In honor of National School Choice Week – let’s keep the education reform going!

Suggestion #14: Unleash the power of homeschooling.

Parents should have the right to choose the form of education that they deem best for their children. For some parents, the public education system is not a viable option (there are a variety of reasons, including quality, safety, location, and differing values), while the cost of private schools often renders them inaccessible. In that case, another alternative that families have taken advantage of is homeschooling. According to the National Home Education Research Institute, over 2 million students were homeschooled in 2010 – a number that has been rising over the years.

Homeschooled students do as well (and often, better) academically than their public- and private-school cohorts. Unfortunately, homeschools have come under attack time and again from state legislators and established interests like teachers’ unions for reasons like “socialization” – while conveniently overlooking the “quality education” aspect that most parents care about.

In addition, homeschooling has been made a little less appealing to parents by placing an additional financial burden on its proponents. While public schools benefit from government funding, most parents of homeschoolers (Illinois, Louisiana, and Minnesota are the exceptions) are forced to operate out of pocket, using after-tax dollars (and let’s not forget, their tax dollars are being spent on schools that they aren’t using).

Congress should endorse education reforms that empower parents to choose the best education for their children – wherever that may be. Making it easier for homeschooling parents to operate, through steps like standardizing tax credits, would send a clear message to families that it’s ok to take a different path, if that’s what they determine their child needs.