The Future of School Choice: Are You Riding the Wave or Lost at Sea?
SCHOOL CHOICE AND HOMESCHOOLING Americans place a high value on education. As parents, we want our kids to succeed, and we tend to believe that the quality of instruction they receive will make a big difference in their lives and careers. And yet we often hear that American children are lagging behind their peers in other countries in terms of knowledge, skills, and test scores. Thus there have been many attempts by politicians to improve our struggling public school system, but these efforts have largely failed despite spending billions of taxpayer dollars. For decades, the push for school choice has been gaining momentum. There is now evidence to believe that the lid is about to be lifted, giving school choice the breakthrough that many parents have long hoped for. It’s now likely that this cultural ripple will soon grow into a wave that will have parents and students shouting “Cowabunga!” When this seismic shift takes place, will you and your family be riding the wave, or will you find yourselves lost and adrift at sea? In the October 2017 issue of Trends magazine, subscribers were provided data showing that homeschooled students consistently outperform their public school peers. The editors at this research organization state that the American public education system can be summarized as a nineteenth-century solution to a twentieth-century problem that is failing to adjust to twenty-first-century economic realities. They forecast that the big push for school choice will take place soon after the 2018 midterm elections, and that by 2021, states that have already taken small steps towards school choice will enthusiastically embrace it, thereby paving the way for many new educational options to be developed. Additionally, Trends predicts that courts will become friendlier toward school choice. And as academic performance of students in school-choice states begins to rise, this will trigger a national backlash against the government school monopoly. They forecast that by 2030, a K-12 education could look a lot like college today. Eventually, when parents have realistic alternatives, including home education, less than thirty percent of the population will choose public schools. If this forecast proves accurate, we’re looking at a tidal wave that will reshape the educational landscape. When my family made the school choice to homeschool back in 1996, there were barely 15,000 home-educated students in our home state of North Carolina. Twenty-two years later, the Tar Heel State has more than 127,000 students being homeschooled. According to the North Carolina Division of Non-Public Education, there are now twenty-seven percent more homeschooling students in the state than private school students! Nationally, homeschooling has also become widely accepted. There are an estimated 2.5 million homeschool students across the country, and the movement is still gaining strength. The homeschooling lifestyle provides freedom in so many ways, including the ability to set your own school calendar and weekly routine and the flexibility to adjust each day. Your children will be the beneficiaries, because you are able to customize their education to best meet their individual needs, skill levels, and interests. PAST MEGATRENDS In the early days of the automobile, Henry Ford wanted to build a car for the masses—that is, one that was affordable for middle-class Americans. Ford’s Model T was launched in October 1908, and more than sixteen million “Tin Lizzies” were sold by the time Ford ceased production of the model in 1927. The Model T was named the Car of the Century in 1999 and still ranks as the eighth-best-selling automobile of all time. Thanks in part to Ford, the move from horse-drawn carriages to the automobile was a market force that was simply unstoppable. A similar trend occurred with mobile phones. In 1997, only one in five Americans owned a cell phone. Within ten short years, however, just about every person, young and old, had a phone in hand. Then the smartphone became widely available, and today there are more mobile phones than people! My point is that some trends are so forceful that resistance is practically futile. YOUR DECISION TO MAKE HOMESCHOOLING YOUR SCHOOL CHOICE When it comes to educating your children, you have real school choices today, and you will most likely have more good school choice options in the years to come. But teaching your kids at home is an excellent school choice you can make right now. As a teaching parent and advocate for home education, I wholeheartedly recommend this adventure of a lifetime! You won’t be alone. There’s plenty of support available from the homeschool community, along with a plethora of high-quality curricula and resources to help you on your journey. So what’s preventing more parents from taking the plunge and deciding to homeschool their children? In many cases, it’s nothing more than the fear of making a significant paradigm shift. But once they get started, many parents soon discover that they had been asking the wrong questions and listening to all kinds of misconceptions. Believe me, I’ve heard them all. “What about socialization?” “How can I possibly teach subjects that I don’t know very well myself?” “What do I say to my parents and in-laws?” I challenge you to look at the research. Homeschooled students are excelling socially, academically, and in many other important ways. Homeschoolers often refer to home education as a “calling” or “lifestyle,” and in fact it’s both. But I like to call homeschooling “the adventure of a lifetime.” Why? Because like the greatest adventures, it can be rewarding, unpredictable, exhilarating, and let’s face it, even kind of scary. Sometimes the homeschool journey is like canoeing on a lazy river