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Home school numbers skyrocket in Canada: parents ‘dissatisfied’ with public education, says expert

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June 19, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- More and more Canadians from diverse backgrounds are opting to teach their children right in the comfort of their own home, according to a new report.

A review released earlier this week from the Fraser Institute found that official enrollment of kids being home schooled grew by 29 percent across the country between 2007 and 2012: that is, from 16,773 being schooled at home to 21,662.

The actual rate of growth may be much higher since many home schooling parents do not tell local or provincial authorities that they are schooling their children at home.

“I would say there is a very large percentage of people and Canada who are dissatisfied with what is going on in their public school and who are looking for an alternative. And for some of them, home schooling is that alternative,” said Paul Faris, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association, to LifeSiteNews.

Faris said that he believes the graphic sex-ed curriculum Ontario is implementing this fall could "potentially” lead to a significant increase of homeschoolers. Disagreements over how sex-ed is handled is a possible "triggering factor" that could move many parents towards making the “lifestyle choice” of schooling their children at home, he said.

One blogger from Subway to Damascus was more blunt in his assessment: “I expect this number [of home schoolers] will skyrocket as a result of the sex-ed programs being implemented in Ontario and Alberta.”

Faris said that there are many reasons parents choose to school their children at home, including pragmatic reasons such as special needs, or because of family structure and flexibility, or for values-based reasons.

The review, titled “Home Schooling in Canada: The Current Picture – 2015 edition” compiled the wealth of research showing that homeschoolers tend to outperform their traditionally schooled peers on various metrics.

“Several studies show that home-educated students were more likely than their peers to have secondary school as their highest level of education, yet in Canada they were also more likely to complete a doctorate or professional degree and to hold a professional or managerial occupation,” the review by Fraser Institute’s Deani Neven Van Pelt stated.

The review covered research dating back to the 1990s consistently showing “higher percentile scores for home-educated students in the United States and Canada than for public-school students on standardized tests in reading, writing, and mathematics.”

“Several studies affirm that home-educated students are prepared for post-secondary education and may even be considered high achievers,” the review stated.

The review also found that in response to growing numbers of home schoolers, in the last eight years five provinces have updated or expanded the regulations or policies within which home schools function.

Faris told LifeSiteNews that his organization has played a role in helping provincial governments develop regulations so that parents are given freedom to do what they believe is best for their children.

“It’s our job as a community, as HSLDA and home schooling groups and home schooling families to dialogue with the government and make sure that regulation doesn’t get in the way of the good of home schooling. For the most part, we’ve found that we’ve been able to work with government to make sure those forums are not intrusive or damaging to what makes home schooling good, which is really individualism,” he said.

Interestingly, the review found that parents opting to school their children at home saves Canadians tax dollars, to the tune of a quarter-billion dollars each year.

“Because the majority of costs associated with home schooling are born by the parents, home schooling results in a net financial saving to provincial governments,” the review stated. “With a total of 21,662 students enrolled as home schooled in Canada [in 2011/12], the families educating their children at home saved Canadians $256.4 million.”

The review concluded that home schooling is “no longer the realm of a radical few parents,” but has become a viable option to many more parents.

“It matches changing lifestyles and employs opportunities technology provides. It is efficient for some parents and is a cost savings measure from which all taxpayers benefit,” stated the review.

The Home School Legal Defense Association agrees: “Homeschooling families have known for a long time that keeping our kids at home has many benefits…[W]hether you are keeping your children home because of special needs, family structure and flexibility, values-based reasons, or other reasons, you are uniquely equipped to teach your children at home.”

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