- Fear resulting from recent violence in
public schools is sparking interest in home schooling across the United
- While national media figures and government
officials pine for more gun control and limiting Internet access, many
parents are quietly taking actions on their own. It is too soon after recent
school shooting incidents in Littleton, Colo., and Conyers, Ga., to measure
statistically whether parents are adopting alternative methods to educate
their children, but evidence indicates that many parents are at least considering
teaching their children at home next year.
- Phone call inquiries to various state
home school associations throughout the country have jumped since the Columbine
High School shootings April 20, with some parents panic-stricken in their
search to find other educational options for their children.
- "One father called us and said he
couldn't do his job because he was worried about his kids," said Mary
Jo Patterson, director of the <http://www.ghea.orgGeorgia Home Education
Association. "Parents, after they've put them in school, think their
kids are in some kind of jeopardy."
- She added that there are many high school
students who are calling who don't want to go back to school.
- There is some consensus among home schooling
advocates that the Columbine incident has caused a greater rise in interest
than any other recent school shooting occurrence.
- "This thing has got parents in a
panic," said Joe Adams, a co-director of the <http://www.chek.orgChristian
Home Educators of Kentucky.
- "We had a surge (of calls) after
Paducah," said Adams, referring to the December 1997 school shooting
in West Paducah, Ky. "But not as big as Littleton -- Littleton caused
- Adams said he is receiving four or five
e-mails daily from parents who want to remove their children from public
- The < http://www.hslda.orgHome School
Legal Defense Association reports they are also fielding a lot more questions
from concerned parents since the Littleton incident. Many are saying it's
"the straw that broke the camel's back," according to President
- Some state home school organizations
are also seeing large increases in attendance at conventions this year,
which are traditionally held in the spring.
- Patterson said that about 2,000 people
normally attend the Georgia home school convention, but this year over
3,000 came. The event was held on April 23 and 24, only days after the
shootings in Littleton.
- Likewise, Adams is anticipating a 25
percent increase in attendance over last year for Kentucky's convention
- The sense of urgency has also hit ground
zero in Denver, where the < http://www.chec.orgChristian Home Educators
of Colorado have been swarmed with inquiries. Calls have increased fivefold,
from about 60 a month to over 300.
- CHEC holds monthly workshops that explain
home schooling laws, curriculums and philosophies to curious parents. Participation
grew from 15 in February to 45 in May, and registration exploded to 500
for June's session.
- "People are looking for solutions
-- not just bulletproof vests," said Kevin Swanson, Executive Director
- Parents seeking advice about home schooling
from advocacy organizations are getting a consistent message: "Go
for it." However, the message also contains a caveat: "Be prepared."
- Farris wrote in a May 4 commentary for
the Washington Times that "people should not choose to home school
out of a momentary panic resulting from watching the news about Colorado.
You won't have the self-discipline to succeed if that is your sole motivation."
- In an interview with WorldNetDaily Farris
added that HSLDA is "trying to give parents a realistic assessment
of what it takes to home school. You won't have the 'stick-to-itness' that
it requires if the sole motivation is fear."
- Some organizations are inviting parents
to test the home schooling waters in measured ways. Swanson said that he
is encouraging those who are unsure to try home schooling for one year.
Patterson suggests that students try out a correspondence school, because
"it feels more like what they're used to."
- Vicki Brady, who co-hosts the syndicated
radio call-in show Home Schooling USA with her husband Terry, says parents
should home school regardless of their motivation.
- "We started home schooling because
there was nothing else to do," she said. The Bradys had received several
discouraging assessments of their learning-disabled child, so they seized
the opportunity to home educate. The child now excels, according to Mrs.
- "(Families) may try it for a year
and say, 'Why didn't I do this before?" said Mrs. Brady. "Or,
they might feel more comfortable putting them back (in public school) after
a year. But taking them out for a year is not going to hurt them."
- William Lloyd of the <http://www.nheri.org
National Home Education Research Institute said that safety is only cited
as fifth in importance by parents as a reason to home school. He did say
that if a family has been thinking about home schooling their children,
incidents like Columbine could be the deciding factor.
- "Once people see that home schooling
is viable, (Columbine) might push them," he said.
- Sherry Ferguson is one parent who did
remove her daughter from public school. Brandy, age 15, attended Bear Creek
High School in Lakewood, Colo., only minutes away from Columbine High School.
Brandy has been learning at home for the last two weeks of the school year.
- Ferguson is still in the decision process
about Brandy's education next year, but she is very interested in home
schooling and is trying to arrange a curriculum fair for area families
to learn more about it. "The more information I get, the better I'll
be able to make a decision about it," she said.
- But she already sees a change in her
daughter since she's been doing her schoolwork at home.
- "I've never seen her so excited
about book stores."
- Ferguson said she had "blind faith"
in the school system, and never considered home schooling until Columbine.
- "It took something this tragic to
make me look at it."