You’re surprised I waited so long for this one, right?  I value home education so highly that my gratitude for that privilege almost goes without saying.  (But gratitude should never go without saying.)   Because my joyous thanksgiving for the legal protection that homeschoolers now enjoy cannot be overstated, I will understate it here.

Educational opportunities have expanded for everyone, not just homeschoolers, over the last 50 years.

When I was a child living in upstate New York, educational choices for most families were simple:  Your children went to the local public school after they turned five years old.  If you were Catholic, you had one more choice:  parochial school.

Later we moved to the Philadelphia Main Line, where there were several well-established private schools to choose from—if you were wealthy and willing to commute.

Today?  There still isn’t as much choice as I would like, as the system is heavily weighted in favor of public schools and against parents who choose another path.  But tremendous improvements have been made.

  • Education is now provided for all children; in the past, “all children are to be provided a free, public education” often did not apply to children with handicaps.
  • Homeschooling is legal in every state, albeit with varying degrees of governmental interference.
  • Within the home education realm itself, materials and support (and with them, options) have exploded over the last 20 years.
  • Private school options have multiplied:  non-Catholic Christian schools, Muslim schools, Montessori schools, unschools, specialty academic schools—if there’s an idea, someone has turned it into a school.
  • Public school options have also multiplied, with magnet schools, charter schools, and in some (too few) places even the right to choose which regular public school to attend.  Even limited competition has encouraged public schools to be less complacent.

Would I call the system great?  No.  In some ways schooling is worse now than when I was a child, although to be fair that’s mostly due to sociological changes.  But overall the system is much better than it was 50, or even 25 years ago, because we have choices.  Whether in the end we choose public, private, or home education—or a combination thereof—we (and our children) are better off for having the opportunity to make these decisions, rather than passively accepting the status quo.

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 6:07 am | Edit
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