John C. Holt, author, educator and social critic, predicts an increase in parents educating their children outside of schools, and he cites the Virginia-Washington, D.C. Maryland area as one of the pockets of "unschoolers."

"The number of unschoolers isn't big, but more are doing it. I would be delighted if within 25 years from now 10 percent (of school-age children) are outside of school. I would be very surprised if it is much more," says Holt, 55, whose many books include "How Children Fail," and "Freedom and Beyond."

Holt attributes the increases in unschoolers to, "the fact that schools are getting worse and worse." He also points to a minority's increasing desire to lead self-directed lives and to their growing skepticism of large institutions.

Yet Holt believes unschoolers will not pose a real threat to the school system. While terming schools "panicky" and "hostile," he says, "This isn't a major problem they have to face. Enrollment will drop much more because of the declining birth rate."

The unschoolers' rejection of schools will not have much of an impact in this generation because, he predicts, "The general public doesn't want that. What most people want out of schools is to get their kids out of their way, for their kids to learn to sit still and be quiet and for them to get some sort of mark so they can get a better position in the world."

For those who prefer to teach their children at home, however, Holt says it should become easier.

"Where school boards have taken parents to court, parents are winning four out of five cases. The courts are going to increasingly rule on the side of parents (who want to teach their children outside of the school system)."