Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Advocating For Homeschooling With The Media

Researchers say that there are currently over 2 million homeschoolers in the US and that homeschooling is growing about 15% a year.

Since homeschooling has been in the news with winners of spelling bees, and other items of interest, I thought the following might be worthwhile to ponder.

The perceptions that most people have about homeschooling come from the media, unless they know someone personally who homeschools. The media, comprised of newspapers, television, radio and wire services have run stories regarding homeschooling and may highlight homeschool issues through their education editors. Education has been a primary focus in the news, and homeschooling has been an educational option which many people have become interested in.

The media is able to shape perceptions about many issues, and homeschooling is one of them. It goes without saying that effective advocacy on behalf of homeschoolers includes taking stock of what is being said in the media about home education.

There are some things that you can do to be an active participant in the process.
1. Read the newspaper everyday. Look for articles having to do with homeschooling, or issues related to homeschooling.
2. Know the facts about homeschooling in your state.
3. Pay attention to radio and television shows which may mention homeschooling
4. Respond to media coverage which is incorrect, misreported or negatively biased regarding home education.

It is worthwhile to know a little about media coverage. Newspapers and magazines offer different forums between the front and back cover with regard to news and analysis. Breaking News stories are usually written on the scene and describe the events as they are happening. Columns, Op-eds, and editorials generally express a viewpoint or an opinion on an issue. Knowing the difference is helpful when you are advocating for homeschooling issues.

News articles are supposed to present a story from a balanced perspective, which means that both sides of the issue are usually presented in the article. Professional journalists are expected to uphold their profession's standards of accuracy, fairness and balance when they report on a story.

There are times when we have all seen information reported on, which contain inaccuracies, overlook important information, or utilize old information. We should seize the opportunity to correct those inaccuracies, by calling in to radio shows, writing letters to the editor or submitting our own op-ed pieces to the papers.

I'd would like to see the elimination of the ridiculous stereotype that homeschoolers sit around the kitchen table doing lessons all day, sheltered from the world and that our children are subjected to a life of no socialization. I don't know of any homeschooling family that fits that description, but the stereotype sadly exists in the media. The proliferation of the notion that our children are isolated, and that socialization only comes to children in brick buildings for 8 hours a day, is ludicrous at best.

It's up to all of us who know the truth about homeschooling, and the richness of what it has to offer our children, to make sure the media reports accurately about what homeschooling is really all about:

Freedom to learn and learning in freedom.