Public charter schools are a hot topic among us education wonks. Charters have been growing rapidly. They enroll more than two million students. Research papers on them proliferate. Editorials worry over what this exodus of kids and their involved parents is doing to regular public schools.
Pop quiz! Cover the next paragraph, which has the answer. The question: What other fast-growing education alternative also now enrolls more than two million students? This alternative seems just as important as charter schools, but education experts rarely discuss it and researchers pass it by.
Give up? It's home-schooling. The decision by so many parents to remove their children from local schools and teach them at home raises many issues, but we know little about it. Homeschoolers are beyond the reach of school district data collectors and federally-required exams. They are scattered around the country, rather than clumped together in big city districts like charter school families.