I had always been against homeschooling until I met two particular women who did a remarkable job with it.
In general, I am against homeschooling because I think most people who wish to do it lack the skills to do it properly. If someone can truly do a good job of it, then so be it. However, considering my interactions with the public over the past 30 years, I think only a small group of our fellow citizens can pull it off.
I thought homeschoolers were always conservative christians teaching a skewed view of science, and agreed with the OP about socialization issues. Turns out, many homeschoolers are secular, doing an excellent job of teaching, and they include tons of field trips for socialization and learning. In fact, they're able to go on some school activities with the local schools, as I understand it.
At least where I live, most homeschooling parents are conservative Christians who have a stay-at-home mom but don't earn enough money to pay tuition at the local private religious schools -- and I have visited those private schools and was appalled to find fewer resources (per capita) in the schools than I had in my own home. A few other homeschoolers are well-educated, live-free types (sometimes pejoratively referred to as "hippies") who think that the local school system doesn't do enough and is dumbed-down.
I don't fear a lack of socialization in seeing other kids in the process of homeschooling because there are networks that help take care of that issue. Instead, I fear that kids who are homeschooled will not get to know the true inner workings of other kids, day-to-day, as the rest of us do as adults in the workplace. The trials and tribulations of motivating people to do things becomes more apparent when socialization occurs daily and routinely rather than in special projects or outings. There are all kinds of little things kids don't learn when homeschooled, but I must admit there are others that they do learn often by only being homeschooled.
I have several complaints about public school. Bullying. Class sizes that are too large for individual attention. Teaching to the lowest common denominator, leaving smart kids bored. Ditto on the other end, with struggling kids not able to catch up.
I am totally with you on this one. While no school system can be free of bullying, our local school system appears to be doing a good job of minimizing it. I am not aware of any big issues. The public schools in Maryland are excellent, for the most part. There are definitely issues at some of the smaller, rural schools and at the larger urban schools. There is a direct correlation to the parents of the children who attend -- the more wealthy and educated the parents, the better the local school system is. I am more than aware of that fact having been educated in smaller, rural schools and then having my daughter attend a larger school system with excellent resources. The differences are dramatic.
If there is one thing I could do in this life, it would be to revamp the education system as we know it. It floors me to think of how technologically advanced we are, yet we are conducting school in much the same ways as we did 100 years ago. We teach subjects to kids in certain grades -- either they pass the test or they don't. Either they pass with their classmates or they don't. They learn "skills" later in the working world. This makes zero sense to me. It not only hampers children who need more help in one area or another, but it also hinders those who would be capable of more but cannot rise above those who aren't. We should have a system of education that doesn't lock kids into "grades" that they must all be herded through, but we should have "levels" that they can individually achieve. The kids in a particular social group (age) should progress with each other because they are chronologically equal, but we should have a way of differentiating their academic progress so that those who can complete all the levels of a certain subject can do so early allowing them more time to focus on the subjects that give them trouble. In my daughter's case, she should be able to max out all of the English/literature classes because she maxed all of her standardized and specialized test results way back in 5th grade (she's now in 10th) because she is a voracious reader and writer, but she needs far more work on mathematics. My daughter does well in school, overall, and she does well on the standardized tests, overall, but the format of education that we are living with today does not match the needs of our society. It's lopsided to tradition rather than modern requirements.
Now, that said, I think it would be exceedingly rare to find a family that had the luxury of time, money and ability to do a good job at homeschooling.
Yes, that is the problem. I think it would be great if our society required parents to formally participate more in the education system. As it stands, rarely do any of us get a time-out from work or other things to really assist in the classroom.
I don't have an answer, but I'm not longer flat-out against homeschooling. I think when its well done it does a MUCH better job than public school. When its done badly you end up with kids who know little about the real world.
I had a friend who was homeschooled from 10th grade on because she was bullied in our school. There were other undiagnosed mental health issues with her that follow her through to this day, unfortunately. Her schooling did suffer, as well as her opportunities in life to this day. I won't say that homeschooling does a much better
job than standard schooling, but it certainly does a much different
job. I think it is a trade-off for one thing vs another. Parents who actively take part in their children's education, even when those children attend public schools, are much better off in general. Knowing some of the fellow parents and children in my daughter's class, we can tell who is talking to their kids in the evenings about current events, philosophy, history, physics, etc. Even one of my daughter's classmates had a father who read Voltaire to her when she was 4 (she one day asked why the cat was named Voltaire, and I'm sure she regretted what occurred next). But, that is not something that occurs in every home. In that regard, I let the public system educate my daughter during the day, and I provide more homeschooling in the evenings and weekends.