where you can bask in the moment and rejoice at the wonders of God’s handiwork all around you. Other times it’s more like a roller coaster ride buffeting you about with surprising twists and turns that shake your confidence. These are all accurate descriptions because ultimately, it is a walk of faith. You may not be an early adopter as homeschooling has grown by leaps and bounds over the past thirty years. And home educators are still in the minority. But the good news is that today we have access to plenty of outstanding curricula, online classes, support groups, co-ops, encouraging blogs, and state and regional homeschool conferences, and many of us have experienced friends and supportive family members who will be sources of help and counsel along the journey. Like it or not, school choice is coming like a tidal wave. Of all the options that will present themselves, I believe homeschooling is the ideal. Will you and your family be riding the wave, or will you find yourselves adrift at sea? Take courage, get off the fence, grab a surf board, and begin your own adventure. I can’t think of a more positive social setting for your kids than being with family. It’s an amazing context in which to raise, train, and teach children. Homeschooling is a profound educational movement and a market wave you don’t want to miss. It may not be the path most traveled, but taking it will make all the difference (nod to Robert Frost). HOW CAN APOLOGIA HELP? Apologia is a leading publisher of award-winning resources for homeschool students. We live and breathe in the world of home education. We exist to help you succeed in this journey. Here is a sampling of what we have to offer. We have a blog at Homeschool-101.com with encouraging articles, devotionals, printables, and free e-books. We also have articles at Apologia.com with news about product release dates and other helpful resources from everything Apologia. Our online community is alive and active. Please join the conversation at Facebook. For our raving fans, we have a Facebook group at All Things Apologia. You can also follow us at Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. We even have video channels at Youtube and Vimeo. If you are new to homeschooling or want help you get started in order to homeschool with confidence, contagious joy, and amazing focus, we have a video-driven course you can take at your own pace. Depending on the age of your kids, you can pick between these great resources: Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling or the Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Teens. Apologia is known for our award-winning curricula. Our Young Explorer series by Jeannie Fulbright takes your elementary age students through an in-depth study of seven scientific subjects (Astronomy, Botany, Flying Creatures, Swimming Creatures, Land Animals, Human Anatomy, and Chemistry & Physics.). We even have a Field Trip Journal as a practical resource during this time with your young children. For 4th through 8th graders, we publish several language arts curricula. Writers In Residence by Deb Bell teaches the art and mechanics of writing while encouraging your student to develop their individual voice in the process. This makes learning fun, motivational, and practical. Readers In Residence is designed to work in conjunction with the writing course. Another offering is Jump In by Sharon Watson, which is specifically for the reluctant writer. Apologia exists to help homeschooling families learn, live, and defend the Christian faith. The company name comes from a Greek word meaning to give an account or defense of one’s faith. Therefore it shouldn’t be any surprise that we publish Bible, apologetic, and worldview studies such as I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be An Atheist and the What We Believe series. \Homeschooling is disrupting the world of educational thought and practice. Within the homeschool community, many cutting edge opportunities exist for families to include as part of their everyday way of learning. Apologia’s Online Academy is a good example. With live and recorded options available, students can learn in the comfort of their own home, on the road, even internationally. As long as they have an Internet connection, they are good to go. Students in online courses learn from experts in their fields and gain valuable life skills including accountability, time management, and independent study. Real Refreshment Retreat February 3 Denver, CO Take Heart February 15 Online An Evening of Real Refreshment February 16 Grand Fork, ND An Evening of Real Refreshment March 9 Nashville, TN An Evening of Real Refreshment March 23 Rogers, AR An Evening of Real Refreshment April 6 Atlanta, GA An Evening of Real Refreshment April 20 Albuquerque, NM Homeschool Teacher Appreciation April 26 Online An Evening of Real Refreshment May 4 Mobile, AL Homeschooling High School & College May 17 Online An Evening of Real Refreshment June 8 Richmond, VA Walking By Faith July 26 Online Wisdom October25 Online Celebrate Homeschooling December 12 Online Walking by faith and enjoying the homeschooling adventure of a lifetime! Davis Carman © 2018 Davis Carman DavisCarman.com Homeschool-101.com Apologia.com If you enjoyed this article, read What Does God Require? Do, Love, Walk. Davis is the president of Apologia Educational Ministries, the #1 publisher of Creation-based science and Bible curriculum. He is also the author of four illustrated children’s books designed to help kids learn a biblical worldview. He believes that if there was ever a time to homeschool, it is now! Davis’s four books include: Good Morning, God, based on Deuteronomy 6, A Light for My Path, an ABC book based on Psalm 119, In the Beginning, based on the Creation account in Genesis, and Psalms to Know Early.