Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Homeschool Report Finds: 80% were homeschooling for non-religious reasons

A poorly written and researched AP article Top Homeschool Text Dismiss Evolution spread across the Internet like wildfire bringing the anti-homeschoolers out in droves.

The comments at Think Progress were particularly nasty. On the other hand the debate at Pharyngula's was extremely interesting and for the most part civil. I have to say I was surprised by PZ Myers stance on Homeschooling.
I'm one of those people who thinks we ought to be consistent and require everyone to attend an accredited school, public or private, and that private schools ought also to be required to meet certain secular standards, such as that their science education ought to address the evidence reasonably.

For some reason I expected him to be a homeschool supporter, oh well at least he can sing. And who knows maybe after reading the comments from the secular homeschoolers he will change his mind.

The big hang up for a lot of the anti homeshcoolers was the result of this poorly worded survey
Federal statistics from 2007 show 83 percent of home-schooling parents want to give their children "religious or moral instruction."
As one of the Atheist commentators (LadyShea) pointed out even Atheist may have checked this answer because most parents want to provide their children with some sort of moral instruction. So it didn't necessarily mean that 83% of homeschoolers were religious zealots as most of the anti homeschoolers assumed.

Also the study was preformed by the National Home Education Research Institute which is linked to HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association run by the Evangelical Fundies). See Milton Gaither's post Brian D. Ray and NHERI, part 2 for more information on the link between NHERI and HSLDA

Another survey Tapestry of Homeschool Survey Report paints a far different picture of homeschoolers.
  • 90% of the respondents were married, 4% were single, a little over 3% were in domestic partnerships.
  • 80% were homeschooling for non-religious reasons.
The Tapestry of Homeschooling Survey Report was conducted by Learning is for Everyone. Because these statistics don't jibe with the anti-homeschoolers misconceptions some of them  were loath to accept the survey.

The sources the AP article cited are
Apologia Educational Ministries: http://www.apologia.com
Bob Jones University Press: http://www.bjupress.com/page/HS+Home
Jerry Coyne's blog, "Why Evolution is True": http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/

Jerry Coyne is a scientist and his only contribution to the article was to give his opinion on the textbooks. I personally think he was to kind to the publishers as their textbooks are truly awful in my opinion.

Apologia Educational Ministries and Bob Jones University Press are two Christian Publishing Companies that have a vested interest in convincing people that if they homeschool they must buy their products. Did the AP reporter really expect them to say "Oh, some homeschoolers do use textbooks from Secular Publishers"?  Why were no Secular Publishers who cater to the homeschooling market interviewed. Saxon a well know Publisher of Math Textbooks has a site just for homeschoolers Saxon Home School.

Now thanks to sloppy reporting by the AP many people have come away with a false sense of what homeschooling looks like. I can just hope the truth about how diverse the homeschooling community truly is will travel across the Internet as quickly.


  1. As I'm still a new homeschooler, I haven't found a set curriculum yet. I have a couple years before that happens. Now I am also a Christians, but I don't homeschool because of my religion. I homeschool mainly due to the lack of safety and proper education in the school system.
    As for evolution and anti-evolution text books, I'm pretty much believe in both God and evolution, as I'm sure I've mentioned before. I plan to teach my son both God created the world and this is how He scientifically did it...evolution...over time...designed that way. I would love to find a text that encompasses both, but I'm pretty sure that I'll have to keep science and spiritual lessons seperate and that's fine by me too, since they are indeed two different things.
    I respect all other opinions, I actually do. I think that all parents have a right to teach their children as they see fit, because those children will still grow up and decide for themselves. I did. I was never taught evolution or the big bang...I had to figure all that out when I took a univeristy astronomy course and had no idea what they were talking about...I learned quickly, but I didn't feel like I had a disadvantage from the other students, just a different life experience.

    With all that said...Thank for always bringing the homeschooling news to light and sharing the debate so well!!!

  2. While I don't know of a textbook that covers theistic evolution. There are resources. Two I used are:

    (Book) The Language of God by Francis S. Collins
    (Website) Ken Miller's Evolution Page http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/evol/

  3. I second the recommendation for Dr. Collins' The Language of God. Another good book is God's Universe by Dr. Owen Gingerich of Harvard.

    I've heard that the BioLogos Foundation, which Dr. Collins is affiliated with, is working on a curriculum for private Christian schools and Christian homeschoolers that will provide a theistic POV on evolution. I hope that they get it published soon as there's a real need for it IMHO in the market.

  4. For the more than 20 years I have been homeschooling,over 90% of homeschoolers have some sort of religious affiliation. Is that wrong??????

  5. Romona, I suppose that depends on what you mean by "some sort of religious affiliation", most public school students have "some sort of religious affiliation" too.

    Many secular and inclusive homeschooleres ARE NOT homeschooling for religious reasons but they still have "some sort of religious affiliation". While I consider myself a secular homeschooler I also consider myself a Christian.

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