Recent data released by the Florida State Department of Education indicates that the growth rate of home education programs has now exceeded the growth rate of enrollment in public schools in the state.
According to the most recent report by the department, “In the last five years, the total number of students participating in home education programs has increased by more than 14,487 (23%) over the 62,567 students reported in 2009-10.” Presently, there are 77,054 students being home schooled in Florida—1.7% more than last year. Public schools saw only a 1% increase.
Controversy in the Florida Department of Education is nothing new as the state has been divided since Jeb Bush began grading schools “A” through “F” based on standardized test scores. But now, the debate has evolved and Common Core has taken a greater focus. Many movements are pushing to stop Common Core in Florida, as some groups are launching campaigns through social media such as Moms against Common Core, and some stage more strategic and political efforts, such as the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition.
As reported by the Washington Post, one Florida family recently posted a blog entry entitled, Why I Can’t ‘in Good Conscience’ Leave My Kids in Public School, which outlined their concerns regarding Common Core-like standards, 14 hours of tests and under-paid teachers.
However, not all parents share the same concerns that motivate their educational decision to withdraw from or avoid public education. Carmen Blackmore, president of Gulf Coast Christian Home Educators Association, (GCCHEA) told Christian News Network this week that there are many reasons why many Florida parents are opting out of a free, public school education and assuming the burdens both economically and logistically to home educate.
“The reasons for homeschooling are so incredibly varied,” Blackmore said. “Military families, religious convictions, school violence, bullying concerns, and the overall convenience” makes homeschooling an appealing option for many families.
For many parents, the decision was not reactionary, but a pro-active plan, she stated. Currently, the GCCHEA has 150 families and approximately 350 students.
Blackmore also explained that another reason families are comfortable homeschooling is because the businesses in Florida are homeschool-friendly. Companies like AC Moore, the local bowling alleys and public libraries offer support through sponsored homeschool activities. Virtual programs and online support offer another educational outlet for home-schooled students.
Another motivation for home education is the resurgence of classical education. “Classical Conversations” is a classically-based home education community that provides tutors for parent and student, a curriculum and one day a week of group instruction so parents can observe and replicate the methods at home. According to Blackmore, these classical options are “growing in almost every city in Florida.”
As homeschooling directs the latest education trends, more Florida parents are no longer looking for the best school district, but rather, the best program for their child’s education.