The method that produced Abraham Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson is getting renewed attention from modern parents

As 44 million youngsters head back to America’s elementary, junior high, and senior high classrooms this fall, upwards of 250,000 faces will be missing. They will not be the much-lamented high school dropouts nor victims of parental neglect. They will be the growing legion of home schoolers who, while other kids are boarding buses, unjamming lockers, and searching for Room 318, will sit down at the kitchen table with Mom (or Dad, or Grandma) to resume their education.

“The new pioneers,” as newspaperwoman Diane Divoky called them in the respected Phi Delta Kappan magazine last February, “are coming out of the closet. Ten years ago, such parents would have insisted that their children stay inside the house during school hours, for fear that neighbors would report them to the truant officer. Today, home schoolers are more likely to appear on TV talk shows and to grant interviews to reporters about this educational option.”

The push factors are twofold. The first, obviously, is discontent with the public schools for an assortment of reasons: relativistic teachers, ungodly peers, falling achievement scores, less “discipline.” The second is parents’ uncertainty, in a recession, about whether they can still afford private Christian schooling, especially when the teaching is sometimes long on seatwork and short on creativity.

Meanwhile, their courage to go it alone is being fortified by (1) enthusiastic testimonials from many who are trying it and claim it’s superior, (2) a growing number of curriculum publishers providing materials for home use, (3) scholarly endorsement from secular as well as Christian quarters, and (4) the ...

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