Muslims turning to home schooling in increasing numbers
From The Washington Post. By Tara Bahrampour.
On a chilly afternoon in western Loudoun County, a group of children used tweezers to extract rodent bones from a regurgitated owl pellet. A boy built a Lego launcher. A girl practiced her penmanship. On the wall, placards read, "I fast in Ramadan," "I pay zakat" and "I will go on hajj."
Welcome to Priscilla Martinez's home -- and her children's school, where Martinez is teacher, principal and guidance counselor, and where the credo "Allah created everything" is taught alongside math, grammar and science.
Martinez and her six children, ages 2 to 12, are part of a growing number of Muslims who home-school. In the Washington area, Martinez says, she has seen the number of home-schoolers explode in the past five years.
Although three-quarters of the nation's estimated 2 million home-schoolers identify themselves as Christian, the number of Muslims is expanding "relatively quickly," compared with other groups, said Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute.
They do so, he said, for the same reasons as non-Muslims: "Stronger academics, more family time, they want to guide social interaction, provide a safe place to learn and . . . teach them [their] values, beliefs and worldview."
Parents say it is an attractive alternative to public schools, with whose traditions and values they are not always comfortable, and Islamic schools, which might be too far away, cost too much or lack academic rigor.
If Muslims have come to embrace home schooling later than others, it might be in part because so many Muslims in the United States are immigrants who might not be aware of the option. In fact, for many immigrants, the idea of home schooling runs counter to their reasons for coming to America, which frequently include better educational opportunities. And public school has long been seen as a key portal to assimilation...