In the debate over education funding, the focus of which is mainly funding public schools or providing vouchers for charter schools, you never really hear about another option that’s out there: homeschooling. More than three percent of the school-aged population are homeschooled.
There might be a reason this option is rarely discussed, however. Upon looking closely, it’s pretty apparent that homeschooling is probably not a viable option for many people.
This conclusion actually has nothing to do with curriculum or any of the common criticisms of homeschooling, believe it or not. The old stereotype is that home education consists of fundamentalist indoctrination, but many homeschooled individuals have gotten standard educations, thrived at college, and become well-adjusted adults. The argument that homeschooled kids miss out on socialization is not entirely true, either, as they still can participate in after-school activities. Some public schools also allow homeschooled students to participate in extracurricular activities and even sports.
If it is inviable, it's simply a matter of economics.
Homeschooling is treated like private schooling. According to the Department of Education, the average cost of private school per year is nearly $8000 for elementary school and more than $13000 for middle and high school. While homeschooling doesn’t charge tuition, the parents have to provide all the materials of a school like textbooks, workbooks, testing, and so on. Despite not quite reaching private school levels, even pro-homeschooling organizations admit the costs can add up.
Here in Indiana, the median household income in 2013 was $48,248, according to the U.S. Census. That figure was slightly higher in Lake County at $49,035. On that budget, a few hundred to a few thousand per year per child is a considerable expense. And that doesn’t even take into account the fact that an adult in the household would have to devote much of their time to teaching, ostensibly sacrificing employment and, ergo, a good amount of household income.
Is homeschooling worth the cost? Well, I've found that's the point where research shifts from figures to mostly opinions about the topic. I honestly can't say, but the question is kind of a moot point if it's unaffordable for so many.