According to the National Education Association, homeschooling programs “based on parental choice cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience.” If the NEA wrote it, that seems to be good enough for ESPN action sports writer Matt Higgins. In his article titled, “Home is where the school is,” he went on to opine that “homeschool students are not required to take standardized tests under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Therefore, direct comparisons between student performance at traditional schooling versus homeschool are difficult to make.” Fortunately for homeschoolers, we know better. Unfortunately for homeschoolers, Matt Higgins does not.
The popularity of professional sports gives sports writers a large forum in which to expound their views. Few are larger than ESPN, a network devoted entirely to sports. It is in this forum that Mr. Higgins demonstrated both his educational bias as well as his professional sloth. It would have taken one minute on Google with the words “homeschool” and “test scores” to locate an HSLDA’a article that states “In 1997, a study of 5,402 homeschool students from 1,657 families was released. It was entitled, "Strengths of Their Own: Home Schoolers Across America." The study demonstrated that homeschoolers, on the average, out-performed their counterparts in the public schools by 30 to 37 percentile points in all subjects.” Further research on the HSLDA website would have shown Mr. Higgins that his premise was incorrect. There is plenty of evidence that direct comparisons are not difficult o make. In those comparisons, homeschoolers come out on top.
So, what’s his beef?
There are parents of rising young stars who compete in surfing, skateboarding, BMX and motocross racing, and snowboarding, that are allowing their children to give up traditional public and private school education in order to spend more time in practice and competition. There are huge pay checks available to young professional athletes. These parents want to give their children the opportunity to grab the financial golden ring early in life. One manner of creating more time for their children to practice and compete is to homeschool their children. Mr. Higgins’ complaint is that he doesn’t believe that these young people are well educated. In his narrow analysis, the culprit must be homeschooling.
I don’t know. Mr. Higgins may be correct in his assertion that these particular athletes are not well educated. They might be as dumb as a box of rocks. Condemning homeschooling as the culprit is like condemning cars after a couple of people get into automobile accidents. The fault isn’t in homeschooling. The fault, if there is any to be assigned, lies with the parents and their level of commitment to the homeschooling lifestyle. Experienced homeschoolers know the dedication it takes to educate a child at home. The rise of poorly educated young athletes is not a cause to condemn the hard work of dedicated homeschoolers. That clarity of thought escaped Mr. Higgins. And that is the type of bias that homeschoolers face every day in this country.