Reader Submitted Content- Article by Kerry McDonald.
According to an extensive state-level analysis published this week by The Washington Post, homeschooling has increased 51 percent over the previous six academic years—far more than the 7 percent increase in private school enrollment and in stark contrast to the 4 percent decline in public school enrollment during that same period. The Post found that this growth occurred across all demographic, geographic, and ideological lines.
Homeschooling’s growth has outlasted the pandemic response, when many parents pulled their children out of school during a time of prolonged school closures.
The Post analysis “reveals that a dramatic rise in home schooling at the onset of the pandemic has largely sustained itself through the 2022-23 academic year, defying predictions that most families would return to schools that have dispensed with mask mandates and other covid-19 restrictions.”
While recent national figures are not available, and the National Center for Education Statistics hasn’t updated its national estimate of homeschoolers since 2019 when it counted 1.5 million homeschoolers, The Post concludes that between 1.9 and 2.7 million US children are currently homeschooled, compared to about 1.7 million children enrolled in Catholic schools and approximately 3.7 million students in charter schools.
Some areas are seeing particularly high homeschooling rates, according to The Post. Washington, DC and New York State saw the largest increase in homeschoolers since the 2017/2018 school year, with homeschooling numbers up 108 percent and 103 percent, respectively. South Dakota’s homeschooling numbers increased 94 percent and Rhode Island’s numbers are up 91 percent.
In California, homeschooling has increased 78 percent over the past six years. Anecdotally, I am seeing that many of these homeschoolers are enrolling in microschools and learning centers that offer full- and part-time enrollment options at a fraction of the cost of conventional private schools and with much more personalization.
I spent last week in the Los Angeles area visiting some of these schools and spaces, including Alcove Learning in the Boyle Heights neighborhood. Alcove was cofounded by Alexi Burgess, a former philosophy professor at Stanford and UCLA who launched this self-directed microschool for homeschooled tweens and teens in January 2020. It is now at capacity with 30 learners and Alexi is considering expanding to a second location.
While The Post did some pearl-clutching around the possibility that “no government official will ever check on what, or how well, [homeschoolers] are being taught”—soaring homeschooling rates show that more families have become re-empowered to take control of their children’s education from those government officials. Many are rejecting the coercive, one-size-fits-all design of government-run schooling and are instead choosing decentralized, individualized learning models that put learners and families first.
As FEE founder Leonard Read wrote in his classic 1964 essay, The Case for the Free Market in Education: “While one cannot know of the brilliant steps that would be taken by millions of education-conscious parents were they and not the government to have the educational responsibility, one can imagine the great variety of cooperative and private enterprises that would emerge.”
We are now seeing that great variety of cooperative and private enterprises.
It’s an exciting time in education as parents and learners begin to enjoy the variety and choice in education that they enjoy in all other parts of their lives, and everyday entrepreneurs like Alexi create the learning models that today’s families want.