West Virginia School Board President to Start Homeschooling Children

Published February 9, 2016

During a regular meeting of the school board in Tyler County, West Virginia, board President Bonnie Henthorn announced she was withdrawing her children from the government-operated school system so she could homeschool them.

Board members are calling on Henthorn to resign, but she is resisting calls to do so.

Stephanie Butcher, a board member of the West Virginia Home Educators Association, says Henthorn’s decision to start homeschooling makes sense.

“[Henthorn] is a citizen, so she has a vested interest in providing the best possible education in a safe environment for the youngsters in her community,” Butcher said. “Besides, there are many school board members across the state and country without children in public schools.”

Increasing Popularity

Butcher says there are a variety of reasons many parents choose to educate their children, rather than leaving it to the government.

“I would say about 10 percent, at most, homeschool for religious reasons, but about half of homeschooling families include religious instruction as part of their regular school day,” Butcher said. “At least half of all homeschooling families have opted out of the public school system because of the quality of education at their local schools, and the remaining 40 percent do so for other reasons.”

Mike Donnelly, director of global outreach for the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), says the popularity of homeschooling is growing among American parents.

“There are over two million homeschooled children today, and that number could balloon to almost 10 million in the next 20 years,” Donnelly said. “Homeschooling works because it delivers high amounts of the key factors in [quality] educational attainment, such as high levels of academic engagement in a one-on-one instructional environment that is tailored to individual student needs driven by parental involvement in a safe and nurturing environment.”

More Acceptance in the Statehouse

Homeschooling is gaining greater acceptance among lawmakers, Donnelley said.

“HSLDA and the homeschool community have been successful in advocating for the idea that homeschooling is a good educational approach [that is] good for children, and this has been mostly accepted by policymakers,” Donnelly said. “Legislatures are revisiting their laws, drafted decades ago, that were suspicious of home education. In the last 10 years, over a dozen states have reformed their laws to make homeschooling compliance simpler.”

Tony Corvo ([email protected]) writes from Beavercreek, Ohio.