Stories & Grievances
New Study Shows That Homeschooling and Private Schools Save Public School Money
Study Shows Nevada Home, Private Schools Save Districts Millions
Written By: Krista Kafer
Published In: School Reform News
Publication Date: May 1, 2005
Publisher: The Heartland Institute
A new study by the Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI) finds homeschooled students save Nevada taxpayers millions of dollars each year, refuting the notion that homeschooling costs school districts funding.
According to the report, "Homeschooling in Nevada: The Budgetary Impact," by John Wenders, Ph.D. and Andrea Clements, Ph.D., homeschooling saves the state's taxpayers between $24.3 million and $34.6 million a year. Private school students save taxpayers between $101.9 million and $147 million.
School Districts Also Save
Wenders and Clements also calculate the impact of home- and private schooling on school district revenues. They multiplied average per-pupil costs by the number of homeschooled and privately schooled students. This calculation shows what it would cost to educate home- and privately schooled students in public schools.
Opponents of homeschooling point out Nevada's school districts lost $83.4 million in state aid over the 2002-03 school year. While that is technically correct, the authors note, "the argument ... ignores the fact that these same home- and private school students benefit school districts in the long run by relieving the school districts of the far greater costs of educating them."
In 2003, home- and private school students allowed school districts to avoid costs totaling between $126.2 million to $181.7 million--"amounts far in excess of the 'lost' revenue in state aid," Wenders and Clements point out.
"The argument that homeschooled children cause school districts to 'lose' money is based on the false premise that children are automatically the property of their local public school," Wenders said. "Children are not, by default, the property of any school, and public schools cannot 'lose' what they do not own. Children are, first and foremost, in the care and keeping of their parents, who then have a right to decide what education is best for them.
"The bottom line is that home- and private schooling is a 'win-win' arrangement for both taxpayers and individual public school districts," the authors write.
Responding to the claim that the study's methodology doesn't address fixed costs that do not decline when students choose nonpublic schooling, the authors state, "their logic is belied by their own figures when student numbers increase. When student numbers increase, costs are said to increase and additional funding is required. When student numbers decrease, however, costs are never said to decrease. Plainly there is a self-serving asymmetry to this argument."
During the 2003-04 school year, 4,136 students were schooled at home and another 17,894 received education at private schools. Nationally, the number of homeschooled students has increased from 15,000 in the 1980s to an estimated 2 million in the current decade. According to Wenders and Clements, homeschoolers now represent from 1.8 percent to 3.7 percent of the U.S. student population.
National Information Provided
The NPRI study provides readers with national information about student socialization, academic achievement, and the reasons families choose homeschooling. The research cited by the study shows:
*in general, homeschooled students live in two-parent households where parents have attained a higher-than-average level of education. Households are typically less affluent and more rural than those opting for private education;
*parents choose to homeschool their children for many different reasons, including academic aspirations, desire for more time with children, safety concerns, or a desire to impart religious, cultural, or philosophical values;
*homeschooled students attain higher academic achievement as measured by standardized testing, college attendance, and standing in national spelling and geography contests; and
*homeschooling provides adequate opportunities for socialization and protection from negative social interactions.
The study also included information on Nevada's homeschooling regulations. To comply with the compulsory education law, students must attend a public school from ages 7 to 17, or receive equivalent instruction at a private school or home. They must receive instruction in English reading, comprehension, and writing; mathematics; and science.
When beginning to homeschool, parents must provide their district with information about the goals and materials they use and their eligibility to teach according to state criteria for homeschools. After this initial notification, parents must then inform the district annually of their intent to continue homeschooling.
Homeschoolers and privately educated students may participate in public school classes or extracurricular activities at the state's expense when space is available.
Krista Kafer (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an independent education writer.
Homeschooling in Nevada: The Budgetary Impact
by Jack Wenders and Andrea Clements