Home School Nebraska

Only a small percentage of the state's school children, just more than 2 percent, are educated at home.  What home schooling in Nebraska looks like is a mystery to most of us.

But the numbers are growing in Nebraska.  When home school numbers were first recorded in the mid 1980’s, less than 1,000 students were attending school at home.  Today there are more than 6,800.

Compared with other states, Nebraska is considered a low regulation state when it comes to home school oversight.  The Nebraska Department of Education takes its cue to regulate from the state legislature.  At the capitol, there haven’t been any significant proposals to change home school rules in recent years. Does that mean home school is working well, or that it’s just a low priority?

Home schools are called exempt schools in Nebraska.  The laws were put in place in the mid 1980s.  More than 75 percent of the home schools in Nebraska are called Rule 13, those families who want their children exempt from traditional school for religious beliefs.  The other exemption is called Rule 12 which is for other than religious reasons.  Special education needs, distance from public schools and values held are examples of Rule 12 exemptions. 

For the majority of home schoolers, the approach allows for directing children in their faith.  Nationally, more than 80 percent of home school families identify themselves as protestant compared with about 45 percent of the general population. The Badeer family of Lancaster County follows an evangelical protestant belief.

 “The world-view tells us that there is a right and a wrong," Deb Badeer said.  "There is a right answer.  There is a wrong answer.  And in that sense, I’m still incorporating a religious world view in that sense into the daily schoolwork.”

Not everyone thinks home is the right place for formal education, though.  Nancy Fulton is president Nebraska State Education Association.

“I think the training from, institutions is very critical in teaching you how to be a teacher," Fulton said.  "They have to reach certain certification and licensure in Nebraska to become a teacher, to basically demonstrate that they have the skills necessary to be a teacher."

“Children should be going to public schools because that's where the teachers are at. “

But Deb Badeer feels the focused attention given students in a home school setting, allows for high performance by the student.

“You can actually nurture and encourage them in the direction of their interests.  If that interest changes, you can redirect.  But it really gives them time to pursue more than just like a surface approach to lots of different subjects.”