Family Forum / By Elizabeth Scruggs: As debates rage across the political landscape on how to best reform American education practices, unpopular mandates, and appointments made, a growing body of parents are looking for other options to provide a flexible, customizable, and high quality education for their children.
Liz Scruggs conducts “Freedom Academy” which includes formal education (Math, Science, History, Language, Reading and Writing etc.) for her three children from 9-12. After lunch they take their learning outside for exploring, field trips, sports, and volunteer activities. / PHOTO BY MAJOR ANDREW SCRUGGS
Parents are demanding more from an archaic institution, which is not designed to pivot quickly or best prepare young minds for our future world and economy.
Today, charter, private, independent, co-ops, tutoring, and home learning environments may be the fastest growing forms of education in the United States and are currently bordering mainstream. According to the National Home Education Research Institute, about 2.3 million children in America receive a home education, and it appears to continue increasing at an estimated two to eight percent per year.
Home education presents an attractive option for military families who on an average move six to nine times during the K-12 years of a military child and whose education can become disrupted and inconsistent during these formative years. Multiple moves to different school districts, while trying to navigate multiple systems, regulations, and policies can become daunting, and provides a global lens on the complicated challenges for seeking a high-quality education.
The Interstate Compact on Education Opportunity for Military Children was designed to address educational transition issues experienced by these families, but does not necessarily improve the quality of education or address home education. In an effort to combat inconsistent academic standards across multiple states and countries, military families are turning to home education as their solution.
There are vast and easily accessible home education opportunities with challenges not stopping at K-12, but continuing into college preparation and career preparation too. This makes a great case study as military families are resilient and adaptable, and when it comes to education, there is no exception.
Do the Research
If you are a military family interested in home education be sure to do your research, especially if you are new to this, because it could be overwhelming. Each state has different requirements and regulations for home-educated children, and a great place to begin is the Home School Legal Defense Association www.hslda.org. Laws by state with answers regarding your rights can be found here.
Next, look to see if there is a home-school education association in your state. For example, in Virginia there is
Home Educators Association of Virginia https://heav.org. At this site you can connect with other homeschooling families to get local information as well as support. Most states, to include OCONUS locations, have Home Educators Associations as well.
While there has been an effort by many organizations to address the educational challenges experienced by military families, it is currently not enough. To overhaul a state run educational system can take years, even decades. Military families do not have that kind of time or continuity in one place long enough to solve those problems. Many families are now finding home education an attractive option as the debate on American education reform continues. While home education may not be for everyone, families who start are seeing the benefits and can never imagine why they would educate their children in any other way.
In the future, military families who are part of home education communities and programs must have a seat at the education reform table. This will include conversations and partnerships with military family support organizations; i.e., Military Child Education Coalition, Military Families for High Standards, Dept. of Education, Dept. of Defense Education Activity, Child Youth and School Services, and any additional military support entities who are willing to listen and provide support to the rapidly growing home schooling military community.
We are able, willing, ready, and motivated to move the education conversation forward.