There is a seven-page article in Harper’s about why algebra is not necessary, and in fact, the author (Nicholson Baker, for all you literary minimalist afficionados) concludes that in most cases, forcing kids to learn alegebra is torture.
This is not controversial. The New York Times has also suggested that algebra requirements are deulusional and we don’t need them. And the Washington Post has published a diatribe against forced high-school math as well.
So it’s pretty safe to say that among the intellengentia who do not make a living related to standardized teaching, the conclusion is that forced algebra is unnecessary. Which makes it ironic that the parents who are most enthusiastic about forcing their kids to learn algebra are the parents who want their kids to be part of the intelligentsia.
This got me thinking: I think it’s actually the smart parents who are homeschooling because they don’t want to be tied to crazy, irrelevant standards. And it’s the parents who doubt their own intellectual judgement who most push the standard curriculum on their kids.
I had no way to prove this, though. But then I did. I came across some statistics that showed that most parents homeschool because they want their kids to get a better education than school offers. And most parents who homeschool have college degrees. I did a bunch of number crunching and found this: about 8% of college educated parents homeschool their kids.
You are looking for a link, right? First, listen to this. It makes sense to me that educated parents would be the first to have the confidence to say that the school’s seal of approval for education is worth nothing. But it also makes sense to me that the homeschool statistics for couples who both have college degrees are shocking as well, because so few divorce.
But still, I am skeptical, so I’m publishing my research so you can analyze it for yourself, and tell me what you think about my hypothesis that 20% of parents with college degrees are homeschooling their kids.
Here’s my math: iIn the US, 2,040,000 kids are homeschooled, in families with a median of 3.1 children (Top Masters in Education), so that’s about 658,064 (total kids divided by the median number of kids per family) families homeschooling.
90 percent of homeschooled kids have two parents with college degrees (Top Masters in Education) so this means 592,258 homeschooling families have two college educated parents.
In the US, 47,905,659 adults have college degree (US census data)
Among college graduates, 51% are married. (US census data)
This means there are 24,431,886 adults with college degree who are married.
Let’s assume they all marry each other. This is actually not a sure thing. It’s more likely that only about 70% of college grads marry other college grads. So we’ll split the difference since we are considering this over a long period of time and say that 85% marry each other, giving us about this many couples: 10,383,557
And 25% of college educated couples are childless (Wikipedia)
So the number of couples who both have college degrees and who have kids is 7,787,668.
Which means 7.6 % of couples with two bachelors degrees are homeschooling. (I divided homeschooling families by mutually educated couples with kids, multiplied by 100%.)
It doesn’t really matter if you believe me, though. Because whatever the statistics are, it’s clear to me that it takes intellectually secure parents to pull their kids out of school. You have to believe your kids are innately bright, no matter what they learn, and you get that belief in your kids by having it in yourself.