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Home schooling

Home schoolers could help chart a path to customized education

"Blended learning." "Customized education." "Student-centered." It's hard to write about what's possible in the future of education without getting stuck in a morass of jargon and buzzwords. William Mattox of the James Madison Institute has produced a new policy brief that paints a clearer picture of what those mind-fogging terms aim to describe. Imagine middle and high schools that look more like college, where students set flexible course schedules. Picture community institutions offering individual courses, and parents working with school administrators to create unique educational paths for each child. Mattox, the director of the Tallahassee think tank's J. Stanley Marshall Center for Educational Options,...

Home education participation flat in Florida, way down in Miami-Dade

After years of steady growth, the number of Florida home schoolers appears to be leveling off. According to the latest annual report, released this month by the Florida Department of Education, the number of students taught at home in the state actually inched downward by several hundred students during the 2015-16 school year, to a total of 83,359. A year earlier, the number of home schoolers saw one of its largest leaps ever. But it's possible this year's downturn is just a statistical blip and not a major shift in the trend lines. While the number of students declined, number of families choosing home education...

School choice and ‘The Voice’

Editor's note: Our friends at the EdFly recently shared a story from Florida that reveals many of the benefits of the new definition of public education. We re-publish it here. Shalyah Fearing will compete in the elimination rounds of "The Voice," which start Monday on NBC. The Tampa Tribune has the latest on her quest. by Kate Wallace When Shalyah Fearing, now 16, drove up to Atlanta from central Florida to try out for the season 9 of hit TV show "The Voice" in February of 2015, she had no idea how she would fare next to the 10,000 hopefuls who stood in line with her. After...

This week in school choice: Saved

An archaic definition of "common schools" posed an existential threat to charter schools in Washington State. The Legislature crafted a bipartisan fix to keep them in operation. Late this week, Gov. Jay Inslee let the measure become law without his signature. For many charter-school parents, Inslee’s announcement came as a relief after months of rallies, letters and phone calls. “It’s been such a difficult climate, because this is an issue that I think has become polarizing,” said Shirline Wilson, whose son attends Rainier Prep in the Highline School District south of Seattle. “I’m just thrilled that our fight is over.” Melissa Pailthorp, the mother of...

Black & homeschooled

The fight for educational freedom has always been part of the black experience in America. A recent rise in black homeschoolers is the latest chapter.

When home schoolers go charter

Teachers who come to work for Belmont Academy in Lake City, Fla. often see one of the school's recruitment fliers, illustrated with five words scratched onto a green chalk face: "I just want to teach!" Michael Cady, the charter school's principal, said that slogan tends to resonate with teachers who have no interest in working as babysitters or disciplinarians. His school, one of North Florida's few rural charters, has little need for those. "I'm going to find teachers who really want to teach," he said. "I feel like we have loaded this school with teachers like this." It's safe to say the culture is a...

Home, sweet school

Jeanne is a young but retired teacher of reading and writing in public schools; she has a working husband, boys, 4 and 7, and a girl, 10. The older two kids are enrolled in the school where Jeanne taught. She does not admire the school, and has been imagining a happier and more effective alternative for her children. Next door to Jeanne and family is an older widower, John, who has, for twenty years, taught Spanish to neighborhood kids in after-school sessions at his own house. Liz lives down the block. She used to teach math in a private school and...

From sit-ins to school choice

This is the third post in our series on the Voucher Left. Marcus Brandon’s resume starts off like a progressive’s dream. National finance director, Dennis Kucinich for president. Staffer, Progressive Majority. Deputy director, Equality Virginia. But once it rolls into Brandon’s education accomplishments, some fellow progressives get whiplash. During two terms in the North Carolina House of Representatives, Brandon was a leading force behind bills that created vouchers for disabled and low-income students, and removed the state’s cap on charter schools. Inconsistency? Not for Brandon, a rising political star whose family’s civil rights bona fides are unquestioned. “I tell people that my...