NEPC Review: Homeschooling and Educational Freedom (Cato Institute, September 2019)
Homeschooling and Educational Freedom, a report from the Cato Institute, argues that homeschoolers should support school choice proposals because greater educational freedom empowers parents to provide richer learning opportunities for their children. Drawing on four states with expansive education choice programs, the report’s rationale is grounded on a purported chain of causation from robust school choice policies to homeschooling growth to educational innovation. These causal contentions are purely speculative and are not borne out by the broader state-level data. In fact, at least half of all states lack reliable data. Among states with data, some that do show dramatic homeschooling growth have regulatory environments more favorable to school choice, but enough counterexamples exist to make even simple conclusions uncertain. While these problems compromise the usefulness of this new report, nothing here should be read to question the report’s contention that homeschooling is a context in which educational innovation can indeed flourish. Such innovations are not the sole province of homeschoolers, since we find compelling examples in all sectors of schooling. But the flexibility of homeschooling provides ample room for learning experiences that can meet the needs of individual students. With modest state oversight to protect children’s basic educational interests while preserving freedom for parents and their delegates to tailor the learning experience, homeschooling serves as one potentially effective option for a good education.