Between May and October 2020, homeschooling more than doubled among U.S. households with school-age children, from 5.4 percent that spring to 11.1 percent that fall, according to new Census Bureau data.
Black and Hispanic Americans were the most likely to switch to homeschooling, while white and Asian Americans were the least likely. This could be due to the fact that African-American children are the most likely to be financially locked into poor-quality school districts, or that black Americans have been the most likely to exhibit COVID caution, or some combination.
All demographics reported large increases in homeschooling between spring and fall 2020, but black Americans increased homeschooling the most, quintupling from 3.3. percent to 16.1 percent.
The data show wide differences among states in the 2020 homeschooling surge. Families in Alaska showed the largest homeschooling increase, from 9.6 percent to 27. 5 percent, a 17-point jump. Florida went from 5 percent to 18 percent homeschoolers, and Vermont went from 4 percent to 17 percent homeschoolers, in the second- and third-largest homeschooling jumps by states in 2020, respectively.
Other states that saw 10 percent or more increases in homeschooling were: Massachusetts (from 1.5 to 12.1 percent), Mississippi (from 3 to 14 percent), Montana (from 8 to 18 percent), Nevada (from 2.5 to 13.1 percent), Oklahoma (from 7.7 to 20 percent), Vermont (from 4 to 17 percent), and West Virginia (from 5.4 to 16.6 percent). Homeschooling in New York increased seven-fold, from 1.2 to 10.1 percent, quadrupled in Kansas, tripled in Connecticut and North Dakota, and more than doubled in Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Wisconsin.
It seems pretty clear that their experiences governors and local governments constantly changing the rules and expectations in spring 2020, plenty of parents decided they were not going through that insanity again in the fall. Even when schools did open in person, would you send your child to a place that looks like this photo from a February 2021 Wall Street Journal story about Chicago schools? It looks like some kind of a dystopian novel. Or a prison.
Since lockdowns and the great school unsettling began, however, Congress has been showering deficit-funded billions on public schools that were largely closed to in-person instruction and hemorrhaging students. “Congress has included more than $192 billion for K-12 schools — roughly six times the amount of the fiscal year 2021 base federal funding — in the three big Covid relief bills passed since last March,” notes a recent CNN story. “Each piece of legislation sent more money to K-12 schools than the last.”
While Congress sends more money to support institutions that have horribly mismanaged their response to the COVID outbreak, public support has grown for instead giving parents more control and flexibility over education spending instead of relegating families to one-size-fits-nobody institutions. One April poll found among its highest support ever for school choice via parental control of education tax dollars, at 71 percent of respondents. A different poll that has measured public opinion on schooling monthly since the beginning of the lockdowns shows similarly high support for parent-directed education in its latest results.
The latter poll, from the organization EdChoice, also found 64 percent of respondents saying their opinion of homeschooling has become more positive “as a result of the coronavirus,” with just 21 percent saying COVID has made them less positive about homeschooling.
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