The headline of an article from Arkansas blames homeschooling, in part, for a drop in school enrollment.
- SiftingsHerald.com, Arkadelphia, Arkansas, 28 July 2005 Lack of jobs, home schooling blamed for drop in Arkadelphia’s school enrollment
The body of the article begins with the report that the Arkadelphia School District Superintendent traces the decline in school enrollment by 39 students to a loss of local industry.
- “Prothro attributes part of the loss in student enrollment to the loss of industry in the area. Districts in other parts of the state are also seeing the effects of a slow economy. Many of the other districts have lost more students than Arkadelphia. “It’s directly related,” he said. “It’s all tied to jobs.”
“It’s all tied to jobs.” That seems to be a clear statement, and we understand that the superintendent thinks that the student loss is all tied to jobs. But instead of writing about which jobs have been lost to the local economy, and steps local government can take to bring industry to the area, the author of the article segues to homeschooling and reports that 60 homeschooling applications have been received for the year.
- “Another factor that can be related to the loss in student enrollment is the number of students being home-schooled. The district received 60 applications during the 2004-2005 school year from parents who wanted to home school their children, and that number is low compared to state averages.”
(And how many are in private school? Are those numbers high or low? Isn’t that also relevant to public school enrollment numbers?)
The inclusion of the number of homeschooling applications received for the year implies that the parents of those 39 missing students will be among the 60 who submitted applications. But this is at odds with a statistic provided by the article itself:
- “According to records obtained from the school district, home schooling became popular in the early 1990s and peaked in 2001 with 70 students applying for home school status. The number has remained around 60 each year since that time.”
The applications probably are not from 60 new families each year as, according to the article, Arkansas requires yearly notification. It wouldn’t be out of line to assume that there are a goodly number of ‘repeats’ from year to year:
- “They do have to notify the school district of their intent to home school prior to the beginning of each school year.”
If 60 applications were received for the 2004 – 2005 school year, and if the number of applications has been “around 60 each year” since the early 1990s, how can homeschooling be ‘blamed’ for the loss of 39 students? The homeschooling ‘number’ is static, therefore it isn’t a factor. Homeschooling should not have been included in this search for who to ‘blame’ any more than was private schooling.
In considering what did happen to the missing 39 children, maybe their families moved to India. Or maybe to Indiana. Or maybe they enrolled in the local private school. Or maybe they enrolled in the Arkansas Virtual School which is part of the Arkansas public school infrastructure. Or maybe more students graduated as seniors than entered as kindergarteners. Or maybe a combination of all of the above.
Given the static number of homeschooling applications, gains and losses even out. So, what is the connection between the headlined “home schooling” and a decline in Arkadelphian school enrollment? And why did six of the article’s 13 paragraphs detail homeschooling, and include particulars that could be seen as hot-button topics to the general public?
- “parents . . . can incorporate religious subject matter into the curriculum.”
- “Parents . . . do not have to meet any educational requirements . . .”
- “. . . there is no longer a penalty to the student or parent if the assessment is not done or if the student fails.”
Oh, and where did those jobs go?
Enquiring minds are buffaloed.