In the analysis Sikkink conducted, just 16% of homeschooling parents said they were homeschooling primarily for religious reasons. The number one reason homeschooling parents cited was a concern about school environment, such as safety, drugs, or negative peer pressure.
Eleven percent of parents reported homeschooling because their child has special needs.
While approximately half of the homeschooling parents surveyed mentioned religion as a factor in their decision to homeschool, Sikkink notes that the parents who cited religion as a reason were, on the whole, more highly educated than those parents who did not.
In terms of Bartholet’s assertion that some homeschooling parents “believe that women should be totally subservient to men and educated in ways that promote such subservience,” Sikkink’s analysis did not find evidence that religious households oppose higher education for girls.
Among the homeschooling families in the survey who use a religious curriculum, there was no difference in their self-reported educational expectations— i.e., what education level they expected their children to reach— for their male children vs. their female children.
Several past studies have shown that homeschool students typically outperform their public and private school counterparts on things like standardized tests and college performance. A 2016 study from the National Council on Measurement in Education showed that, when adjusted for demographic factors, homeschool students were on par academically with their demographically-similar peers.
Moreover, the data Sikkink analyzed suggests that after family background and demographic controls are accounted for, about 64% of homeschoolers “completely agree” that they have much in life to be thankful for, compared to 53% of public schoolers.
On feelings of helplessness, or lack or goals or direction in life, homeschoolers do not substantially differ from their public school counterparts, the analysis suggests.
In the Arizona Law Review, Bartholet argues that while homeschool children may perform as well as their peers on standardized tests or in college, they are also often isolated from their peers and denied experiences and exposures that would make them more productive citizens.
Bartholet claims in her article that “a very large proportion of homeschooling parents are ideologically committed to isolating their children from the majority culture and indoctrinating them in views and values that are in serious conflict with that culture.”
“Isolated families,” she asserts, “constitute a significant part of the homeschooling world.”
In contrast, Sikkink’s analysis found that among the schooling groups surveyed, homeschooling families had the highest level of “community involvement” of all school sectors.
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“Community involvement” activities included attending sporting events, attending concerts, going to the zoo or aquarium, going to a museum, going to a library, visiting a bookstore, or attending an event sponsored by a community, religious, or ethnic group.
Homeschooling graduates are almost identical to their public school counterparts in likelihood to vote in federal and local elections, Sikkink found.
Furthermore, the total number of volunteer and community service hours for homeschooling graduates is very similar to or slightly higher than public school graduates, the analysis found.
Bartholet asserts that some homeschoolers “engage in homeschooling to promote racist ideologies and avoid racial intermingling.”
In contrast: “The reality is that about 41% of homeschooled children are racial and ethnic minorities,” Sikkink writes.
“When asked about four closest friends, about 37% of young adult homeschoolers...mention someone of a different race or ethnicity—exactly the same as public schoolers.”