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Survey: Homeschoolers new political force

Posted By Art Moore On 10/23/2003 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled

An unprecedented new study of adults who were homeschooled not only contradicts assertions they lack socialization but shows them far more likely than the average American to be civically minded and engaged in their local communities.

Parents who homeschool often are asked, “Aren’t you concerned about your child’s socialization?” notes the survey’s author, Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute in Salem, Ore.

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Brian Ray

Time magazine, in a feature, posed a similar question, he pointed out: “Homeschooling may turn out better students, but does it create better citizens?”

The answer, he says, is an emphatic yes. But not only does homeschooling turn out more active citizens, it produces Americans who tend in overwhelming numbers to hold conservative values.

It’s the biggest story behind the story, says Ray, who conducted the survey of 7,300 homeschooled adults on behalf of the Virginia-based Home School Legal Defense Association.

“It’s one thing to say they get jobs, get married and have families – which they do – but for those who want a very different set of presuppositions running adults’ lives and determining how they vote, this will be bothersome,” he told WorldNetDaily.

That’s because, Ray explained, a “very large proportion follow a traditional Judeo-Christian worldview and believe in the founding concepts of liberty and limited government along with active participation by citizens.”

“Those kinds of ideas are not cherished by many in positions of academia,” he said, noting this is where much of the criticism originates.

According to some estimates, the number of homeschoolers in the U.S. is as high as 2.5 million.

Ray, who says the modern homeschooling movement began about 25 years ago, has taught in public institutions from elementary through the university graduate level and has studied homeschooling for about 19 years. He has a Ph.D. from Oregon State University in science education.

More involved

Only 4 percent of the homeschool graduates surveyed consider politics and government too complicated to understand, Ray found, compared to 35 percent of U.S. adults.

The study showed homeschool graduates work for candidates, contribute to campaigns and vote in much higher percentages than the general population of the United States.

For example, 76 percent of homeschool graduates surveyed between the ages of 18 to 24 voted within the last five years, compared to only 29 percent of the corresponding U.S. population.

Homeschool graduates in older age brackets show even higher numbers, with voting levels of 95 percent or higher compared to a high of 53 percent for the relevant U.S. populace.

Ray said people who doubt homeschoolers are becoming socialized typically have two presuppositions.

“One is that for adequate ability in terms of social chit-chat and being able to talk at a cocktail party, you probably need to attend an institutional school for 13 years of your life, because that has been the norm for about 100 years,” he said.

“The second, he continued, “is that schools run by state-certified teachers generally know the best ways for a child to acquire knowledge and worldviews.”

The first assumption has been found to be unwarranted by a number of studies already, Ray says, and the latest survey of adults reaffirms that.

“The second one is more difficult to deal with, because it’s more philosophical,” he said.

Studies show worldview largely depends on associations as people get older, Ray said, rather than the influence of the school system, but the homeschoolers are much more likely than others to align with the beliefs of their families.

Ray said there is a certain percentage of homeschoolers who would not align themselves with conservative values and politics, “but if you get those two groups together, they both believe very strongly in the jurisdiction of parents over their lives rather than state.”

“Homeschooling will tend to develop students with strong independent thinking and critical-mindedness,” he said.

Community service

The study shows 71 percent of the homeschool graduates participate in an ongoing community service activity such as coaching a sports team, volunteering at a school or working with a church or neighborhood association, compared to 37 percent of U.S. adults of similar ages.

Eighty-eight percent of the homeschool graduates surveyed were members of an organization such as a community group, church or synagogue, union, or professional organization, compared to 50 percent of U.S. adults.

The survey also shows the completion of homeschooling is not the end of formal education for most homeschool graduates.

Over 74 percent of home-educated adults ages 18 to 24 have taken college-level courses, compared to 46 percent of the general U.S. population.

In its synopsis of the study, the Home School Legal Defense Association said it presented good news for homeschooling parents wondering whether they made the right choice for their children, showing 95 percent of the homeschool graduates were glad they were taught at home.

The vast majority said homeschooling has not hindered them in their careers or education.

Eighty-two percent said they would homeschool their own children, and of the 812 study participants who had children age 5 or older, 74 percent already were doing it.

The survey also indicates homeschoolers are content with their lives overall.

Fifty-nine percent of the subjects reported that they were “very happy” with life, and another 39 percent declared they were “pretty happy.”

Ray said it is possible respondents were motivated by a desire to make themselves and homeschooling in general look better, but pointed out he implemented all the usual scientific safeguards used in social studies of this kind. He said he made sure the study included homeschoolers who had a bad experience and tested the data with quantitative and qualitative studies.


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