WASHINGTON, D.C., November 2, 2003: As a Muslim, Priscilla Martinez wanted her children to learn as much about their faith as they did about reading and math. For help, she turned to Christian resources. Martinez joined the Christian-based Home school Legal Defense Association, which helped her with the paperwork for a religious exemption allowing her to teach her children at home rather than sending them to public school. She talked to Christian families for advice on home-schooling methods and lesson ideas. "That's something that's drawn us together, as people of all faiths, to stand together and preserve our right to educate our children," Martinez said. For the past two decades, home schooling has largely been a trend among evangelical Christians who have felt marginalized by the public schools and wanted to have a more active role in their children's education. But increasingly, the option has become attractive to Muslims, particularly with the scrutiny they have experienced since 9/11. Many Muslim families say they worry that their children, especially girls wearing hijabs, may be subjected to harassment or bad influences. Although Islamic schools offer an alternative, some parents find that the schools are too far away, have too few classes or emphasize a branch of Islam that the family doesn't subscribe to. The increase in Muslim home-schoolers can be measured in the Muslim-specific home-school networks, clubs and resources that have developed in the past few years. One such group, the Muslim Home Educators Network, an e-mail list, started in 1999 in San Antonio with 25 families and has grown to 2,000 families nationwide.
Home schooling is also a viable option for Hindu families, though only a few have tried it. The fact that several of the recent winners of the National Spelling Bee were home schooled and that home-schooled children score well on standarized tests show a good education is possible to receive at home.