Special Report: Texas leads nation in homeschooling


POSTED: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 - 6:36pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, November 12, 2013 - 3:15pm

The number of homeschooled children in the U.S. has grown dramatically over the past four decades.

The numbers are even more telling for those children in the lone star state ... and even right here in East Texas. .

Tyler mom Kelly Hall homeschools all three of her children: 9-year-old Josh, 12-year-old Joey, and 17-year-old Katy.

The hall's are just one example of the more than 2 million students in the country who now go to school at home.

"I just think it fits the needs of people better," said Kelly Hall. "And people enjoy being with their family."

The increase may be for good reason.

The Texas Homeschool Coalition reports when it comes to testing, home school students score 30-35 points above national averages.

Hall believes part of that success comes from the freedom to choose how and when.

"Things that are good for good for one kid are not good for another kid," Hall said. "They are not cookie cutters."

Texas leads the nation in this growing trend, with more than 300,000 homeschooled students statewide.

It's a popular option for East Texans, too.  

The THSC estimates roughly 2,200 students are homeschooled here.

"I think a lot of curriculum our public schools choose is not what always promotes Christian or conservative values, and I think that has a lot to do with it," Hall said.

Many of those students come here to Calvary Baptist Church in Tyler.

The homeschool ministry here partners with East Texas families to not only offer classes outside of the house, but to also serve as a home base for extra curricular activities as well.

"We have families from Van, Mineola, Hawkins, Big Sandy, Henderson, Canton, Fruitvale, Jacksonville," Hall said.

Wendy Baker is the director of Venture at Calvary Baptist, one of the many co-op programs for homeschoolers in East Texas.

Through co-ops, parents can pay for students to take certain classes they might not be comfortable teaching at home.

A typical Wednesday night at the church is a haven of sorts for homeschooled families.

"We're trying to unite the homeschool community so one day a week, they have a place they can go that's beyond what we can provide at home," Baker said.

The span of classes available is vast ... from computer robotics, to choir, sports and everything in between.

Bill Beggs and his wife Gina homeschool all seven of their children.

When his boys grew out of pee wee athletics, he started the Tyler HEAT, a Christian sports program specifically designed for homeschooled East Texans.

"It gives them the opportunity to participate in a competitive team sport where they get the experience of working with someone," Beggs said.

It's one of the many local outlets Beggs says, that helps homeschoolers socialize, interact and thrive just like any regular kid.

Which brings us to one misconception you might say these families want to set straight.

"A lot of people think that homeschoolers are lazy, and we just stay home in our pajamas all day or we don't have friends," said Katy Hall.

"My kids ... I have a hard time staying home," Kelly Hall said.

Comments News Comments

I love how people think that just because we don't say prayers and have chapel in public ed that we are promoting sinful behavior. Teachers find ways to teach character education with their students. I, myself, went to parochial school far longer than public. I chose not to send my own children to parochial school because of what I saw. The only difference is that a parochial school can expel a non-conforming student while a public school has to try to "fix" them.

Liberals took over public education and threw God out of the classroom. Tolerance is what we have exercised for decades as we've watched the slow deterioration of our great country into the marxist socialist state of today. No I'm not going to send my children off to be exposed to gangbangers and sexually predatory educators in the "public system". You go right ahead and spew your vile condemnations every time we exercise ou right to educate our own. Our proof sir, is in our little puddings!

It sounds like you would prefer to send your child to a private religious school or to homeschool your children. I'd rather instruct my children in religion than have a teacher do it. In my opinion, the people who scream loudest about religion being out of the schools are the ones who don't bother to get their butts out of bed on Sunday mornings to get to church. I would rather my children go to school to learn academics and teach them religion myself.

Truth is, I think we should keep the big pic in mind instead of clouded personal opinion. Here's why:PUBLIC SCHOOL IS'T GOING AWAY.They are the only option for many parents.If #s are down and funding low; they can't get good teachers, supplies, etc., and the next generation will be a burden on prev generations (geesh)! We will never all agree; I'd like to see a bridge btwn homeschl and publ school-ie:innovation academy w/ curriculum made by a Nat/St/County teacher's assoc under basic gov guide

It's been interesting seeing the personal way in which some have commented. Bottom line, I pay for my children to attend a private Christian school as our local school has deteriorated to a less than desirable leadership roll. I do feel for them though. They have had their authority stripped away one layer at a time and yet they continue to have to deal with some of the most troubled children in our society. Home schooling is a great alternative and I have seen very positive results.

