While homeschooling is a controversial subject in the United States, no one denies that the rate of increase in homeschooling is astronomical. Homeschooling is increasing at a rate of ten to fifteen percent per year. More than one percent of all school-aged children are homeschooled, and the number one reason for homeschooling stated by parents is NOT religion: it is concern with philosophical difference and social problems in schools.
One population of homeschoolers that is rising is gifted students. There is no federal legislation that requires schools to meet the needs of gifted homeschoolers. If you consider a 100 IQ score to be average, and a standard deviation from the norm to be fifteen points, federal law requires that the child who scores an 85 on IQ tests receive support and an individual education plan to meet his or her needs. However, a child who is fifteen points from normal in the other direction receives no such legal protection.
Some states require that gifted students receive individual education plans, but other state, like Massachusetts, don’t even provide one dollar for state-wide gifted funding in public education classrooms. Massachusetts ranks fiftieth out of fifty states–behind Mississippi and Arkansas. While Massachusetts has the highest number of colleges on all states in the country, and is home to some of the best prep schools (Groton, Milton Academy, Deerfield Academy) and colleges (Harvard, MIT), it is dead last for gifted public education funding.
What should a parent do if his or her child scored one, two, three, four, or even five standard deviations from the norm on IQ tests? Should a second grader with a 160 IQ who performs at a sixth or seventh grade level be forced by an underfunded public school system to perform at a second grade level? With no legal protection for gifted education, many gifted students languish in school, and later become behavior problems. Twent percent of all high school dropouts are gifted. Gifted students commit suicide at a rate four time that of non-gifted students.
Private school is an option, but should the burden of high tuition be forced on the parents? If a student has an IQ of 70 and requires specialized schools, federal law requires that the district pay for the tuition. Not so if the student has a 130 IQ and requires special schools.
Homeschooling, then, becomes the default option for many parents. If you know that gifted kids drop out of high school before meeting their potential; if you know that drug abuse rates among gifted students whose needs are NOT met in classrooms are higher, proportionately, than non-gifted students or gifted students whose needs are met; and if you know that gifted students whose needs are NOT met have suicide rates 400% higher than the average student, then homeschooling becomes the only option for those parents who cannot afford $10,000 or $20,000 or more for tuition.
No Child Left Behind has literally turned into No Gifted Child Allowed To Move Ahead. Homeschooling has become popular among some parents of gifted students, but only because the schools have pushed such students and parents out of the system: where is the place for those who want to stay?