Say for example a group of 50 parents decided to pool their resources, with parents teaching subjects that they know best, pooling their money and renting a building.
Is this legal in most states? How large could this homeschool group grow?
Think of schooling as a spectrum of choices. The result will therefore look something like this:
- Unschooling. The interests of the child guide the focus of the learning.
- Democratic schools (such as the Sudbury school system). The interests of the students guide the curriculum, but this occurs in a community environment.
- Homeschooling, with the parents (or family members) as the teacher.
- Homeschooling, with instruction guided by tutors.
- Online education.
- This also has its own spectrum, which ranges from selection of individual courses, to a complete curriculum. Online classes are available from grade school to graduate level.
- Co-op classes – where homeschool families share responsibility for teaching.
- Umbrella schools. These can also occupy a spectrum, but are generally a hybrid which may offer classes (or not). However, the idea of an umbrella school is to provide for administrative support (such as grades, or transcripts).
- Dual enrollment. Homeschool students generally have the option of attending community college classes (if they meet minimum qualifications).
- Charter schools. While some of these schools are essentially just regular schools run by businesses using taxpayer funds, others can be formed by parent groups. The specific rules for formation and administration of charter schools are determined by each state.
- Private (and religious) schools. Privately funded schools.
- Magnet schools. These are generally operated by the local school district, but with an emphasis on certain academic areas.
- Traditional schools.
Parents should think carefully about which option is best suited for their children. As some of the other responses have noted, the choice to homeschool can be VERY dangerous if not done properly.
In my family’s case, we take advantage of several different options noted above. The overall philosophy is unschooling. I have found that engagement and motivation are highest when our daughter has expressed interest in particular subject areas.
The method of instruction varies. I prefer tutoring, as research shows that it is a very effective way of learning. However, I also know that project-based learning is very important (again, supported by research). Therefore, our daughter also participates in several classes (usually online).
Lastly, I believe that mathematics and English are essential ingredients for a basic education, so I ensure that they are a continuing part of the curriculum.
Also (and this may be viewed as heretical in the homeschooling community), I believe that standardized testing has an important role to play in education. I therefore have my daughter participate in annual standardized tests at our local school. This allows me to demonstrate that she is learning the minimum requirements compared to her peers; it will also demonstrate appropriate grade-level placement, if we decide she should return to the traditional school environment (which we don’t plan on doing, but you never know); and it will prepare her for similar testing in the future (e.g. SAT), which may be useful if she decides to pursue college (which is very likely).
So, with the exception of traditional schools (which receive their mandate from federal, state, and local school authorities), I believe it is possible for parents to get together and organize learning (or schools) at virtually all other levels.