Florida Department of Education Data Shows Surge in Homeschool Students



Data from the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) for the 2020-2021 school year shows a significant increase in the number of homeschool students. FDOE believes the increase is the “direct result” of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Not counting public school students who opted to learn virtually, 143,431 students were homeschooled during the 2020-2021 school year, representing a 35.2% increase from the 106,115 students from the 2019-2020 school year.

The data also shows the number of families responsible for homeschooling their children jumped from 75,347 in 2019-2020 to 100,293 in 2020-2021, with each family averaging almost 1.5 students.

Although the surge in homeschooling has been steadily increasing since the 2010-2011 school year, the jump from 2019-2020 to 2020-2021 is 26 points higher than the next highest year-to-year increase which was 9.1%. In addition, the number of home-school students in 2020-2021 is more than double the number in 2010-2011 when there were 69,281 home-school students.

Before the start of the 2020-2021 school year, parents’ concerns over in-person learning was strongly influenced by the unknown challenges that school districts faced when developing a plan to reopen schools. According to Tampa Bay 10, Cindy Mitchell is one of many parents who felt like homeschooling was the most stable option amid the pandemic, and said she did not feel “confident in the school system’s ability to plan.”

Fast-forward to this year, Lee County parent, Rachel Gagnon, told WINK News, “I was looking forward to him going to public school, but then, you know, having done it this year, we’re like, ‘Wow, there’s just so many benefits to home school that I didn’t even think about prior to this.'”

Another Lee County parent, Cesali Garcia, expressed her concern to WINK News regarding masks, saying, “The pandemic forced me to take that leap.” She added, “My worry with the masks was she wasn’t going to be able to see the mouth or lips and phonics.”

Garcia’s concern over masks comes after Governor DeSantis issued an executive order that bans schools from mandating students wear masks, which is set to be challenged by six Tampa-based attorneys in the coming weeks.

According to The News Service of Florida, Scott Kent, the Director of Strategic Communications for the Step Up for Students organization that advocates for parents’ decision on flexible schooling options, said, “The significant increase in home-schooling illustrates that more and more Florida families are seeking flexibility to customize their children’s education. We hope the state will continue to support giving all students access to the educational setting that works best for them.”

As another school year begins, and the pandemic still lingers, the increasing number of parents deciding to homeschool their children is expected to continue.

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Casey Owens is a contributing writer for The Florida Capital Star. Follow him on Twitter at @cowensreports. Email tips to [email protected]






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