I was recently interviewed for a special issue of CQ Researcher, a bimonthly public policy publication that attempts to offer a comprehensive look at hot-button issues. The March 7, 2014 edition examines the topic of homeschooling. The complete issue, written by Marcia Clemmitt, features several articles and is available here.
In an effort to provide a "balanced" view of the topic, the issue is sometimes longer on opinion than fact, but nevertheless offers a multi-perspective analysis of what I consider one of the most interesting developments in American educational history.
My comments appear in a section called, "Can home schooling help public schools?" Relevant passage:
In the long run, says Gary Houchens, an associate professor of educational administration, leadership and research at Western Kentucky University, the public schools badly need fresh ideas about how to tackle today's tough education demands, and the experiences of home-schoolers might provide some insights.
“The current structures of education have outlived their usefulness,” Houchens says. That's largely because, for the first time in history, “we have to figure out how to do something that schools were never designed to do — educate all students to proficiency,” he says. It's clear by now that this unprecedented task cannot be achieved using many standard school practices, such as “age-level groupings, a fragmented curriculum, days broken up into 60-minute periods by traditional subject matter such as reading or math, and letter grades,” he says.
But what new practices and structures might effectively replace those models remains a mystery, Houchens says. He argues that the embrace of home schooling by more and more parents might provide some answers, if educators study them. “What does it mean that kids can be educated in their own homes at least to a comparable level that they are in schools” and that some people find homeschooling “a personalized model that schools don't provide and that seems to work better for their child?” he asks.
Actually, while I do believe that no one knows what the future holds, the features of America's emerging schooling structures are becoming more clear to me. Whatever education looks like later this century, I believe families will demand more personalization, flexibility, and choice than the traditional structure of state-run schooling can provide. And it is in these features that high-quality homeschooling excels.
Read my review of Joseph Murphy's excellent book, Homeschooling in America: Capturing and Assessing the Movement, here, along with my thoughts on what all of this means for people who work in traditional schools. A version of this post also appeared on Penelope Trunk's homeschooling website.
Read my post, "Countering educators' bias against homeschooling," here.