If so, my daughter has just started a new blog, Not School, on the topic. She and her husband have decided to homeschool their kids, and the adventure has just begun. So much of what she says in her first entry, which partly answers the question "Why homeschool?", is all too familiar to me and, I'm sure, many others.
Over on Kos there was recently a thread in which homeschooling was hotly debated, and it emerged that homeschooling is not well thought of by a great many progressives. They argue that we must stick with the public school system in order to save it. I used to think that way myself, but changed my mind about a lot of things when we homeschooled our son through his final year of high school. The Kos people offered a lot of arguments, but when it came right down to it, I think progressives are biased against homeschooling for the simple reason that the religious right makes up the greatest number of homeschoolers.
Yet there are progressive homeschoolers, too. My first introduction to the concept of homeschooling came from a student of mine who was homeschooling her sons. At first I just assumed that she was one of the religious-right homeschoolers, but after reading some of her papers I realized that that just couldn't be. We had some conversations about homeschooling that surprised me.
Of course, all these years later, there is now an entire support network for homeschoolers. Hannah is lucky to have an active group near where she lives. These groups do field trips and other kinds of cooperative activities, as well as provide support for families as they take an unconventional path.
I just despair when it comes to the public school system. I honestly do not know what will become of it. Dropout rates are terrible (one in three kids drops out nationwide); American kids are far from being the best educated in the world; No Child Left Behind is exacerbating the monumental challenges that teachers already face, while simultaneously making real learning impossible; funding for the schools is wildly inconsistent. In the present political atmosphere, no real change--meaningful change, that takes into account the ways in which children actually learn--is going to happen any time soon, as people call for more standardized testing, more teaching of The Basics, more rigidity (school uniforms, masses of homework). When our kids were in school, all our energy was spent on the daily battles over things like getting a kid into a physics class when no tenth-grader had ever done so, or arguing that the three-paragraph essay was not necessarily the best way to teach writing. The larger issues that determine education today are vast and beyond the reach of even a group of parents to affect. I really feel that the entire society has to want change, and I don't see evidence of that.
What's happening in some states is that legislatures are becoming alarmed at the increasing number of homeschoolers and their response is to call for increasing regulation. I think we'll see more and more attempts to make homeschooling near-impossible through this kind of regulation as more people desert the public schools. It will never dawn on these legislators that the problems lie with the structure of the public schools and not with parents and families. Compulsory schooling has become a big business, with a lot at stake for those invested in it.
Anyway, do pay Not School a visit and let Hannah know what you think. I'm looking forward to a lot of good, informative posts as she and her husband embark on this trip.