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Byline: Kathleen Sweeney Staff Writer

SANTA CLARITA Santa Clarita, city (1990 pop. 110,642), Los Angeles co., S Calif., suburb 30 mi (48 km) NW of downtown Los Angeles, on the Santa Clara River; inc. 1987. Situated in the Santa Clara valley and nearby canyons, Santa Clarita includes the former towns of Canyon Country,  - Behind the closed garage door of a Canyon Country home on a recent Wednesday morning, a group of grade schoolers prepared to experiment.

They needed just a few items: a blowtorch and corn starch.

Vicki White, the ``Science Lady,'' blew the starch into the air as 11- year-old Zack Leighton released the fire.

``Ahhh,'' the crowd of grade-schoolers marveled at the chemical reaction during that day's chemistry lesson.

This group of home-schooled children gather in this garage and others like it once a month for a chemistry lesson from the ``Science Lady.''

They are handful of Santa Clarita children registered with the Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850.  County Board of Education as home-schoolers, though it's difficult to keep track of their numbers because state restrictions only recognize private schools of six or more children.

Nationwide, the number of home-schooled children has increased from 12,000 to 2 million children during the past 20 years, officials said.

``It's really an incredible change,'' said Brian D. Ray, founder of the National Home Education Research Institute. ``It's the fastest growing alternative education in America.''

But traditional educators and others question some parents' motives and accountability and the quality of education these children are receiving.


Home-schooling has existed throughout history, beginning with parents reading the Bible to their children to royal families hiring tutors. The number of institutional classrooms didn't start to increase until around the 1900s, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 the National Home Education Research Institute.

The concept of home education became smaller and smaller until the late 1970s when John Hope, a public educator, became negative about the classroom experience and began advocating home schools.

His word sparked the interest of many, once again making that form of education popular. It's continued to grow since, especially as the nation faces a surge in school violence coupled with decreasing family values family values
The moral and social values traditionally maintained and affirmed within a family.

``Home-schooling is the revival of the initial kind of education that occurred in early America,'' said Mike Smith, president of the National Center for Home School Education. ``Most of the education took place in small, private schools and there was very little public funding Public funding is money given from tax revenue or other governmental sources to an individual, organization, or entity. See also
  • Public funding of sports venues
  • Research funding
  • Funding body
. Most of the education took place at home and the wealthy hired tutors or taught their own children.''

Until 1993, it was illegal in some states to teach a child at home unless a parent was a certified teacher A certified teacher is a teacher who has earned credentials from an authoritative source, such as the government, a higher education institution or a private source. These certifications allow teachers to teach in schools which require authorization in general, as well as allowing .

Smith, who also is president of the National Center Home School Legal Defense Association The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is a United States-based "nonprofit advocacy organization established to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms. , said he has been defending parents who want to home-school home·school or home-school  
v. home·schooled, home·school·ing, home·schools
To instruct (a pupil, for example) in an educational program outside of established schools, especially in the home.
 their children since the mid-80s.

While it's legal today, there are still issues of how much authority the state has over home-schoolers. The National Center for Home Education monitors legislation about home-schooling while offering educational seminars about the topic.

The reasons to home-school include school violence, religious beliefs, peer pressures and family values. Some said they wanted to spend more time with family while others said they became uncomfortable with traditional schools after the Columbine High School Columbine High School is a secondary school in unincorporated Jefferson County, Colorado. The school is located at 6201 South Pierce Street, one mile west of the Littleton city limits and half a mile south of the Denver city/county line.  slayings. That incident alone caused home-schoolers to increase by 15 percent.

Sally Angel, director of the Alternative Schools of California and former Newhall School District The Newhall School District is a school district in the Santa Clarita Valley that serves the Valencia and Newhall communities within the city of Santa Clarita, California, as well as the Stevenson Ranch community in unincorporated Los Angeles County.  teacher, began teaching her children at home after teaching a little girl who had previously been home-schooled.

``That just opened my mind to different options here,'' she said. ``At the same time, my seventh-grader came to me saying he hated school and so we decided to home-school.''

Angel taught her son through high school, she said. When he turned 16, he started classes at College of the Canyons College of the Canyons is one of the fastest-growing community colleges in the state. According to the National Junior College Research Association, College of the Canyons consistently ranks in the top 50 community colleges in the nation. , which prepared him for college.

