Homeschooling: Left Behind, Jumping Ahead

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Left Behind: Not just a series of novels

In 1999, there were an estimated 850,000 homeschool students, K-12, in the U.S. (National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2007). By 2010, that number had more than doubled to an estimated 2.04 million students (National Home Education Research Institute, 2011). While there has been continuous growth in the homeschool community since its beginnings in the early 1960s, this most recent jump in numbers is unusual, and suggests a catalyst for a movement away from public schools. One obvious reason is the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). Introduced by President George W. Bush at the beginning of his presidency, the act is famously controversial, although the majority would agree that it is not beneficial to the school system. A 2009 Gallup poll showed that 50% of the Americans involved who were reportedly very familiar with the act believed that it has made public school students’ education worse, while only 22% believed it has made education better. While NCLB has no doubt been a major factor in many parent’s decisions to homeschool their children, it does not account for the relatively slow but steady growth of homeschooling in the decades before its introduction, and there are many, many other reasons parents might choose alternative education.

Religion and politics and death and taxes

Some common stereotypes associated with homeschooling are that homeschoolers are antisocial, that they don’t learn about the “real world”, and that their parents are religious nuts who homeschool only to indoctrinate their children without giving them options. While most stereotypes have at least some basis in truth, the fact that homeschooling is becoming more and more popular contr...

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