There are horror & success stories in all options. It seems the most successful kids have had the benefit of very involved parents in either option. BTW, HOMESCHOOLING DOES NOT MAKE YOU A GOOD PARENT! Sometimes I think it's parental peer pressure. Like if you homeschool, you can be in the cool club at church. I like the UT Tyler's innovation academy(www.uttia.org/) the best. I'd like to see public schools move toward that program. And add personal finance & more geography.

Oh my word. Who is "tonks" and what qualifies HIM to have any opinion? Does HE even have kids? I have 3 kids who have been public schooled, private schooled, and homeschooled. I don't know of ONE lazy homeschooler; in fact, every homeschooled kid I know is a BRILLIANT overachiever, many of them earning their own living by the time they're 18. How 'bout if you push away from the computer and find something USEFUL to contribute to society with that valuable public school education, Mr. Tonks.

It's called Freedom of Speech. That's what gives me the right. You've got it and I've got it. If you would like to live in a country without it, try the Middle East. I'm glad to hear you know several industrious homeschoolers. I also know a few. I also know many that are extremely lazy. I don't know any homeschooled children that can support themselves by the age of 18. This is not a cheerleading forum for homeschoolers; it's a discussion. Insults/ ad hominem attacks are not arguments.

Tonks has many arguments against homeschooling. Many parents pull their children because the school is not serving their children well. These reasons have been personally recounted to me by parents: 1) bullying (repeated physical assaults--punching and spitting--on classmates and teacher) that the school admin would not address, 2) teachers that disparaged and berated the class, and 3) a district that systematically refuses to provide disability services in spite of state law. (next post)

It's a shame they felt they had no recourse and that their children missed educational opportunities.
Regarding the lack of federally-mandated disability services, that's lawsuit territory.

I think Thomas Edison was considered a failure/idiot in the public school system. So his mother took him out of the school system and home schooled him.
I believe home schooling is a much better way to educate children.

Thomas Edison is an interesting historical figure. I can see him not adapting well to a classroom
situation. He probably just wanted to fiddle with his experiments. Have you ever the video of him electrocuting the elephant at Coney Island ?

Mostly reporters talk to folks that are in the midst of homeschooling right now. I homeschooled our three sons 30 years ago when the movement was just beginning. They are grown, married, and happy with their lives - according to them, happier than most of their contemporaries. Our youngest son marvels at the lack of common sense among his peers. What I see is that these men continue to pursue knowledge, and, more importantly, know how to pursue it!

I'm glad it worked out so well for you. You and your family were indeed pioneers. I find it interesting that the one son claims to be happier than his peers and purports to have more common sense than his peers. He certainly seems to be confident,

Think back to your school class: how many children "failed?" Some of these children may in fact have become successful adults, but they "failed" in "schoolwork." Maybe they weren't developmentally ready for the lessons. Maybe they had learning disabilities. Maybe they were gifted and bored to stupor. Homeschooling offers flexibility so that each child can reach his/her potential, from the gifted to the challenged. Education shouldn't be a weed-out program.

Tonks, I am interested to know exactly what your agenda might be. You are certainly vocal, and clearly opposed to homeschooling, however you do not bother to cite one single source to support your statements. That, in itself, is enough to dismiss your discussion as being a diatribe for your self agenda. You have contributed little to no useful data regarding the realities of homeschooling. Rather, you have put forth your personal opinion, and put down any parents who chooses to home school.

I don't have an "agenda" other than refuting pro-homeschool propaganda put forth on this discussion page. I'm hard on homeschooling parents because I think very few succeed at it; too many parents pull their kids out of school because they can't or won't get their kids to school on time. There are some parents who are great at homeschooling; they put a lot of effort into it and it works very well for the family. I think these families are probably the exception.

I don't have an "agenda" other than refuting pro-homeschool propaganda put forth on this discussion page. I'm hard on homeschooling parents because I think very few succeed at it; too many parents pull their kids out of school because they can't or won't get their kids to school on time. There are some parents who are great at homeschooling; they put a lot of effort into it and it works very well for the family. I think these families are probably the exception.

No, it's not. The Columbine shooters went to public school so by your reasoning...we should close down all public schools because they produce killers?

I was responding to the argument, put forth by homeschooling advocates on this page, that public school are full of violence. My point is that there is violence in homeschooling situations; either by the parent or the homeschooled student.

