Home schooled children do better academically, says Time magazine. But are they better citizens?
In many ways, in fact, home schooling has become a threat to the very notion of public education. In some school districts, so many parents are pulling their children out to teach them at home that the districts are bleeding millions of dollars in per-pupil funding.
Of course, if a school district has fewer students to educate, it needs less money.
Aside from money, the drain of families is eroding something more precious: public confidence in the schools.
Surely, the loss of confidence precedes the decision to home school a child.
Thomas Jefferson and the other early American crusaders for public education believed the schools would help sustain democracy by bringing everyone together to share values and learn a common history. In the little red brick schoolhouse, we would pursue both “democracy in education and education in democracy,” as Stanford historian David Tyack gracefully puts it. Home schooling forsakes all that by defining education not as the pursuit of an entire community but as the work of one family and its chosen circle. Which can be great. Despite some drawbacks, there are signs that home-schooling parents are doing a better job than public schools at teaching their kids. But as the number of kids learning at home grows, we should pause to wonder: Better at teaching them what? Home schooling may turn out better students, but does it create better citizens?
Do semi-literates make superior citizens? I see no evidence of it.