THE HOME SCHOOLING MOVEMENT IN CENTRAL KENTUCKY
The purpose of this study was to determine the philosophical purpose, the curricular activities, the methods of evaluation, and the preference for public school services of the home schoolers of Central Kentucky. In Kentucky, the first step has been taken in the three part approval, cooperation, and monitoring process related to home education. The Kentucky State Constitution and the court case, “Kentucky State Board for
Elementary and Secondary Education vs. Rudasill” (1979), provided for the approval of home schools. Additional research in the home schooling movement is needed in order to lay the groundwork to complete the final two cycles, cooperation and monitoring, to ensure a complete and equivalent education for all of Kentucky’s children in the home schooling movement.
This study dealt with a nonrandom segment of the home schoolers in Central Kentucky who were residents of 12 counties. The questionnaire was only mailed to home schoolers registered with the State Department of Education and/or with the Director of Pupil Personnel Services in their respective counties. The return response to the mailed questionnaire was 60%; 32 home schools responded.
The research instrument was a three page questionnaire. The questions were compiled from topics suggested by the literature review. The questionnaire was divided into five sections: (1) General Information, (2) Purpose and Justification of the Home School, (3) Home School Activities, (4) Evaluation of Student Progress in the Home School, and (5) The Role of the Public School System with the Home School. In the second section, the subjects (parents) were asked to respond with their level of agreement to other home schoolers’ statements found in the literature regarding the public schools. The statements were
categorized as conservative, Christian fundamentalist home schooling statements or as liberal, anti-establishment home schooling statements. They were alternately assorted and no designation was made on the questionnaire as to the categories. The subject of the other four sections is fairly apparent from their titles. A panel of three experts was used to revise the questionnaire, and the panel approved the instrument for content validity.
The majority (23 of the 32 families involved in the study) of home schoolers in Kentucky do have a preference for the conservative, Christian fundamentalist home schooling movement. This preference may have its roots in the heritage of Kentucky which is rural and conservative in nature and located in the
center of the “Bible Belt.” The conservative, Christian home schoolers have an overriding theme that the public school is doing spiritual harm to their children; therefore, they seek a basic education for their children that is devoid of the socialization of the public school. The conservative, Christian fundamentalist home schoolers have math and reading as the foundation of their curriculum, although they also make provisions for Bible study and opportunities for the child to explore his area of interest on a regular basis. They visit the library about one half as much as the regular public school child, but they have six times as many field trips in a year as the public school child. They do socialize with other home schoolers and non-home schoolers on a regular basis; however, the nature of this socialization was not investigated. They utilize
observation and discussion in the evaluating process, but appear to prefer a more structured approach to evaluation by their utilization of correspondence courses. They are not interested in using public school educational materials or in having their children participate in the social activities of the school; however, they are interested in partaking of services in which they do not have the expertise but that the public school can supply.
The minority (9 of the 32 families involved in the study) of home schoolers in Central Kentucky have a preference for the liberal, anti-establishment home schooling movement. Their curriculum is more loosely constructed, having as its foundation the opportunity for the child to explore his own area of interest. In addition to this individualistic emphasis, the liberal, anti-establishment home schoolers teach the basics of math and reading and they provide numerous cultural and enrichment activities for their children. They have socialization with home schoolers and non-home schoolers; however, their social contact is greater than that of the conservative, Christian fundamentalist home schoolers. In the area of evaluation, the liberal, anti-establishment home schoolers, preferring more informal evaluative methods, utilize observation and discussion on a daily basis and they supplement this method with materials from educational stores. The liberal, anti-establishment home schoolers are interested in the utilization of public school materials and in their child participating in the social activities of the school. At the center of the liberal, anti-establishment home schoolers’ philosophy is the fear that the public school will do academic harm to their children.
Based on the data, it would appear that both the liberal, anti-establishment home schoolers and the conservative, Christian fundamentalist home schoolers provide a basic education for their children in the areas of reading and math. The areas of spelling, English, handwriting, social studies, health, creative
writing, music, and arts and crafts appear to be lacking in sufficient instructional time when compared to the state requirements for these subjects. The opportunities for the child to explore his area of interest and the provision for numerous field trips are applaudable within the home school system. The quantity of social contact appears to be adequate; however, the quality and the diversity of the social contact is in question as
this study did not deal with this aspect in depth. Evaluation appears to be taking place in the home school; however, more structured formal techniques may be needed in the liberal, anti-establishment home schools.
Further research is needed to explore the types of activities that are being conducted in the curricular areas and to investigate the depth of learning that is taking place in the home school. Further research is also needed in the area of social contact. The type and quality of social contact needs to
be explored, as well as does the long-term adaption of the home school child to the outside world as a result of his home school experiences and social contacts.
Editor’s Note: Pauletta Offutt Kutter is a doctoral student (Ed.D. in Administration and Instruction) at the University of Kentucky and an elementary school teacher in Shelbyville, Kentucky; 402 Greenview Drive, Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, 40342.
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