Blog: The Educated Reporter

You Know Who Supports Homeschooling? District Administrators

Education Week’s annual “Quality Counts” project was published Thursday, and it’s loaded with data, story ideas and thought-provoking reporting on how school systems are responding to new demands for improvement and accountability.

“Quality Counts: Disruption & Revival,” is available online for free through the weekend. I was particularly interested to see that Clark County, Nev. (where I spent eight years on the education beat) was profiled for its efforts to overhaul its organizational model. Something else caught my attention, too: the strong support district administrators voiced for nontraditional educational programs. This support was strongest for virtual and online schools (74 percent), followed by 59 percent in favor of charter schools. That was just one percentage point higher than the 58 percent of district administrators who said they supported homeschooling as an educational alternative.

I want to focus on homeschooling for just a moment, because it’s an issue that typically gets less attention than charter schools or virtual schools. The Ed Week surveys finding is also consistent with the most recent PDK/Gallup Poll that I wrote about over the summer. In the 2013 poll, 80 percent of Americans said they would support allowing homeschooled children to participate in district extracurricular activities and sports. (I also took a look at the politics of homeschooling in 2012.)

I wonder if this is a story worth exploring for education reporters. What relationships, if any, are there among your local school districts and homeschooling families? When district officials voice support for homeschooling in a survey, what does that mean from a practical standpoint? Might traditional schools and homeschooled students both benefit from more communication - and a stronger bridge – between what have often been separate shores?