Susan Graham For the computer scientist, see .
Susan Graham (born July 23, 1960, Roswell, New Mexico) is an American mezzo-soprano.

Raised in Midland, Texas, she is a graduate of Texas Tech University and the Manhattan School of Music. She studied the piano for 13 years.
, director of education at Smarter Kids, which generates material for home educators, said studies have shown that children are easily distracted and aren't adequately challenged in larger classes.

Most studies have shown that home-schooled kids excel in small groups, she said. They also are active in extracurricular activities, such as sports and reading groups. Because they aren't in a constant social situation throughout the day, they also learn to become more assertive and self-reliant, Graham said.

``What I've always found really neat about home-schoolers is how very well-versed they are in education,'' she said. ``They really have taken an active role to find out what are the best practices and find out what's going on What's Going On is a record by American soul singer Marvin Gaye. Released on May 21, 1971 (see 1971 in music), What's Going On reflected the beginning of a new trend in soul music.  out there and get involved as parents.''


Home-school teachers will be the first to say that it's not an option for everyone. It's an individual choice that takes a serious commitment and time.

Parents become a child's primary educator from the time they are born, they said. From there, it is about learning more, and if a parent needs help, there are experts available.

But there isn't a lot of regulation at home schools, Graham said. Traditional educators are concerned about uninformed parents teaching a child incorrect information, children learning in an uncontrolled environment and receiving a narrow view of education and subject matter.

There are also lack of instructional materials, more out-of-pocket expenses out-of-pocket expenses n. moneys paid directly for necessary items by a contractor, trustee, executor, administrator or any person responsible to cover expenses not detailed by agreement. , and if a child has special needs, there isn't a guidance counselor guidance counselor Child psychology A school worker trained to screen, evaluate and advise students on career and academic matters  around to help, Graham said.

Robert Lee Robert Lee is the name of several people and could refer to:
  • Robert Lee (midwifery), Regius Professor of Midwifery, University of Glasgow
  • Robert E. Lee, Confederate general
  • Robert Edwin Lee, playwright
  • Robert Lee (mayor), mayor of Edmonton, Alberta
, superintendent of the William S. Hart Union High School District, said while home-schooling is a viable resource in many homes, educators wonder whether these children have a strong foundation to head into life and handle education, social situations, self-esteem, success and failures.

``In the overview of home-schooling, especially from sixth grade on, is the socialization socialization /so·cial·iza·tion/ (so?shal-i-za´shun) the process by which society integrates the individual and the individual learns to behave in socially acceptable ways.

 necessity,'' Lee said. ``It's extremely valuable though it doesn't necessarily have a yardstick to measure it.''

The school district is currently discussing whether to start a program that would offer services to home-schooling parents to help them become better teachers, with special attention to the high school curriculum.

``Personally, my hat goes off to them,'' he said. ``It's a challenge to keep the balance of the family to bringing the education arena into the home.''

Lisa Fillmore, who hosted the chemistry class in her garage, started home-schooling her daughter so the family could spend more time together.

Her child not only has time to explore subjects that interest her, but time to pursue other interests, such as dance, because she doesn't spend three hours a night working on homework.

``Most importantly Adv. 1. most importantly - above and beyond all other consideration; "above all, you must be independent"
above all, most especially
, home-schooling equals more time spent with family,'' Fillmore said. ``I have more time to teach and model our own personal family values. I have more time for intimate contact with my child. I have more time to talk with my child about anything.''


6 photos


(1 -- 2 -- color) Eileen Elliott, above, who home-schools her sons, works with Ben, 10, while twins Chaz and Carter, 4, wait their turn. At left, Joshua Kimmis, left, and Ben Elliott don special glasses for their weekly science class.

(3) A science experiment in their home classroom results in a sour concoction that is sampled by, from left, Ben, Chaz, Carter and their mom, Eileen Elliott.

(4 -- 6) Zach Leighton holds a propane torch A propane torch is a tool for burning the flammable gas propane. The maximum adiabatic flame temperature a propane torch can achieve with air is 2268 kelvins (1995 °C/3623 °F). , above, while teacher Vicki White blows corn starch into it during a science experiment. At left, Frank Hoffman leads home-schooled children on a nature walk. Below, science teacher Vicki White conducts an experiment on the front lawn of one of her students' homes.

David R. Crane/Staff Photographer
COPYRIGHT 2001 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Date:Feb 25, 2001

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