Homeschooling as a Microtrend or Major Trend?

I'd love to hear your thoughts, if you all haven't given up on my little blog.   I'm not keeping up with my blogging, as much as I'd like to since paying jobs, 4-H, helping edit our town's history quarterly and upcoming 175th History Book are over-riding that desire to blog.  Oh, yeah…there is also the Illinois Homeschool PAC and its evolving growth.  On this Sunday morning,  as I'm typing in a 1936 article about the local triplets and their year long stint in the hospital (the prolonged stay apparently for viewing purposes), I'm listening to George Will, the Christiane AND Mark Penn on ABC's This Week with the Media Pundits and was reminded of Penn's thoughts about homeschooling in his book.  My review below was posted on Corn and Oil 4 years ago.  It's my 2007 blog post with small edits here and there and I think a review of the last four years and this 'new thang' called homeschooling would be interesting – home education is really almost as old as the hills, but that's another history lesson:

It was a bit of an eye opener to see homeschooling described as any sort of trend by a political analyst such as Mark Penn in his book: Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes

His homeschool review anticipates our future in and out of the homeschooling world and is a heads up from someone who advised Bill Clinton and provided expertise to the Hillary campaign.

America's Homeschooled

Mr. Penn refers to the 2005 federal legislation written by HSLDA and sponsored by Idaho Senator Larry Craig, who bears that controversial legacy (among others). Penn suggests looking for "increasing litigation and legislation regarding home-schooled children" and "increased calls to regulate home-schooling".  It appears his concern is that those states requiring little or no notification such as in Illinois "might result, at a minimum, in an undercounting of students getting educated, or an overcounting of students "missing" from the system".  And that's a problem how, you would ask?  Why the need to count students being educated unless you are building up a bureaucratic system of counters or statisticians (as they like to call themselves).  I would think an undercounting of students (pushouts or dropouts) would be a bigger educational concern with all the connivances from public school people to hide their failure rate.  

Statistics

Penn states that "home-schoolers are looking for more recognition and more services".  That might be the case for some, but isn't the case for many homeschoolers. 

Penn continues with this no kiddin' observation about homeschoolers: "they are obviously passionately consumed with home-schooling-you know what they get asked about when they go out for cocktails or dinner".   He went on to compliment homeschoolers about "cutting through the "reams of rules and red tape to secure a place in the nation, and have already grown beyond anything the movement expected".  I can only speak for my family, but I wasn't expecting anything "movement"-wise.  We were just using the best means possible to educate and enjoy our children as they grow.  While trying to protect those inherent freedoms for our family.
Penn foresees a potential backlash against homeschoolers.  Where's he been anyway? Obviously not seeing the Macro-Trend backlash against homeschoolers.  NEA chose to put this gem on their website.  Psstt…Mr. Arnold, the only reason the NEA allowed custodians in their union is to build up their numbers and $$ and to write "well-meaning" articles like yours:
Home Schools Run By Well-Meaning Amateurs 
Schools With Good Teachers Are Best-Suited to Shape Young Minds
 by Dave Arnold, a member of the Illinois Education Association, is head custodian at Brownstown Elementary School in Southern Illinois.
As Penn sees the bottom line of "public schools becoming increasingly worrisome to parents, more and more of them-from every sector-will take it into their own hands to educate their kids".  He wondered whether "Home-schooling may eventually be replaced by Internet-based school at home, with traditional public school becoming unnecessary for more and more families". Now there's an issue that has been raised a time or two in the homeschool community.  He went on to go over international homeschool trends while noting the Muslim homeschool community as well. 
He does seem to get the picture that the homeschool community is very diverse and very drawn to their autonomy.  Penn even adds these words of encouragement for prospective homeschoolers:

Now 1 million families who want to home-school their children can find like-minded allies and share resources on the Internet-rather than feeling isolated, unprepared, or thwarted in their preference.

This is an interesting section from a seasoned political adviser about what he considers microtrends that will draw legislators' and politicians' attention as well as voters' attention.   I am encouraged that he didn't sling arrows at homeschoolers, but drew some cool headed conclusions.  Many of his thoughts are often up for debate in the homeschool community on a regular basis.  He seems to have a handle on most of his research, minus the 'number of homeschoolers' garbage from NCES.  But thorough investigation would make sense as his ventures have been fairly successful (in terms of getting his clients elected at least). 

 


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