President Chapman announced that the club had donated a total of $45,300 to 24 local charities from the Benevolent Fund. This will be communicated through local media to increase awareness of the ways that the club supports charitable activities in our community.
James Connelly introduced the speaker, Spencer Mason, who shared information about home schooling in North Carolina. Spencer has served on the board of North Carolina for Home Education (NCHE), is a Past President, and continues to serve in a leadership role. NCHE provides support and advocacy for the home schooling movement in North Carolina. This presentation is particularly timely as the Home School Conference will be held at Benton Convention Center this week with a total of 7,500 attendees expected.
Spencer provided a history of the modern home schooling movement, reflecting on the beginnings in the late 1970’s. Support for this began with a federal grant-funded study on early childhood education which found that the ideal time to introduce children to institutional school settings was after the age when cognitive thinking had developed, which was later than previously thought. Efforts to mandate changes through the educational system were not successful, however this work advanced the thinking of the potential for education outside the formal system.
Research conducted and shared by NCHE supports the effectiveness of home schooling with regard to achievement scores on national standardized tests. The data also shows that there are a large number of Christian families involved, and a majority are Caucasian families. In addition, there are many struggling learners involved in home school programs due to the challenges of finding the necessary support services in the public school system. Parents involved in home schooling typically have higher educations, but family income tends to be lower due to a smaller number of wage earners per family. However studies indicate that parent education level and demographic factors do not seem to drive gaps in learning – the key is parental involvement.
The primary reasons parents choose to home school are typically an interest in faith based learning, the thought that parents can do a better job, and safety concerns. News school based shootings and reports of bullying tend to precede an increase in the number of home schools. There are roughly 80,000 registered home schools in North Carolina. The format of the curriculum, teaching methods, and activities vary greatly as parents develop the programs to meet their own needs and the interests of the children. Teaching methods can also differ by age group. In response to a question, Spencer noted that there are no regulatory bodies that assess the quality of the home school education, however the home school community tends to provide support to each other to ensure quality education. In addition national standardized testing ensures that educational goals are met.