child cracks up under the pressure or flunks the all-importantrnpre-universit)’ exams.rnHere in the real world, we seem to be moving in the directionrnof Star Wars-style educational freedom and out ofrnthe Star Trek educational straitjacket. About 1.75 million childrenrnare currenfly homeschooled. The movement has grown atrna rate of at least 15 percent per vear for over ten ears now, andrnshows no sign of fading.rnYears ago, people used to ask me, “What about socialization?”rnor “What about college?” Today, they are more likely tornsav, “I don’t blame vou for homeschooling; the public schoolsrnaren’t safe.” Movies like 187 and Substitute Teacher are uninteuHonallyrngreat recruiting devices for homeschooling, whilernthe latest round of school shootings sadly underscores the fictrntiiat concerns about student and teacher safety are not Hollywoodrnalarmism.rnBut dodging a bullet is not the main reason more and morernfamilies homeschool. We are searching for something more forrnour children and ourselves: A better educahon, tailored to ourrncliild’s abilities. An education that honors God, instead of ignoringrnor insulting Him. Courses most schools no longerrnteach —Latin, Renaissance painting teclmiques, etiquette.rnHands-on learning projects that draw the enhre family together.rnThe op])ortunity for work or volunteering that meets the child’srninterests, as opposed to politically correct “communit}’ service.”rnThe chance to get out in the real world, instead of sitting at arndesk eight hours a day. Kids who respect and honor their parents.rnflomeschoolers do not have to get all their learning at homernor from parents. Educational sofhvare, adult mentors, the library,rnthe piano teacher, hiternet newsgroups, onlinernacademies, websites, 4-H, church groups, the YMCA, andrnmore are all grist for our mill. The real world beckons.rnWe still live in a societ}’ where government rigorously controlsrnchildhood. Social workers prowl everywhere, and mostrnpeople shll send their kids to school. Most children are notrnlegalK allowed to work. (One imjjortant exception: At an’ agernyou can work in our parent’s business or on your parenfs farm,rnwhich is one reason so many homeschooling families have startedrntheir own businesses.) In the past, an American street kidrncould get a legal job sweeping out a store in exchange for foodrnand a place to sleep, but not today. Child-labor laws aside, nornstore owner would hire him for fear of legal liability’.rnfor the kids of tomorrow to have the educational treedom ofrnthe street scum in a Star Wars movie, much change is still needed.rnThe diploma-granting universit)’ system continues to haverna virtual monopolv on entrance to good-paying jobs, and it is becomingrnmore difficult to enter or graduate from such an institutionrnwithout offering a pinch of incense to the caesar of politicalrncorrectness. Apprenticeship, outside of a few carefullyrnguarded union jobs, is not widely recognized as a valid educationalrnmethod. Child-labor laws make it difficult for kids tornlearn a trade without formal schooling, and the plague ofrnlawyers and bureaucrats make informal learning and work arrangementsrndifficult.rnBut then, homeschooling itself was difficult only ten yearsrnago and barely legal 15 years ago. With steadv effort, we nowrnhave thousands of educational products to choose from, hugernconferences to attend, and dozens of books to instruct us.rnHomeschool support groups are found from coast to coast, andrnhomeschool nragazines are on the newsstands. Research continuesrnto show homeschooled children doing significantly betterrnon standardized tests than their public-school peers, and inrnevery issue of m magazine yov will find success stories ofrnhomeschooled children winning competitions, creating impressivernprojects, or receiving some other form of recognitionrnfor outstanding work.rnFifteen vears ago, who would have imagined all this? Fifteenrnyears from now, how much further might we have gone?rnPunch it, Chewic!rnAre You a Member of The Rockford Institute ?rnWouldn’t you like to know what Chronicles’ editors dornwhen they’re not writing for Chronicles? For a taxrndeductible membership donation of $25, you willrnreceive the Institute’s quarterly publication, Main StreetrnMemorandum, your source for all the hard-hitting commentaryrnand Rockford Institute news that can’t fit in the pages ofrnChronicles. To join, send a check for $25 to:rnTRI Membershiprn928 North Main StreetrnRockford, IL 61103rnSEPTEMBER 1999/15rnrnrn