Homeschooling increased in Florida in 2014, with 7,000 students leaving public schools for home education programs, according to data published by the Florida Department of Education (FDOE).
The increase in homeschooled children marks a strong growth trend that has continued over a period of several years, with the increase in 2014 being the largest in at least a decade. The northern Florida regions of Duval County and Jacksonville have led the way, having the most homeschool students in the state.
According to FDOE’s website, “More than 60,000 students in approximately 42,000 families are in Home Education Programs throughout Florida.”
Karen Harmon, director of Home Education Resources and Information (HERI), says parents turning to homeschooling have expressed deep concerns about what they see as the poor quality of public schools. The Jacksonville-based HERI is one of the oldest support groups for home schools in Florida.
“I know that many parents are realizing that the public school system does not allow for their child to express their religious beliefs, nor does it allow for the child to be protected from things that contradict the parent’s or the child’s moral stance,” said Harmon.
Concerns About Public Curricula
Harmon says the quality of the curriculum is another important factor for parents who decide to homeschool their children.
“Another possible reason is that parents are beginning to understand what Common Core is, and they do not want their student to be taught to perform at an average level,” Harmon said. “The feeling is that with Florida State Standards being taught, we will lose the educational opportunity to develop engineers, doctors, scientists, and other professions that require higher-level thinking.”
The Florida State Standards are the state’s math and English standards for public schools, which were revised in 2014 but are not substantially different from Common Core standards.
Homeschooling parents appreciate being able to customize their children’s education, Harmon says.
“I would start with curriculum choice,” Harmon said. “The parent decides what materials they want to use, hopefully considering the style of learning that best suits their child. Another top benefit is the calendar. Our family schooled year-round, with six weeks on and two weeks off, and this kept our momentum up and our enthusiasm.
“It also allowed us to avoid the crowds on vacation because everyone else was in school,” Harmon added.
Jeffery Reynolds ([email protected]) writes from Portland, Oregon.
Image by Jimmie.
Denise Smith Amos, “Homeschooling Grows in Florida, Duval at Forefront,” The Florida Times-Union, July 26, 2015: http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2015-07-26/story/homeschooling-grows-florida-duval-forefront