35. Survey Research on Homeschooling (5/00)

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Whereas survey research on homeschooling undermines our homeschooling freedoms in several ways, including the following:

  • Survey research is generally designed to compare homeschoolers to students in conventional schools, using the standards of conventional schools, which implies that homeschools should adopt the standards, practices, and values of conventional schools and assumes that these are the only correct ones.
  • People who feel homeschoolers should be required to take state-mandated tests can point to survey research that includes homeschoolers’ scores on standardized tests as evidence that homeschoolers are willing to take such tests.
  • Research that indicates that even a very small number of homeschoolers are not complying with their state’s homeschooling law could be used by critics of homeschooling to claim that increased regulation of homeschooling is necessary.
  • Research that shows that many homeschooling parents have a certain educational background, income level, etc. could be used to argue that all homeschooling parents should be required to have similar education, income level, etc.; and

Whereas it is very difficult to draw a representative sample of homeschoolers because some states do not require homeschoolers to register and states such as Wisconsin that require that parents file a form with the state fortunately are not willing to supply the names of homeschoolers to researchers. Therefore, when evaluated by the standards used by social scientists, survey research on homeschoolers is inaccurate and misleading; and

Whereas many families feel that the questions asked by researchers do not cover the most important reasons that they have chosen to homeschool; and

Whereas assurances of confidentiality of information do not mean much when the practice is that many people have access to this data in the name of research and increasingly government agencies can use and exchange data in the best interests of the state and/or child; and

Whereas more accurate information about what homeschooling is really like comes from cases studies of current and grown up homeschoolers and adequate evidence that homeschooling is working well comes from the lack of reports of homeschoolers having difficulty when they enter school, college, or the workforce, despite the fact that opponents of homeschooling look for such problems; and

Whereas researchers continue to probe deeper and deeper, claiming that each survey research report demonstrates the need for more research;

Be it resolved by members of the Wisconsin Parents Association (WPA) that WPA will work through its members to educate people about the problems connected with survey research, especially on homeschoolers; to encourage homeschoolers not to participate in survey research on homeschooling; and to oppose the use of the results of survey research to justify increased regulation of homeschooling. 5/00

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