N A T I O N A L C E N T E R R E P O R T S
The National Center for Home Education welcomes new director
Home School Legal Defense Association welcomes attorney Tom Washburne as our new director of the National Center for Home Education. Tom replaces Doug Domenech, who recently joined the U.S. Department of the Interior as part of President George W. Bush's administration.
"Tom Washburne is a great addition to HSLDA. His wealth of experience and knowledge in legislative and legal arenas will strengthen our efforts to protect home school freedoms on Capitol Hill," said HSLDA President Mike Smith.
After completing his Bachelor of Science in Engineering at Purdue University, Tom received his Juris Doctorate from Indiana University School of Law. He is licensed to practice law in Indiana. From 1990-1993, he clerked for Judge Dillin of the United States District Court in Indianapolis, and then worked for a general practice law firm. Most recently, Tom served as chief of staff for Congressman John Hostettler (8th IN-R) on Capitol Hill.
"I am excited with the new challenges I face in my job as executive director of the National Center, and I am thrilled with the opportunity to work on behalf of home schooling families," Tom said.
Tom and his wife Lynne have five children, ages 5 months to 10 years, whom they have home schooled from the beginning. The Washburnes live in Lovettsville, Virginia, on a small farm with 36 sheep, eight cats, two dogs, and one horse.
Bills before education conference committee
President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" education plan focuses on fundamental reforms in education-specifically in state accountability, local control, and increased parental options. Although both chambers of Congress passed their own versions of Bush's plan earlier this summer, House Resolution 1 and Senate bill 1 differed in several key amendments (see Freedom Watch in the Sept./Oct. 2001 Court Report). On July 19, the Education Conference Committee met for the first time to reconcile these two bills to modify the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) for 2001.
HSLDA staff lobbied committee members and sent several e-lerts, encouraging our member families to contact the senators and representatives on the committee. As our members reported the response they received from each office, we tallied the contacts. Most committee member offices received more than a dozen letters from HSLDA members, with Senator John Warner from Virginia receiving over 60.
Working through Congress's August recess, Education Conference Committee staffers prepared the bill for an anticipated vote after Labor Day.
"Several elements in the House bill are vital to home schooling families: freedom for home schoolers from mandatory testing and the option for states to choose a testing alternative to NAEP. We don't want to lose these provisions," said National Center for Home Education Manager of Federal Policy and Research Caleb Kershner. "Without these protections, bureaucrats could wrongfully subject home schoolers to federal control."
NCES releases statistics on home schooling
The National Center for Education Statistics released its 1999 report on home schooling on August 3, 2001. Homeschooling in the United States: 1999 contains information on the characteristics of home schooled students and their families and the reasons parents decide to home school. This report was part of The Parent Survey of the National Household Education Surveys Program and can be downloaded at: http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2001033.
The study found that:The household income of home schooling families did not differ from that of other families.
Home schooling parents were educated, on average, at a higher level than were other parents. Twenty-five percent held bachelor's degrees, compared to 16.3% of non-home schooling parents, and 25.3% of home schooling parents have graduate degrees, compared to 16.7% of other parents.
Twenty-five percent of home schooling families are minorities: 9.9% are black, 9.1% are Hispanic, and 5.8% are "other."
On the average, home schooling families have more children: 61.6% have three or more children, while 43.7% of all families have three or more children.
A large majority-80.4%-of home schooling families have two parents, compared to 65.5% of all households.
The study estimates that only 850,000 children in the U.S. are home schooled, or about 1.7% of all school-aged children. This figure is based on the percentage of survey respondents who identified themselves as home schoolers: 275 home schoolers to 16,833 non-home schoolers.
HSLDA believes this last estimate is far too low for two main reasons. First, many home schoolers are hesitant to fill out government surveys-these parents have fought so hard to establish their right to teach their children free from government control that they are often cautious about giving the government any information that they feel could lead to a restriction of this right. HSLDA has received dozens of calls from members concerned about this survey, inquiring whether or not it was mandatory. Since it was not mandatory, many home schooling families who received this survey simply did not respond. Second, in a number of states, many home schools are considered private schools under their state law and, as a result, may have identified themselves as private schools instead of home schools.
Although the NCES survey does not address academic achievement and may be self-limiting because of some home schoolers' averseness to government-sponsored research, it does provide useful demographic information that may help researchers and legislators better understand home schoolers.
For research on home schoolers' academic achievement, see Home Schooling Works by Dr. Lawrence M. Rudner, Director of the ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation, at http://www.hslda.org/docs/study/rudner1999/ and Home Education Across America by Dr. Brian D. Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute, at http://www.hslda.org/docs/study/ray1997/.