I read Penelope Trunk's blog, which I enjoy even though I am not interested in career advice (since I am not a career-focused person, or at all interested in entrepreneurship, start-ups, my "personal brand", and so on). I like it because she is very smart, an excellent writer, and full of interesting ideas and perspectives (many of which are correct if poorly researched/thought out: her strengths are creativity and boldness, not careful consideration and logical reasoning).
She is also really crazy and probably has a personality disorder of some kind (Borderline Personality Disorder has been suggested, which seems likely). She definitely has serious social interaction issues (she believes she has Asperger's) and problems with depression, anxiety, self-harm, anger management, body issues, self-hatred and possibly substance abuse. None of this bothers me as a blog reader, since I simply benefit from her fascinating writing and sparkling mind without having to manage the crazy. But of course in real life dealing with her would be a disaster.
She's recently decided to home school her two young children (6 and 9 years old). This lends further proof to my theory that homeschooling ought to be banned. For the most part, the only people who choose to homeschool are those who should definitely not. Most people homeschool because they have wacky religious beliefs and want to assure that their children do too (over 80%). I do not think that deliberately depriving children of important knowledge about history and science is at all a good idea; in fact, it teeters on the border of child abuse (in addition to being terrible for society).
The small minority of non-religious fanatic homeschoolers are a diverse bunch, ranging from people like Penelope Trunk (who is basically a upper class Jewish urbanite oddly living in rural Wisconsin, who not surprisingly dislikes the local schools) to hippies who don't believe in formal education to those searching for a solution to a lack of meaning in their lives (housewives who don't want to go back to work, for example).
The non-religious homeschoolers tend to concentrate on the humanities: reading, writing, the arts, drama. These are all noble and important endeavors. Unfortunately, it's difficult to measure one's talent in them objectively. As a result, without a lot of feedback from the general public, it's hard to know if you are any good. Being publicly educated is a great way to learn how to compare yourself to others, and develop a realistic sense of your talents. Homeschoolers do not have this advantage and thus tend to become conceited, with unfounded very high opinions of themselves (this article is a great example of such a phenomenon).
Homeschoolers also don't learn how to deal with being bored. One of the things I really liked about the otherwise not-great Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is that it acknowledges that learning most worthwhile things is often dull. While learning can be incredibly exciting, especially if you are smart, in any subject there's also a lot of rote memorization, practice, and general dullness. If you aren't willing to put up with this, then you aren't really going to know that much.
This is especially the case for the more mentally-challenging disciplines of math and science. It's not surprising that few homeschoolers do either one; it is very concerning, however, because an understanding of science in particular is truly crucial for any modern person. In addition, since almost all the careers which pay well are in these areas, disqualifying your child from pursuing them is a real disservice.
Another major problem with homeschooling is that it draws children much closer to their families. Homeschoolers tend to cite this as a positive (a majority listed it as a major benefit of homeschooling in one recent survey). Penelope Trunk is no exception: she lists it as the main reason she likes homeschooling. But it's only an advantage if your parents are really well-adjusted, loving, and respectful of a child's need to differentiate and become independent. If the parent is crazy (as in Penelope Trunk's case), the child needs as much exposure to alternative, non-crazy modes of being as possible.
Penelope Trunk obviously loves her children, but unfortunately love is not enough if you are psychologically troubled. Homeschooling, and thus shrinking your child's world down to your own personally created universe, is a terrible idea if you are a needy, highly unstable, constantly distracted mother in an abusive relationship.
Such a shrinkage would only be desirable if the parent was such a superior person that their world really was objectively better. Sadly, this is the case for very, very few people, and almost certainly almost none of them would think it about themselves (since one of the signs of true greatness is humility, or a genuine understanding of one's defects). It's sort of like Plato's Republic: the only people qualified to rule are those who have no desire to do so.