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Home-school movement gains steam

By Ben Feller

Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- For more and more students, homeroom has become a room at home.

Almost 1.1 million students were home-schooled last year, a 29 percent increase since the last government survey in 1999. The growth comes as more parents, frustrated with traditional schools and limits on curriculum, say they would rather handle lessons themselves.

The estimate comes from parent surveys. The results were released Tuesday by the National Center for Education Statistics, part of the Education Department.

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In the survey, parents offered two main reasons for choosing home schooling: 31 percent cited concerns about the environment of regular schools, such as drugs, lack of safety and negative peer pressure; 30 percent wanted the flexibility to teach religious or moral lessons. Sixteen percent said they were dissatisfied with academic instruction at other schools.

In perspective, the 1.1 million home-schooled students accounts for a small part, 2.2 percent, of the school-age population in the United States, young people age 5 through 17.

A separate federal report showed a rising number of teenagers are skipping school for fear of getting hurt.

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