Falling public school enrollment mirrors homeschooling boom

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Student enrollment in public schools has plummeted as parental disgust with school policies against COVID-19, student learning losses and controversial education policies have soared. As a result of this enrollment implosion, homeschooling has exploded across the country.

At the start of the current school year, the US Department of Education estimated that 1.5 million students had left public schools since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If students do not enroll in public schools, where do they go? Figures show that many former public school students are now homeschooled.

The US Census Bureau found that the percentage of homeschooled households more than doubled in 2020, from 5% in the spring to 11% in the fall.

In Virginia in 2019-20, approximately 38,000 children were homeschooled. A year later, in 2020-21, state data showed the number had risen to nearly 60,000.

According to a recent study by the University of Michigan, from 2020 to 2021, public school enrollment in Michigan fell by nearly 46,000 students, representing a drop of more than 3%. Among kindergarten children, there was a drop of more than 11%.

The study found that homeschooling rates increased significantly in fall 2020, with homeschooling accounting for “the majority of Michigan students who have not returned to the public system.” Importantly, the study noted that “national home schooling trends follow a similar pattern.”

The rise in homeschoolers isn’t just coming from a narrow segment of the US population. An analysis by the University of Washington Bothell found that “the diversity of students at home in the United States mirrors the diversity of all students nationally, including all racial, religious, political and ethnic groups. revenue.

For example, the Census Bureau found that among African American households, the increase in homeschooling was much stronger than in the country as a whole, rising from 3% to 16%, a five-fold jump.

This increase in African-American homeschooling is not surprising given recent McKinsey & Company research that found that “students in majority-black schools ended homeschooling. [2020-21 school] year with six months of unfinished learning.

Demetria Zinga, one of the country’s top African American homeschool YouTubers, said, “I believe homeschooling is growing and exploding among African Americans, and there will be more and more students at home.”

She believes that this growth will be facilitated by “more resources available, in general, but also with regard to the African-American community, in particular, especially online which makes homeschooling easier for people”.

Homeschooling mom Magda Gomez, an immigrant from Mexico, has become an advocate for homeschooling in the Hispanic community.

She observes, “We Hispanics, as a culture, are generally very protective and loving of our children. However, I explain that love is not enough to raise our children. We need to educate ourselves in different areas [of education]especially since we are not in our [native] country, but are immigrants.

“It’s my dream,” she says, “to see more Hispanic families homeschooling.” His dream is coming true with the doubling of homeschooling among Hispanic households, from 6% to 12%.

In addition to the racial diversity of homeschoolers, in 2021 school choice organization EdChoice found: “Many parents of children with autism, ADHD and other neurodevelopmental disorders report that public schools cannot effectively meet the specialized learning needs of their child.

Unlike the rigid structure that schools often impose on children with special needs, homeschooling allows parents to meet the unique needs of their children.

Jackie Nunes, a pediatric nurse and homeschool mom, unenrolled her special-needs daughter from public school, saying, “There just weren’t enough things that mattered: time, attention, patience, perseverance, passion, support.

Seeing the growth of homeschooling, Yvonne Bunn, Virginia Homeschooling Manager, says, “I think this will definitely change the education landscape. I don’t think it will ever come back like before. »

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed all the flaws of one-size-fits-all public schools, which is why the homeschooling boom is shaking up American education.

• Lance Izumi is Senior Director of the Center for Education at the Pacific Research Institute. He is the author of the new book The Homeschool Boom: Pandemic, Policies, and Possibilities.

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