This post briefly reviews William Jeynes, ed., Family Factors And The Educational Success Of Children(New York: Routledge, 2010).
I was excited to obtain this book given the promising title. But my excitement soon dissipated upon reading. Only two of the chapters deal with homeschooling, and neither of these is very compelling. Chapter three, “Families, their Children’s Education, and the Public School: An Historical Review” by Diana Hiatt-Michael, is a competent if cursory overview of family-school relations throughout American history. It includes a brief section on the homeschooling movement. Hiatt-Michael begins,
In response to desegregation rulings, school districts created plans publicly to transport children from neighborhood schools in order to create ethnically diverse schools. Many parents became so enraged with this situation that they removed their children from public schools and enrolled them in private schools, created new schools, or began homeschooling. (p.53)
The only source Hiatt-Michael cites for the claim that desegregation led to homeschooling is a series of interviews she conducted with a certain M. Fantini between 1986 and 1989. As I have no idea who M. Fantini is I have no way of checking this source. I can say that in the course of my own historical research I encountered one other source that similarly claimed a segregationist motive for the trend toward homeschooling among conservative Christians in the 1980s. I tracked down the author of that source and learned that the claim had been based on the testimony of a longtime homeschooling activist. I then contacted that activist who told me that he had no actual evidence of a racial motive. It was just a hunch he had. I discuss all of this in the footnotes of chapter four of my book. The truth is, as I explain in chapter four, that racial segregation had very little to do with the explosion in homeschooling among conservative Christians in the 1980s.
This issue has come up a few times in previous posts I’ve done, most explicitly in my review of an article titled “Homeschooling and Racism.” In that post I go into a bit more detail if you’re interested.
The second chapter in the book that deals with homeschooling is the concluding chapter to the volume, titled “Families Home Schooling in a Virtual Charter School System” by Carol Klein and Mary Poplin. If that title rings a bell that is because I reviewed it already when it was published in 2008 in Marriage and Family Review. In my review of the 2008 article I expressed my disappointment that the article was based on the same data that had formed the basis of Klein’s fine 2006 book Virtual Charter Schools and Home Schooling. That book had been based on research done during the 2004-2005 school year, and when it first came out it was fresh and exciting. But the virtual school movement has been changing so rapidly that by 2008 data from the 2004 school year was quite dated. Well, now this 2010 publication from Routledge includes that 2008 article COMPLETELY UNCHANGED! I couldn’t believe it. Whether the editor or the authors should be blamed I’m not sure, but how could anyone justify re-publishing an article in 2010 that includes the following statements:
This last year closed with six CAVA [California Virtual Academy] schools in operation with school enrollments now totaling approximately 3,500 students. CAVA has sustained a rate of growth that has doubled each year. A charter application for an additional school has been granted by the state and is scheduled to open on July 1, 2006 with an estimated enrollment of 150 students…. Last year grades k-9 were offered; next fall (2006) 10th grade will be added… (p.391)
How much trouble would it have been for Klein or the editors to contact CAVA for more current information? But for whatever reason, they did not. As I said in my review of the 2008 article, nothing new here is added to the material found in Klein’s 2006 book, despite the fact that a lot of important stuff has happened in the world of cyberschools since 2004. When it first came out, Kein’s book was one of the only substantial studies extant on the movement. That is no longer the case, but you wouldn’t know it from this chapter.
In closing I must conclude, sadly, that this enticingly-titled collection of essays is of no help at all for homeschooling research.