The success of any child and their education rests on the support they're given. Many children do well whether it's a public education or a private one. BUT, not all children have a guardian who cares, therefore neither option is viable. So for the children who do well in "homeschool" that's great, but not all parents are good parents.

I know a few families that are "homeschooling" their children. The latter of the two hasn't provided education to her daughter at all this school year. The mother withdrew her daughter from Whitehouse school under the pretense of home schooling VIA Texas Virtual Academy and has yet to even enroll her. This isn't about what's best for this child, but about the mother being able to lay up all day and out all night. Unfortunately, this child will be another casualty on our entitlement nation.

"this child will be another casualty..."

So will all the kids who are failed by the public education system.

I'm not sure why you bring this up here....This isn't an article about neglect. It's an article about homeschooling...which according to you is not occuring in the situation you are describing. As a former foster parent and adoptive mother to a child from the foster care system, I completely agree that what you are describing is wrong, but again, until you research the test scores and personally know more than one "homeschooler" you are just unaware of the realities of actual home education.

I think you are unaware of the realities of home education. You are relying on studies supported by the HSLDA which are notoriously flawed. You need to apply some critical thinking skills to these studies. Everyone in your homeschool coop might be outstanding educators, and I'm sure in their minds they are. Shopping at Target for an "economics" lesson or touring a glass making factory might be great for stay at home parents, but they have little educational value for the kids.

Tonks, you are implying that the parents in her co-op think they are giving their kids a great education by doing daily things (shopping) and doing field trips. Amazing how YOU know what these parents are doing AND thinking and just how well they are educating their kids. Why don't you go criticize and "fix" some of the truly wretched public school classrooms first, the same ones who--wait for it--consider school stores and field trips to be part of a well-rounded educational experience.

Field trips can be stimulating and very educational. Trips to Target and the glass-blowing factory, however, have limited educational value. My information is based on numerous anecdotal recounts of adventures in homeschooling. Many homeschooling parents enjoy discussing their curriculum and schedules. Further, this is not an article about public schools; it is an article about homeschooling and its rise in popularity.

For every successful, dedicated homeschooling parent,and there are a few, there are 50 that "homeschool" because they cannot or will not meet a school's attendance policy. They can't get the kids to school on time or at all so they "homeschool". There curriculum consists of "ya'll go outside and play" and the occasional worksheet printed off the internet. Yoy are fooling yourself if you think homeschool is the answer, or if you think most folks are successful at it.

Tonks, none of us said that homeschooling was THE answer. It is one of many. There simply are not statistics to show how many homeschooling parents are doing well in educating their students and how many are not. (Cite it please, if you can prove what you said: that for every one dedicated homeschooler there are fifty who are not.) We do know that for every 50 students who are above average in public education, there are another 50 who are not. ; )

Having been in education for a number of years, perhaps I can offer some insight. (My wife is an educater too) I am sure that some parents "Home Scool" their children with much success. However, much too often (Typically), we get the results of home schooling dumped back into the school system. Most times these children are way behind in their studies, and we, as educators, are required to do the fixing, with children that are hopelessly behind. Then the shool may suffer in standardised testing.

Rattatooey, ever heard of self-selection? "Much too often...typically" are your descriptors for the # of homeschoolers coming back to public school. Did it ever occur to you that the ones you see are the exceptions in which homeschooling did NOT work for the family? The many who do well would *never* make it onto your radar; we rarely darken a school door. I have "average" homeschool kids who were certainly on colleges' radar, or they wouldn't all be putting $$ behind their welcome mats.

Good luck to them in college.

As a home-school K-12 graduating UT Tyler with a 3.9 GPA I think I was prepared quite adequately. In fact, college classes were easy compared to my experiences at home. Public education focuses on preparing kids to take standardized tests, homeschooling, for me at least focused on developing an educated mind. I know several of the students featured in this television piece and I can assure you that they are all incredibly brilliant young people who stand head and shoulders above the pack.

If you were homeschooled, then you don't really know what public school teaches. The statement that "all public school teaches you is to take standardized tests" is not particuarly accurate. I'm glad that you feel that you were prepared for college. A common complaint I've heard homeschooled students express is that there were some areas in which they felt shortchanged. Many had trouble completing tasks within a certain amount of time. Among other things. It sounds like you will do just fine.

Tonks, your attitude is ever so foolish. You don't like home schooling. We understand. just as you feel there are failed homeschooling examples, there are scores more in the public schools. I bet gangs don't run rampant through homeschool hallways. When the kids do get out of control, the "teachers and administration" have the "parents" complete support in the discipline of the children whereas in public schools, parents circumvent discipline. The parents have the fortitude others lack.

