Surge in Homeschooling Families Continues after Schools Reopen

The number of families homeschooling in the United States has remained significantly above pre-pandemic levels even though government schools have reopened.

The Associated Press (AP) reported on data Thursday it said it “obtained and analyzed”:

The coronavirus pandemic ushered in what may be the most rapid rise in homeschooling the U.S. has ever seen. Two years later, even after schools reopened and vaccines became widely available, many parents have chosen to continue directing their children’s educations themselves.

The number of homeschooling students increased by 63 percent during the 2020-2021 school year in 18 states that shared data, AP reported. That percentage then dropped by only 17 percent in the next academic year.

The report added:

All of the 28 state education departments that provided homeschooling data to the AP reported that homeschooling spiked in 2020-21, when fears of infection kept many school buildings closed. Of the 18 states whose enrollment data included the current school year, all but one state said homeschooling declined from the previous year but remained well above pre-pandemic levels.

Census Bureau data released in March 2021 showed 11.1 percent of K-12 students are now being homeschooled. That percentage is a significant increase from the 5.4 percent who were educating at home at the start of the school shutdowns in March 2020, and the 3.3 percent in the years before the lockdowns.

The sharp rise in homeschooling is accompanied by the fact that public school enrollments have plummeted.

During the pandemic school closures, which the teachers’ unions wholeheartedly supported, many parents sought other education settings for their children and have since decided not to return to government schools. The decline in public enrollments is leading to a drop in taxpayer funding that comes with fewer students.

A survey conducted in January by the nation’s largest teachers’ union found the number of teachers who say they will leave the profession sooner than originally planned has surged significantly since last summer.

“Throughout this pandemic, America’s educators have shown us how committed they are to helping their students thrive. In every community across America, our educators are partnering with parents and families to ensure all students have the freedom to achieve their dreams,” said National Education Association President Becky Pringle.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), however, reported a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) official testified that the nation’s top health agency coordinated with teachers’ unions at an “unprecedented” level to craft school reopening guidance that ultimately kept schools shut down and children home.

Pringle said public school teachers are “exhausted and increasingly burned out.”

“This crisis is preventing educators from giving their students the one-on-one attention they need,” she continued. “It is forcing them to give up their class planning and lunch time to fill in for colleagues who are out due to COVID. And, it is preventing students from getting the mental health supports needed.”

As the U.S. Census Bureau observed homeschooling is increasing across race groups and ethnicities:

In households where respondents identified as Black or African American (Table 1), the proportion homeschooling increased by five times, from 3.3% (April 23-May 5) to 16.1% in the fall (Sept. 30-Oct. 12). The size of the increases for the other Race/Hispanic origin groups were not statistically different from one another.

“It’s clear that in an unprecedented environment, families are seeking solutions that will reliably meet their health and safety needs, their childcare needs and the learning and socio-emotional needs of their children,” the Census Bureau report noted.

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Susan Berry, PhD, is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Homeschooling” by Jessica Lewis.

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