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Scholars estimate that about 2 million Americans ages 5 through 17 are home schooled. That's less than 4 percent of the total U.S. noncollege student population but double the number 15 years ago. Parents from a wide spectrum of ethnic, religious and political backgrounds home school, many to accommodate their children's unique learning needs. Scholarly research suggests, however, that most home-school families are white, politically conservative evangelical Christians who reject public schools for religious or moral reasons. After decades of advocacy against government supervision, home-schoolers in most states operate with little or no oversight of their curriculum, teaching methods or other practices. As home education has grown, a few cases of abuse and educational neglect have come to light, raising the question of whether more should be done to protect home-schooled children's interests. And with more parents saying they home school to provide their children with individualized learning, some analysts wonder whether public schools should adopt more such approaches as well.
|1840s–1910s||Compulsory schooling spreads. Public schools limit religious activities.|
|1920s–1970s||States struggle to enforce compulsory-attendance laws. Supreme Court limits states' right to regulate nonpublic education. Conservative Protestants grow more distrustful of public schools, and the so-called hippie movement refuels interest in child-centered learning.|
|1980s–1990s||Interest in home schooling grows.|
|2000s-Present||Two decades of advocacy and the rise of the Internet help spur continuing increase in home schooling.|