Homeschooling numbers have increased over 300% in the last 2 years, according to federal government census data. This huge spike does not include Americans engaged in virtual learning through a public or private school program due to COVID protocols. These are full-time homeschoolers.
The United States Census Bureau has been tasked with collecting data through nation-wide surveys for over 80 years. The data is intended for use by other government agencies and elected officials for policy decisions. This is the first time the Census Bureau has sought to identify the total number of homeschoolers in America. Previous surveys only marked children that were un-enrolled in public or private school. That rate usually hovered around 3.3% and was as high as 5.4% in 2019. Homeschool families have been traditionally seen as a small minority and have been largely ignored by elected representatives. In 2020, due to the COVID school closures, census questions were modified to specifically identify the number of homeschoolers, and the results were shocking for many. In October 2020, 11.1% of 22-23 million U.S. households reported to be full-time homeschoolers without any enrollment in a public or private school. Besides Alaska, who reported 27.5% of households dedicated to full-time homeschool, Oklahoma led all states at 20.1%. Other notable states included Florida at 18.1%, Vermont at 16.9%, Georgia at 16.0% and Tennessee and Arizona at 13.0%.
There was little surprise of the exodus from public and private schools due to COVID mask mandates and/or health concerns in 2020. What has been surprising, is that many of these students did not re-enroll for the 2021-2022 school year. No doubt the push for Critical Race Theory, and the loss of confidence in the traditional institution’s ability to teach children via virtual technology, played a significant role in a huge shift toward full-time homeschooling. The number of homeschool kids grew from 11.1% in 2020 to 16.5% in May 2021. Homeschool numbers are continuing to rise, along with their potential political influence. Homeschooling parents will undoubtedly have a larger impact on their local and state policy makers, and this is a good thing for America.
Two common points advocated by opponents of homeschool are that homeschool is inferior to a public-school education and homeschool children lack the social skills that other children learn in public and private-school extracurricular activities. However, one reason for the record growth in homeschool is due to the dispelling of some of these negative assumptions through social media connection and support groups. All colleges and universities, including Ivy League, accept homeschool students and homeschool students have traditionally performed better in college than public and private school students. Not all pro-homeschool data has been published by homeschool advocacy groups. For example, one study, published in the Journal of College Admissions, found that homeschoolers who attended the College of St. Thomas, averaged 26.5 ACT score versus 25.0 for private and public-school students. They also found that homeschoolers finished their freshmen year of college with an average GPA of 3.46 compared to 3.16.
Communities around the country continue to dispel the popular misconception of a lack of socialization among homeschoolers. Increased opportunities have come with the rising number of students. Homeschoolers can partake in co-ops, organized sports and any extra-curricular activity imaginable. At least 29 states allow homeschool students to participate in public-school interscholastic activities. For example, in Oklahoma City there are even homeschool Junior high and high school football teams.
Homeschooling has many beneficial impacts for communities and public-school districts. More homeschoolers mean lower teacher-to-student ratios. Smaller class sizes make it easier for teachers to address the needs and unique challenges of individual students. Fewer students lower the overhead for school transportation and administrative functions. This should lead to a reduction in administrative faculty and drastically reduce education expenses, which homeschool proponents argue is the real reason why teacher unions are so opposed to homeschool growth.
Homeschoolers still pay public school taxes, which usually account for the greatest portion of state and county property taxes. The purpose of these taxes is to ensure the proper education of future American citizens. It seems reasonable, that homeschool, private and charter school parents, should be granted a reduction in education taxes. Redirecting these funds to parents who are seeking alternative forms of education, would help cover the costs of curriculum, computers, technology and other educational resources.
There are also many reasons why parents should be given the freedom of school choice. Homeschools offer an alternative solution for parents whose children face situations like bullying (including cyber bullying), poor performing school districts, a need for flexibility and personalized education, chronic illness, and military moves. Many parents have argued, the right of school choice is more important than ever, as public curriculum veers away from traditional teaching methods toward Critical Race Theory, political, and immoral indoctrination. There is a definite rallying cry for the freedom of school choice, and many Americans are advocating for policy change. Perhaps the 300% nation-wide increase in the number of homeschool families will finally encourage policy change, to protect a parent’s right to homeschool their children.