitter account @ElBloombito, which gained 76,000 followers for its gentle skewering of former mayor Michael Bloomberg’s halting attempts at press-conference Spanish. She calls her local public school ‘awful,’ but she’s not interested in moving to a more desirable school zone, as some New Yorkers with small children do. ‘We like where we live. We have a nice-size apartment. Sacrificing all that for a decent public school just doesn’t seem worth it,’ she says.
But even after more than a decade of aggressive education-reform efforts, the ‘decent public school’ remains a rarity in New York and in other American cities.”
It’s also noteworthy that homeschoolers are outperforming their traditionally-schooled counterparts. TIME magazine reports that homeschoolers score nearly 40 points higher on standardized tests and are 10% more likely to graduate from college.
Annie Holmquist is the editor of Intellectual Takeout.