Written by apnews.com
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.
Homeschooling numbers this year dipped from last year’s all-time high, but are still significantly above pre-pandemic levels, according to data obtained and analyzed by The Associated Press.
Families that may have turned to homeschooling as an alternative to hastily assembled remote learning plans have stuck with it — reasons include health concerns, disagreement with school policies and a desire to keep what has worked for their children.
In 18 states that shared data through the current school year, the number of homeschooling students increased by 63 percent in the 2020-2021 school year, then fell by only 17 percent in the 2021-2022 school year.
Around three percent of U.S. students were homeschooled before the pandemic-induced surge, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The rising numbers have cut into public school enrollment in ways that affect future funding and renewed debates over how closely homeschooling should be regulated.
What remains unknown is whether this year’s small decrease signals a step toward pre-pandemic levels — or a sign that homeschooling is becoming more mainstream.
Linda McCarthy, a suburban Buffalo mother of two, says her children are never going back to traditional school.
Unimpressed with the lessons offered remotely when schools abruptly closed their doors in spring 2020, she began homeschooling her then fifth- and seventh-grade children that fall. McCarthy, who had been working as a teacher’s aide, said she knew she could do better herself. She said her children have thrived with lessons tailored to their interests, learning styles and schedules.
“There’s no more homework ’til the wee hours of the morning, no more tears because we couldn’t get things done,” McCarthy said.
Once a relatively rare practice chosen most often for reasons related to instruction on religion, homeschooling grew rapidly in popularity following the turn of the century before leveled off at around 3.3 percent, or about 2 million students, in the years before the pandemic, according to the Census. Surveys have indicated factors including dissatisfaction with neighborhood schools, concerns about school environment and the appeal of customizing an education.
In the absence of federal guidelines, there is little uniformity in reporting requirements. Some states, including Connecticut and Nevada, require little or no information from parents, while New York, Massachusetts and some others require parents to submit instruction plans and comply with assessment rules.
The new surge in homeschooling numbers has led state legislatures around the country to consider measures either to ease regulations on homeschool families or impose new ones — debates have gone on for years. Proponents of more oversight point to the potential for undetected cases of child abuse and neglect while others argue for less in the name of parental rights.
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. (The exception, South Dakota, recently changed the way it collects data).
Minnesota, for example, reported that 27,801 students are being homeschooled now, compared to 30,955 during the last school year. Before the pandemic, homeschool figures were around 20,000 or less.
Black families make up many of the homeschool converts. The proportion of Black families homeschooling their children increased by five times, from 3.3% to 16.1%, from spring 2020 to the fall, while the proportion about doubled across other groups, according to U.S. Census surveys.
Raleigh, North Carolina, mother Laine Bradley said the school system’s shortcomings became more evident to families like hers when remote learning began.
“I think a lot of Black families realized that when we had to go to remote learning, they realized exactly what was being taught. And a lot of that doesn’t involve us,” said Bradley, who decided to homeschool her 7-, 10- and 11-year-old children. “My kids have a lot of questions about different things. I’m like, ‘Didn’t you learn that in school?’ They’re like, ‘No.’”
Bradley, who works in financial services, converted her dining room into a classroom and rearranged her work schedule to take over her children’s education, adding lessons on financial literacy, Black history and Caribbean history important to her heritage.
“I can incorporate things that I feel like they should know,” she said. Her husband, Vince, who retired from the Air Force last year, steps in at times. The couple also have a 14-month-old. They plan to continue homeschooling for as long as their children want it. Her social media posts about her experience have drawn so much interest that Bradley recently created an online community called Black Moms Do Homeschool to share resources and experiences.
Boston University researcher Andrew Bacher-Hicks said data showed that while homeschool rates rose across the board during the last school year, the increase was greater in school districts that reverted to in-person learning, perhaps before some parents were ready to send their children back.
This will be an interesting experiment to watch. US education is more like “indoctrination” than education, controlled as it is by government entities, local, state, and federal. Taxes to support the education system account for the largest percentages of property taxes in Georgia, at least, over fifty percent.
My community has gone on a building spree, especially of school buildings. What will happen if those school buildings don’t have enough students to justify the overhead?
As a product of the traditional system, I do acknowledge advantages, such as introduction to fields of knowledge I might not have encountered with home schooling or private tutors. If my parents were weak or uninterested in certain areas, it might have been easy to neglect them, or even to remain completely unaware of them.
We shall see.
We have a very active “unschooling” group here in New Plymouth, in which parent undertaked homeschooling in groups. This ensures home school students have an active social life, while being exposed to a wide variety of information.
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Good idea. I wonder if the US is flexible enough to think along those lines.
I would hate to be a parent of school-aged kids nowadays. I have said so many times the last few years, that my Daddy would have gone to the school and kicked some school-board ass! And that was before drag-queen story time began. After drag-queen storytime began, he would have gone up to the school with his war buddies, and they would have shut the damned place down.
Those people are crazy. How the curriculum in the schools are, teaching 4-5 year olds how to give blow jobs? And what vibrators are, and how to use them? Teaching then about anal sex? What ever happened to the sweet innocence of children?
Hell, kids are not allowed to be kids anymore. You have teachers and sickos trying to convince them to change genders at such a young age, that the rest of their miserable lives are going to be so fucked up, they are not going to be able to have any semblance of a normal life. What kind of adults are these kids going to be? A lot of the male mass-murderers complained that their mothers were whores – as in prostitutes, and street whores. What are these kids going to be when they grow up?
Trust me, I would be homeschooling my kids too. Then you have the govt. telling parents that their children belong to the whole community, that the kids aren’t their kids, they are the communities kids. Hell, once the community starts paying for the kids, maybe. But by God…
Sorry you got me going on a rant now…
Speaking of God. With all the pedophiles running around, on top of the teaching very very young kids how to give blow jobs and to have anal sex, you have to know, that God is not going to let this go. History shows time and again, when society gets too out of hand, God will step in. Look at ancient Rome. They had gotten way out of hand, with orgies, and murders, and all that. God did step in.
He will again. The children are the innocents. Now these sickos have come for the children. Teh schools have gone along with it. I have seen what some of the teachers are doing, and I tell you what, I am surprised a thunderbolt has not come flying out of the sky!
I don’t know where this will end up, but I don’t want to be in the way, when whatever happens, happens. After all, the President of the US bathed with his daughter when she was very young, and according to her diary, touched her where he should not have touched her. You see him around children, sniffing their hair, and telling stories about kids rubbing the hair on his legs. That man is sick too. His son is just like him. The apple don’t fall far from the tree. But God must be really disappointed in the people that elected that man.
Now with Russia, and the Socialist Leader Biden going at each other’s throats, we might find out very soon where God stands on all this. Putin has promised he will nuke us, and I have no doubt that he will. While our Supreme Socialist Leader stands there saying that Putin should not be allowed to live, and sending Billions upon Billions of our hard earned tax money to Ukraine to fight against Putin. Putin sees the war he started as a religious war. Plus he is fighting the remaining Nazis. He will absolutely nuke us.
Ok, I got my two cents in…
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I share your feelings, nootkabear. There is no way I would send my children to public schools the way they currently operate.
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nootkabear, would you mind if I posted your comment in its entirety on my blog? Your comment is SO on point, it ain’t even funny. I, too, am glad that I don’t have children in school these days because I would be just like your daddy was. I have never in all my born days witness such horrific, debased, vile and sickening mess take place. And it is ALL sanctioned by a government that is supposed to serve “We The People” since our tax dollars are paying the salary of ALL government employees as well as the salaries of the politicians.
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Yes of course, please post in entirety. I would be honored.
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