Saturday, June 06, 2009

Big Change In The Kind Of Parents Who Home School Their Kids

Parents who home-school children increasingly are white, wealthy and well-educated - and their numbers have nearly doubled in a decade, a new federal government report says. What else has nearly doubled? The percentage of girls who are home-schooled. They now outnumber home-schooled boys by a wide margin. As of spring 2007, an estimated 1.5 million, or 2.9% of all school-age children in the USA, were home-schooled, up from 1.7% in 1999.

The new figures come from the U.S. Department of Education, which found that 36% of parents said their most important reason for home schooling was to provide “religious or moral instruction”; 21% cited concerns about school environment. Only 17% cited “dissatisfaction with academic instruction.”

Perhaps most significant: The ratio of home-schooled boys to girls has shifted significantly. In 1999, it was 49% boys, 51% girls. Now boys account for only 42%; 58% are girls.

That may well be a result of parents who are fed up with mean-girl behavior in schools, says Henry Cate, who along with his wife home-schools their three daughters in Santa Clara, Calif. “It’s just pushing some parents over the edge,” says Cate, who writes the blog Why Homeschool.

Home schooling has grown most sharply for higher-income families. In 1999, 63.6% of home-schooling families earned less than $50,000. Now 60.0% earn more than $50,000. Cate says many highly educated, high-income parents are “probably people who are a little bit more comfortable in taking risks” in choosing a college or line of work. “The attributes that facilitate that might also facilitate them being more comfortable with home-schooling.”

Among the other findings:

3.9% of white families home-school, up from 2% in 1999.

6.8% of college-educated parents home-school, up from 4.9% in 1999.

Michelle Blimes home-schools her three daughters in Orem, Utah. Initially it was for academics, and now she sees social benefits. “They should be able to enjoy playing and being kids before being thrown into the teen culture,” Blimes says.


U.S. School Reforms on the Brink

The empire strikes back in Milwaukee and NYC

The education establishment and its political allies employ multiple methods to keep kids trapped in rotten schools. One tactic is to use control of school boards to prevent or limit the creation of charter schools. Another is to smother existing voucher programs with rules and red tape. Real world examples are currently playing out in Milwaukee and New York City.

The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program provides vouchers for some 20,000 low-income, mostly minority children to attend private schools. Because the 20-year-old program polls above 60% with voters, and even higher among minorities, killing it outright would be unpopular. Instead, Democratic Governor Jim Doyle wants to reduce funding and pass "reforms" designed to regulate the program to death. The goal is to discourage private schools from enrolling voucher students and thus force kids to return to unionized public schools.

To that end, Democrats in the state legislature voted last week to cut per-pupil payments to private schools by $165 while increasing public school spending by $400 per student. Taxpayer support for students in the program is only $6,607 per student to begin with, which is less that half of the $13,468 for students in Milwaukee public schools.

Those funding cuts would be accompanied by mandates of dubious academic benefit. One regulation would require schools that have already been accredited to meet additional accreditation requirements. Another would force schools to offer expensive bilingual programs that suck up scarce resources and are spurned by most immigrant parents who want their children taught in English.

The irony is that satisfaction and enrollment at Milwaukee public schools has steadily declined despite these very policies that choice opponents want to impose on successful private schools. A recent evaluation of the Milwaukee choice program found that its high school graduation rate was 85%, compared to 58% for students in the city's public schools. Between 1994 and 2008, the voucher program saved taxpayers more than $180 million. Yet opponents insist these schools need additional regulations to make them more like the public schools that cost more and produce inferior results.

Meanwhile, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is in a battle royal with the teachers union and state politicians who want to strip him of mayoral control of the schools. Since 2002, the Mayor has been able to hire and fire the schools chancellor and appoint a majority on the city's Board of Education.

Academic results argue strongly for continuing the policy, which expires June 30 unless state lawmakers renew it. According to the latest test scores, 82% of children in grades three through eight scored at or above grade level on this year's standardized tests, up from 74% last year and 57% three years ago. Mayoral control has also eased the expansion of charter schools, many of which are performing better than the district schools. In Harlem, where 19 of the 23 elementary and intermediate public schools are failing, all of the third graders at the Harlem Success Academy passed the most recent state math exam and 95% passed the English exam.

Before 2002 New York had fewer than 20 charter schools because the United Federation of Teachers, the dominant local union, blocked their growth. Thanks to mayoral control, there will be more than 100 charter schools in New York next year, which is one reason that the teachers union doesn't want the policy to continue. The great moral outrage of our time is the way the public schools establishment puts its interests ahead of children, trying to kill every school choice program whatever its success. Genuine reformers should be shouting from the rooftops.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am not familiar with schools funding outside of California, but here when they say how much is spent on sending a kid to school, one important factor is missing, the cost of the School. Schools are built with a combination of State Wide School bonds and a fee that is attached to the cost of the permit to build a new house or business. The fees to the north of me, about 10 years ago were $20,000 extra, on a new home. So when California says that it spends $7,571 per year per kid that is only for the what is send into a classroom, after that classroom is built.

From 1996 to 2006, California approved $100 Billion worth of School Bonds.

As for why parents are home schooling girls, Morality! A friend was a Chaperone at a Freshman (aged 14-15), at a local high school. He had two kids, a 14 year old boy and a 12 year old girl. He was told that unless a person grabs a “Private” area of another and doesn’t release it, then do nothing. So he saw girls flash their panties at guys and guys running their hands down the front of a girl, over the boobs and then down past the crotch. And the Official position of the school officials there, was that this was OK. Now a Extremely Moral Girl will be able to deal with this, but “peer” pressure is strong, especially with teenagers, so if most of the girls allow this, why shouldn’t another 14 year old girl? So he got to decide if he wanted his kids to be exposed to this. He got transferred to another area of work, so I never found out what happened.