Importance: Home Schooling Children with Disabilities
In addition to the issues and concerns that have been discussed regarding parents of children with disabilities, there is a population of parents that are dealing with the education of their children with disabling conditions by teaching them at home.
Over the past few years, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of children being home schooled in this country (Wendel, Konnert, & Foreman, 1986). Although the exact number is not known, it is estimated that there were approximately 10,000 home educators. This figure has jumped to 260,000 (Lines, 1987) with estimates of a million children (Zakariya, 1988) and the numbers growing each year.
The home education movement has grown in both its complexity and diversity. Home schoolers reflect almost every point on the social, political, economic, religious, and philosophical spectra in our society. The movement's multifaceted nature is seen in many ways, but especially in: (a) the composition of the families involved; (b) the curricula and teaching methods employed; and (c) the characteristics of the children taught at home.
Home schooling has also generated much controversy. The mere mention of home schooling can elicit strong reactions from people. Whether it be about its basic legality, the issue of state's rights versus parental rights, the socialization of the children or the concern that "teaching children at home is like practicing medicine without a license" (Wilson, 1988), home schooling can be a very charged issue.
The legal and legislative ramifications stimulated by home schooling have been felt in recent years in almost every school district, state legislative body, and judicial system throughout the country. However, cases relating to some aspect of home schooling have been before the courts for almost 100 years (from Commonwealth v. Roberts, 1893; Meyer v. State of Nebraska, 1923; Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 1925; State v. Massa, 1967; Wisconsin v. Yoder, 1972; Perchemlides v. Frizzle, (1978); Deleconte v. State of North Carolina, 1985; Dept. of Social Services v. Emmanuel Baptist Preschool, 1987; and Blackwelder v. Safnauer, 1988.
The number of home-schooled children with disabilities may be extrapolated from data included in the 10th Annual Report to Congress on the implementation of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA), as well as the estimate of all home schoolers provided by Lines (1987) of 260,000 and Zakariya (1988) of one million children. According to the 10th Annual Report, the number of individuals with disabilities between the ages of 6 and 17 is 3.7 million or 8.9% of the resident population (Gerber & Levine-Donnerstein, 1989). Therefore, taking 8.9 as the percentage of students with disabilities between the ages of 6-17 and applying it to the range of estimates of all home schoolers, the number of children with disabilities home-schooled would range from about 25,000 to 89,000.
What is not known is if there are other factors within the home-schooled population that would increase or decrease the actual numbers than would be predicted by the 8.9% figure found in the 10th Annual Report.
Although some scholarly research efforts about home-schooling have been reported in the literature, they have been too specific, incomplete and/or insufficient in size or scope to provide clear insights as to what is happening with home-schooled children who have a disability. Almost nothing is known about the parents of home-schooled children with disabilities. In light of the topics discussed in the chapter, much is still to be learned about this topic.
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