Yes, Homeschooling Works. I Would Know. | Opinion

As parents are adjusting to the new normal of school closures, many are finding that they and their kids actually enjoy homeschooling. A recent poll found that 40 percent of parents are likely to continue homeschooling, even after public schools reopen. Many education elites cannot fathom how parents without formal training in teaching could possibly provide a solid foundation for students.

Harvard Magazine notoriously wrote a recent piece against homeschooling as a valid school choice option. And even more recently, Dr. Michael Rebell, executive director of the ironically named Center for Education Equity, baselessly worried that homeschooling wouldn't provide a foundation in civics. In an interview with John Stossel, Dr. Rebell said, "There is no guarantee that kids are learning democratic values [and] learning civic knowledge." He further stated that civics is a part of a standard public school curriculum. Stossel then questioned whether students are actually learning and absorbing the material just because it's in a curriculum and provided examples of civics test questions posed to public school students where a large majority answered incorrectly.

But the evidence of homeschool success is overwhelming, in the aggregate. I also want to share with skeptics, like Dr. Rebell, my own personal story.

My wife and I have homeschooled three children since 1987. You may know of one of our children, Jenna Ellis, who is an attorney and advisor to President Donald Trump and his re-election campaign. My oldest son is a design architect for an aerospace company in Colorado, also (like Jenna) holds multiple degrees and is currently working on his doctorate in strategic management. Our youngest son just graduated homeschool high school and will be attending college to obtain a bachelor of science in aviation maintenance and management.

All three of our children know extensively about civics and how our local, state and federal governments work—and they are all active civic participants themselves. Rather than just talking about elections and voting, we held mock elections with them and they went with us to the actual polls to see first-hand what voting was about. Jenna and my oldest son both worked on a U.S. Senate campaign while in high school, and our youngest is excited to vote in his first presidential election this November. We also took our eldest two to Denver to see both President George H.W. Bush and Vice President Dan Quayle as part of their civics and government classes. Our homeschooling group consisted of the only students asked to stay and have a special tour of Air Force Two. None of this would have been possible without us homeschooling.

We also ensured our children took a proctored achievement test, and they were always well above the national average for their grade. We wanted to ensure they were indeed learning all their subjects, including civics and government.

Homeschooling allowed them to both learn and have time to pursue other interests. Jenna interned for the Colorado lieutenant governor at age 14 (the youngest intern ever in that office, at that time) and that opportunity helped her to know she wanted to pursue a law degree. She also had time to intern for the Boulder County district attorney's office a few years later. My older son learned software programming on his own in his spare time, and had a viable website development business by age 15. He also had a very successful time in the local civil air patrol unit, including a stint as cadet commander for the Colorado state encampment held at the U.S. Air Force Academy. My youngest was also in the civil air patrol and was able to try various activities in aviation.

Are my children just unusually advanced? Of course, I think they're the best kids on the planet; but no, it's that homeschooling allowed them to learn all the core subjects while also having the time and flexibility to pursue their interests and actually discover civics—not just learn about it in a classroom. Just as for public schools, there are good and better homeschools. But overall, as Stossel noted, the data confirm that homeschooled students do considerably better than average on SAT tests and in college—and, I would argue, also do considerably better in life itself.

Dave and Jenna Ellis with POTUS
Dave and Jennis Ellis with President Trump Courtesy of the Ellis family

Homeschooling also provides the opportunity for parents to more closely connect with their children and continue a mentorship relationship well into adulthood. I'm grateful that my adult children are also my close friends. One of the proudest moments in my life was when I attend the White House Christmas reception in December with Jenna. President Trump very graciously had Jenna introduce me privately and we spent a few moments speaking together during the reception. I'll never forget the words he said to me as he shook my hand and gripped my shoulder: "I just want you to know, I am so proud of your daughter."

I can't think of a greater endorsement of homeschool civics success. Civics, as all my children know, isn't just about answering test questions. It's about experience and a genuine love of America and pursuing the American dream. Homeschooling provided a foundation for all my children to pursue their individual passions while understanding how wonderful it is to have those opportunities.

My experience as a homeschool father is that non-public education is often summarily rejected because of politics and pressure from special interest groups. So with respect to the panicked dissenters, I suggest that if you really take the time to study homeschooling without a bias, you will see it is highly successful. It is not for everyone, just as public schools are not a good fit for everyone. Outright asserting with a broad brush that homeschooling is inferior is a dismissive, biased and unfounded comment. I would ask you to take your blinders off and reassess homeschooling as a viable option for parents.

I have three success stories that prove homeschooling is a definite and highly viable option. Just ask President Trump.

Dave Ellis is a senior program manager for an aerospace company. He and his wife Valerie are homeschool parents from Colorado.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.