Homeschooling is the fastest-growing form of education in the United States, far outpacing the rates of growth at public and private schools, according to a new analysis by The Washington Post.
Beginning during the COVID-19 pandemic, the dramatic rise in homeschooling continued through the 2022-23 academic year, and defied predictions that most students would ultimately return to conventional types of schooling. Data from nearly 7,000 school districts nationwide was used in the Post's analysis.
"This is a fundamental change of life, and it's astonishing that it's so persistent," Nat Malkus, a senior fellow and deputy director of education policy at the American Enterprise Institute, told the outlet.
He added that the explosive growth in homeschooling is astonishing, considering the myriad difficulties many parents face to educate their children directly.
"The personal costs to homeschooling are more than just tuition," Malkus said. "They are a restructuring of the way your family works."
The Post found that homeschooling's "surging popularity crosses every measurable line of politics, geography, and demographics."
The data used in the analysis was pulled from 32 states and the District of Columbia, representing more than 60% of school-age children in America. Seven states have unreliable tallies of homeschoolers and 11 states, including Texas, Michigan, Connecticut, and Illinois, do not require parents to notify the state when they decide to educate at home.
Homeschooled students increased 51% over the past six school years in states with comparable enrollment figures, the analysis found — far outpacing the 7% growth in private school enrollment. Public school enrollment fell by 4% in those states over the same period.
There were 1.5 million homeschoolers in the U.S. before the pandemic, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The Post's analysis estimated that there are now between 1.9 million and 2.7 million homeschoolers nationwide.
Just Georgia and Maryland have seen homeschooling return to pre-pandemic levels; in Florida, South Carolina, Louisiana, and South Dakota it has continued to expand.
The homeschool population has grown the fastest in New York State, where it has more than doubled since 2017 to nearly 52,000 children. In New York City, the number of homeschoolers increased by at least 200% over six years in 24 of the city's 33 school districts. In some districts in Brooklyn and the Bronx, homeschooling rates topped increases of 300%.
The Post's analysis could not find a correlation between school district quality and homeschooling growth. Instead, it found that more than 60,000 students were homeschooled last fall in districts that rank in the top fifth in the country for academic achievement.
While the rise in homeschooling has been celebrated by home education advocates, who point to high achievement rates among homeschoolers, it has also led critics to sound the alarm on regulation and oversight.
"Policymakers should think, Wow — this is a lot of kids," Elizabeth Bartholet, emeritus professor at Harvard Law School and child welfare advocate, told the Post. "We should worry about whether they're learning anything."
Nicole Wells, a Newsmax general assignment reporter covers news, politics, and culture. She is a National Newspaper Association award-winning journalist.
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