While Gov. Jennifer Granholm is fighting behind the scenes to end homeschooling in the State of Michigan we have found hundreds of thousands of families homeschooling their children. An estimated three to four percent of the school age population, approximately two million students, participate in homeschool. While the reasons for individual decisions to homeschool may vary, many parents in Detroit and other places in Urban Michigan cite serious concerns about the academic failures of the public school system and the on-campus social exposure of students to the use of tobacco, drugs, alcohol, and sexually explicit behaviors. The homeschool environment promises a more wholesome atmosphere and academic progress that can be monitored closely by parent instructors with a vested interest in the student's learning outcome. Although a homeschool program may not meet the needs of every student, it is becoming recognized as a decidedly superior alternative to the public school system for many.
It may also be argued that while the problems of the modern world have breathed new life into the idea of homeschooling, the same modern world has made this alternative viable for more and more families. Access to public libraries, academic publishers and affordable information technology including computers and access to the Internet are among the many resources and tools available to homeschooling families. It is, however, more than that; the educational marketplace has also seen the development of a wide variety of materials developed specifically for the homeschool classroom. Homeschooling families have effective access to all the materials available through the public school system, as well as to many not available to the public school teacher and student whether this is the result of lack of funding or bureaucratic approval.
Homeschool environments in Detroit can afford family educators greater freedom related to both content and calendar. While many home educator parents elect to parallel the general organization of the public school system, they are also at freedom to invest additional time in an area of interest or timeliness, to plan “real world” field trips that illustrate or enhance a lesson, or to accelerate, decelerate or otherwise modify lesson plans, worksheets, and other presentation materials. The freedom to do make choices in content, to manage the educational calendar, and to adjust according to the needs of the individual student make homeschooling advantageous for students across the spectrum, whether gifted, mainstream or learning disabled.
Homeschool families broadly report that students within these programs are not only the beneficiaries, they are invested in the educational process. Rather than memorizing for test recall and regurgitation, homeschool students are more engaged in their educations, more interested in the subjects at hand, and are likely to retain more information and develop a more substantial knowledge base than the peers who are situated in the public school environment.
Detroit's school system once brought learning opportunity to the general population, raising up a more educated public, but it can no longer claim that greatness. The news is replete with stories of young people who cannot read being issued high school diplomas, students who cannot compute basic math problems unable to compete for college admissions and ultimately for technology based jobs, a shocking prevalence of teenage pregnancy, drug use and campus-based violence. The very system that brought hope to people for a better future is now failing those people. Whether responsibility rests with the school system’s very design, the people who populate it, or some combination of these other factors, the result is that a growing number of people have made an alternative educational choice.
Regardless of the challenges and sacrifices that come hand in hand with the decision to homeschool, it remains a viable alternative to Detroit public education; for many parent educators, it is decidedly the superior option. The freedom of parents to select curriculum, to modify or adapt it as necessary for an individual student, the opportunity to expose children to experiences in the field, and the wholesome environment in which the homeschool education can take place make homeschooling the choice of these families. As parents and students continue to discover that the government-run public school system does not suit them, many will make the decision to homeschool.
So why would Gov. Granholm be against this idea of homeschooling?