The growing trend of homeschooling continues amid school closures and distance learning, as parents opt for home education models rather than public school enrollment.
The Foundation for Economic Education notes that there were just under two million homeschoolers across the U.S. prior to the pandemic, making up just 3.4 percent of the total population of K-12 students.
However, based on recent polling by Education Week, this percentage has more than doubled since schools began closures this past spring to nine percent, or almost five million homeschoolers.
“State-level data show just how dramatic the surge in homeschooling has been, particularly in areas where many district schools continue to be closed for full-time, in-person learning,” FEE notes.
For example, the Boston Globe reported last week that 7,188 students transferred out of the public school system to be homeschooled this year, compared to just 802 from the previous year.
FEE points to several other localities showing sharp increases in the number of homeschooled students:
- North Carolina: 10,000 homeschool filings over the summer, compared to just 3,500 last year
- New York City: Over 10,000 students withdrew from public school to homeschool, compared to just 2,500 last year
- Vermont: homeschool applications up by 75% compared to last year
- Connecticut: over six times as many students have left public schools for homeschool compared to last year
Contrary to narratives that homeschooling and “pandemic pods” that consolidate learning for a handful of families are just for wealthy, privileged children, lower-income families are more likely to be opting for homeschool during the pandemic.
In July, the New York Times also noted that contrary to the misperception of the “privileged” homeschooler, “the population of home-schoolers — before the pandemic — was less affluent than average.”
I’m sure any homeschool veterans out there would agree it’s hardly a consistent stereotype that homeschool is for the wealthy!
Meanwhile, public schools across the country are also seeing a corresponding plummet in enrollment rates, as families opt for home education and private or parochial models instead.
In Arizona, for example, enrollment is down five percent while in Massachusetts, it’s down by four.
The Boston Globe reports a stunning decline in MA public school enrollment this year due to the pandemic. Parents are choosing homeschooling, private schooling instead. pic.twitter.com/oOFK4fb7hb
— Kerry McDonald (@kerry_edu) December 4, 2020
This can easily seem like a great silver lining to a terrible year to proponents of home education, but bear in mind that with a growth in homeschoolers comes a greater interest in regulating the practice.
As we’ve always advocated at Elizabeth Johnston Ministries, no matter where your child is educated, it’s important to inform, educate, and empower yourself to stand up to any expansion of power on the part of the state to mandate how your child learns.
Make sure to pay attention to local laws and voice your concerns.
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