At a time when school violence makes headlines all too frequently and political candidates name improving education as a top campaign issue, more and more parents are opting to take education into their own hands. "Now you're seeing a wide range of people thinking of it as a reasonable option for their kids," said Mitchell Stevens, as assistant professor of sociology at Hamilton College in New York who has recently completed a book on homeschooling. "This isn't regarded as strange anymore," he said. Nationwide, the U.S. Department of Education estimates that 1.2 million children are homeschooled. In the 1970's, that number fell around 20,000, experts say.