School violence fuels interest in home study programs
May 28, 1999
ORLANDO, Florida (CNN) -- Almost 3,000 parents are spending part of their Memorial Day weekend at an annual home-schooling convention that got under way Thursday in Orlando. Organizers said that the Columbine High School massacre and other recent school violence has heightened interest among those considering educating their children at home.
They said attendance at the convention grows by about 15 percent every year. But this year, the Columbine factor has led to overflow crowds at workshops where parents can exchange ideas and pick up advice and books from home schooling specialists.
"Because of all the violence in the school systems, we've been getting an increased number of inquiries into the option of home schooling and a number of people are coming to check this out as a viable option," said Marcy Krumbine of the Florida Parent Educators Association.
Violence was the clincher for Tonya Todd. First her 12-year-old son was attacked at his school. Then came the school shootings in Colorado and Georgia.
"It just clicked in my mind that it's not over," said Todd. "That this is just the beginning. This is the beginning of terrorists in our schools."
Whether or not that is true, home schooling advocates emphasize that parents should not make violence their sole reason for making a change in their child's education.
"I don't want families to simply jump into home schooling if they're not ready to hang in there," said Christopher Kicka of the Home School Legal Defense Association.
Home schooling proponents maintain success in this educational method requires a major commitment from the parents.
Elizabeth Contini was willing to accept the responsibility of her children's education and withdrew them from a private grade school for home schooling. While she said her decision was re-affirmed by this year's surge in school violence, it was not the main reason she chose home schooling.
"Instead of my life taking control of our family, our schedule, I want to take control of our lives," said Contini.
Control was also a positive factor of home schooling for the White family.
"The way I see it, with my wife working with the both of them, they'll get special attention," said Willie White.
The White's first year of home schooling their children was so positive, they decided to attend this year's convention to check out teaching materials and hear the latest from experts.
Workshops and lectures included, "Jazz Your Science," "The Latin Road to Reading" and "More like a Family, Less like a School."
While home-schooled children might not get the socialization that schools traditionally provide, that's a factor that those choosing to teach at home are willing to sacrifice.
Correspondent Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.
Homeschooling in Florida
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