I first became interested in homeschooling as an education option for families as an undergraduate, but it wasn't until graduate school that I began to see homeschooling's greater implications in terms of education choice.
As I was reading the current issue of Ed. Magazine, the alumni publication of the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), I thought back to my time there over a decade ago. I concentrated in the school's "administration, planning and social policy" division, where I grew increasingly alarmed at the lack of education choice for many families. It seemed that a district school was the only option for the majority of families, and I became very interested in ways to expand family choice, researching education policy and ideas such as charter school expansion and vouchers. I also saw homeschooling as a component of education choice for families, particularly as its numbers were swelling and community support structures were being established by and for homeschooling families.
It wasn't until I had my own children years later, and confronted their education options, that I realized homeschooling would be the best fit for our family. As theory became practice, as research became application, I felt fortunate to be able to choose homeschooling as a natural extension of our parenting philosophy and appreciation for child-led, self-directed learning.
While much has been done to introduce the idea of education choice over the past 10 years, there is still much to act on. Charter school numbers are growing, but demand still exceeds supply. Vouchers are such a hot political target that efforts to introduce them often stall. As EducationNext editor, Paul Peterson, writes in his book, Saving Schools: From Horace Mann to Virtual Learning: "For all the talk about charters and vouchers, it is homeschooling that is the fastest-growing alternative to the country's district schools."
Families continue to want and expect options for their children's education, and as they do, I hope, more choice will be available to them. As Peterson writes: "...education is now being thought of as something that must be customized to the needs and wants of families and individuals. That families should have a choice of schools is no longer just the ideology of an isolated fringe; it is now broadly accepted as a legitimate claim, despite the disputes over the form it should take."
I feel glad to now be an active participant in the education choice movement, selecting the education option that is best for my family, rather than just an academic onlooker.