Steffanie Rivers

*Bullying, peer pressure and undercover pedophiles working as members of the faculty and staff: These are just three of the reasons some parents choose to home-school their children.

Oh yea, and don’t forget the poor quality of education most students must endure because they don’t attend the schools that – for whatever reason – get most of the resources in their school district.

As millions of students gear up for the first day of class in the coming weeks, other school-aged children don’t have to travel far to reach the classroom.

Home-schools have a history that goes back farther than the traditional public school setting. It started with families who used their children as farm hands and for other laborious occupations. Now parents just want to insure their children have the best chance at a quality education without all the distractions in most public school systems. I met a women who home schooled her now 19 year old son. Her younger son, 10, never has attended public school and she doesn’t regret her decision to do so.

According to the National Home Education Research Institute, in 2008 more than two million children who would have attended kindergarten through twelfth grade were home schooled in the United States.

Most parents have complaints about the quality of public education dished out like week old potato salad. But few have the financial means to afford private school or to forego a job to homeschool. Studies show that parents spend around $600 a year per child for home-school supplies. And they make up for the absence of public school sponsored activities with community sports and other entertainment.

The rules of operation vary from state to state, but in Texas parents have a choice to home school their children themselves, hire a tutor or to participate in a community home school setting where parents rotate children from house to house. One parent who’s good in math teaches all the home-schooled children in that subject while another who is more proficient in English is responsible for teaching that course.

It’s a sacrifice of time and wages those parents say is worth it if their children become more self-confident and better prepared to be productive working adults. But for those families who have no alternatives to public school all is not lost. Don’t allow your children to receive less than a first-class education. Get involved and let it be known what you expect of the school system. Afterall your tax dollars are paying for it and your children’s future is at stake.

Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. Send questions, comments or requests for speaking engagements to Steffanie at [email protected]. And see the video version of her journal at youtube.com/steffanierivers.