The relationship between public school districts and the home schoolers living in their attendance zones has changed significantly over the past 30 years.
Brian D. Ray, the founder and president of the National Home Education Research Institute, said school districts and home schoolers had an acrimonious relationship in the late 1980s and early 1990s, as legislative battles sought to regulate home schooling and home-educated students’ access to extracurricular activities in public schools.
Today, with many of those legislative issues resolved, Mr. Ray said the nation’s 2.2 million home-schooled students and their families find themselves enjoying a mostly cordial or neutral relationship with their local districts.
While virtual charter schools once aggressively targeted home schoolers as potential customers, Mr. Ray said some of those efforts generally have subsided. Now, technology is providing home schoolers with more opportunities to network and expand their children’s curricula. “Home schooling is an alternative that mainstream America now considers,” Mr. Ray said.
For its part, the Council of the Great City Schools, a Washington organization that represents large urban districts, has not flagged home schooling as a priority issue, according to Henry Duvall, the group’s director of communications.
And John Hill, the executive director of the National Rural Education Association in West LaFayette, Ind., said that most school districts recognize that creating positive relationships with home-schooling families is in the best interest of the students.
However, Mr. Hill, a former superintendent, acknowledged that integrating home-schooled children into the regular school setting and working with students who are homeschooled on a part-time basis in addition to attending traditional schools presents challenges for some school districts.
A version of this article appeared in the January 09, 2014 edition of Education Week as Home School Nation