The New York Times ran a generally sympathetic article about homeschooling yesterday. Among other things, the piece points out that the latest wave of school-free families "resist easy classification as part of the religious right or freewheeling left, who dominated the movement for decades." It also notes that the factors fueling the recent homeschooling explosion include the new, politically generated national education standards:
They come to home schooling fed up with the shortcomings of public education and the cost of private schools. Add to that the new nationwide standards -- uniform curriculum and more testing -- which some educators say penalize children with special needs, whether they are gifted, learning disabled or merely eccentric.
"It's a profound irony that the standards movement wound up alienating more parents and fueling the growth of home schooling," said Mitchell L. Stevens, an educational psychologist at New York University and author of "Kingdom of Children: Culture and Controversy in the Homeschooling Movement" (Princeton University Press, 2001).
"The presumption of home schooling is that children's distinctive needs come before the managerial needs of the schools," he said. "And, it's easier to do than it was 10 years ago, because the ideologues were so successful in making it legal and creating curriculum tools and organizational support."