I'm sure the superintendent at Sandy Hook ISD would look to discuss how home-schooled student Adam Lanza shot his way into the school and killed a bunch of five year olds. Adam's mom decided to home-school him because the school district wanted Adam to see a psychologist. His mommy thought they were being meanies to her special snowflake. Her homeschool curriculum consisted of shooting lessons and unlimited violent video-game playing. We could ask her about it, but alas, he killed her first.

They are probably sought after as pages by tea party representatives, because they know how obedient they are and are really good at fetching things. That's something to be proud of.

Maybe Andrea Yates, another famed homicidal homeschooler, would be available for an interview to discuss her curriculum and homeschooling methods. I'm sure she has lots of great advice for homeschooling parents.

My daughter is homeschooled and she scored the second highest score on her sats in the district. So people need to get facts straight before putting it down.y son is home schooled because he has bipolar and the schooled couldn't handle him. So I had no choice. My daughter missed 27 days and made the highest score on her sats, but because of the 27 days they took her credits and said she had to repeat the 9th grade. It's all about the money not wether our children are getting a education.

Bravo, Butterfly03! Public school DOES seem to be about the money in many school districts all across the country. And altogether too many people chime in on this issue because of a predilection to statist ideology without realizing that state-controlled schooling is one of the pivotal planks in the Communist Manifesto. Those parents who submit their children to the brainwashing of federally-mandated philosophy without question will, in turn, see them one day become "good communists".

This ranks right up there with the moon landing conspiracy theory, evil flouride in the water conspiracy, and basically every kook theory you can find in the forwarded-emails from people with too much time on their hands. Which is to say it's fairly meaningless. It's clear to me that you have not stepped foot in a public school classroom in 50 years, if ever. Turn off fox news, get in your car, and drive north of the loop sometime.

PS Homeschooled kids always beat the ACT/SAT exam scores. Google it, Mr.Skeptical
They are sought after as Congressional pages ETC>

I know many parents who are certified teachers who are horrified at the values, comportment & lack of discipline in the Public School' sothey homeschool for that reason alone!!

But me.
All I would have to see is a 3rd grade COMPULSORY book "Heather Has 2 Mommys" promoting lesbianism as OK or a lack of programs for exceptional students along with any student armed who is dealt with in a blase way.

..I would be gone.

The "Texas Homeschool Coalition " is not exactly an objective source of information.

Homeschooled students usually perform poorly on any kind of math test, and they have trouble completing projects or tests within a certain amount of time. This is because their parents are not able to teach them math, and because every assessment is untimed.

Part 2 of my "math teacher" story. After I asked about correcting and grading so many sets of math homework, she said that she didn't assign homework. She assigned 10 problems in class, and if a student held up their paper in class with 3 completed problems, they did not have to do the rest at home. She then went on to bemoan how students came to her so unprepared from earlier grades, and none were going on to do well in high maths. Anyone else find this ironic, given where she started?

Tonks, you are the motherlode of baseless comments. Re. homeschoolers and math tests: citation for proof of this please?

Two-part true story that I will continue in the next post, due to character limits:

Part 1: I once met a high school math teacher. She told me homeschoolers stunk at math. I ignored her comment, and because I was swamped correcting and grading three math problem sets on a daily basis, I asked her about her experience grading so many sets of homework (160 students/day.)

We originally started in private Christian schools K4-2nd grade of my oldest son's schooling. He started on August 20, actually turning the age of 4 August 31. The school used Abeka which is an advanced curriculum. He was advanced in his reading so was put in an advanced reading class in K5. They did cursive, spelling, creative writing, etc. in K5 & Abeka also has timed math drills, every day or it used to! Don't judge all by few!!! We use different curriculum, there are many!

And the fact that America is like 23rd in the World in math scores is evidence that our public school system and union teachers are doing SUCH A GREAT JOB.
Next straw man?

Public ed curriculum doesn't promote Christian or conservative values? It's not supposed to. What happened to the concept of separation of church and state?
How many of the parents are certified, trained teachers? I am going to guess that very few of them are certified to teach. Teaching others' kids has got to be hard, but teaching your own - doubly hard.
And these kids are scoring above nat'l avg on ACT, SAT exams? I am struggling to accept that as fact.
Sorry - consider me skeptical.

So your struggle to accept = enough to form your opinion?

How scientific.

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