If We Want Homeschooling to Flourish, Keep the State Out of It

Published in Children's Rights .

In the 2020s and beyond, homeschooling will grow into one of the hottest political topics in the nation. From public schools across the nation running into fiscal problems to people worrying about the increasingly political nature of public education, there will be plenty of opportunities for homeschooling and similar educational arrangements to position themselves as alternatives to the public education status quo.

During the last two decades, homeschooling has been on the uptick. In a previous article, I noted that the homeschooling population increased from 850,000 in 1999 to 1.7 million in 2016. That increase is starting to catch the attention of a legacy media outlet such as National Public Radio (NPR). NPR recently posed the question, “How Should we Regulate Homeschooling?”

Kerry McDonald of the Foundation for Economic Education is pushing back against suggestions for homeschooling regulation. She identifies the real endgame behind efforts to regulate homeschooling—control. We see this regulatory control in countless other areas, such as small businesses and even the dietary choices we make. This type of regulatory overreach is most blatant in the education sector, with the government dominating public education while also trying to get its paws on the homeschooling sector.

In recent history, homeschooling re-emerged as an alternative to the state module of mass public education. As homeschooling has gradually grown, it has caught the attention of the political class, who are more than eager to hamstring it through regulation. The good news is that there hasn’t been any comprehensive federal measure to regulate homeschooling, so states have leeway in crafting homeschooling policies. Some states are hands-off on homeschooling, while others ask that homeschool educators conduct yearly check-ins or share lesson plans.

This may not be ideal, but this allows the homeschooling sector enough breathing room to grow and innovate. However, we live in the era of the managerial state, where there are still busybodies out there who want to swoop in and micromanage homeschooling outright.

They’ll appeal to fears about homeschooling being “unsafe” or how it leaves students susceptible to indoctrination. Such concerns ignore the very real frequent cases of violence in inner-city schools and the literal indoctrination students receive at public schools, which turns them into cogs in the wheel, susceptible to government propaganda, rather than critical thinkers. If anything, homeschooling offers a clean break from those dangers.

With nearly two million homeschoolers in America, the market is indicating that there is a homeschooling niche people are willing to step into and provide resources for. Let’s be real, the one-size-fits-all educational model we see in public schools does not work for everyone. Homeschooling is not a silver bullet, but it provides one of many methods that parents can turn to in order to ensure the quality of their children’s educational experience.

The surge in homeschooling reflects free families banding together to provide instruction customized for the student throughout America. And we can thank the government’s intrusion in the education sector for crowding out other private alternatives and making our children’s education a rather dull experience.

No matter how burdensome the government gets, market forces still find ways to provide, as witnessed with homeschooling’s growth. For that reason, we should celebrate homeschooling’s rise, while also advocating for policies that keep the state out of this form of education.

If we have to ask, “How should homeschooling be regulated?” then we’re asking the wrong question.

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