This post very briefly reviews William Jeynes, “Chapter 5: The Rise of Homeschooling as a Modern Educational Phenomenon in American Protestant Education” in the International Handbook of Protestant Education (2012), co-edited by Jeynes.
Jeynes is a professor of education at California State University Long Beach, and this is not the first time on the blog I’ve found work with his name on it to be substandard and poorly edited. This book chapter is very weak. It is basically a summary of the literature on homeschooling, but it’s not a very good one.
Why not? Let me give you a couple of examples and leave it at that. For this 2012 publication Jeynes begins by asserting that “surveys indicate that between 77% and 87% of these homeschooled children are Evangelical Christians.” (p.77) He cites here Raymond and Dorothy Moore’s The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook from 1994 and a short 2010 piece by “A. Nel.” Nel is actually Andrea Neal, and her piece is a reprint in the dreadful Greenhaven Press Compilation Homeschooling (Opposing Viewpoints), which itself is a rewarming of Greenhaven’s awful 2008 Homeschooling (Current Controversies), which itself was a rewarming of the better 2007 Homeschooling (At Issue). In both of the previous editions of this collection Neal’s piece had appeared, and it is reissued this time as well. It was originally published in 2006 in the Saturday Evening Post.
All of which is to say that Jeynes bases his claim about percentages of Evangelical Protestant homeschoolers in 2012 on a mid-90s how-to book and a puff-piece on homeschooling from the Saturday Evening Post.
And so it goes. Sometimes Jeynes uses better sources, but reading his chapter through one gets the sense that he hasn’t really read them carefully or synthesized them. The chapter is jumpy and eccentric. It repeatedly makes odd and awkward historical claims that strain credulity. Let me give just one more example from the chapter before putting it to rest. I quote here exactly as the text appears in the chapter:
Almost every major educational thinker that arose between the time of Abraham (b1991BC?) and Moses (b1526BC?) until Moses Plato believed (427-347BC) in the superiority of private teaching. They supported government interference only insofar as it provided structure to the school program (Eavey, 1964). [p.79]
Aside from the atrocious copy editing, this statement, and many, many others like it throughout this chapter, simply fails to understand the nature of political and educational history. It reads current categories of thought like “private teaching” and “government interference” and “school program” into a past that did not have such things, all buttressed by a citation of a book published in 1964 by Moody Bible Institute. Sad.