The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted many things here in America. As every parent knows, one of the major disruptions took place in the realm of education. News has been coming out that among the disruptions in education has been the number of parents choosing to homeschool their kids. Now, we’re not talking about the quasi-homeschooling that all kids experienced when their schools closed and all the kids went to Zoom School. We’re talking about folks who have decided to unenroll their students from public or private school and teach their children themselves, most using a curriculum and resources crafted for homeschooling.
In March, the Census Bureau released results of their Household Pulse Survey. The Survey said…
By fall, 11.1% of households with school-age children reported homeschooling (Sept. 30-Oct. 12). A clarification was added to the school enrollment question to make sure households were reporting true homeschooling rather than virtual learning through a public or private school.
That change represents an increase of 5.6 percentage points and a doubling of U.S. households that were homeschooling at the start of the 2020-2021 school year compared to the prior year.
In Georgia, the Survey additionally reported that a staggering 16% of households were homeschooling last fall. This is also the number of African-American households homeschooling nationwide (up from 3% pre-pandemic!). It will be interesting to see if data for the 2021-2022 school year reflects a return to public and private schools as school buildings reopen, or if these parents decide to continue homeschooling.
The reasons people choose homeschooling vary. Joyce Burgess of the National Black Homeschool Association explains why some African-Americans are choosing to homeschool:
“They’re making these conclusions that peer pressure, they don’t have to be bothered with unnecessary racism, they don’t have to be bothered with bullying, they don’t have to be bothered with negative peer pressure. Some parents have chosen to bring their children home because the virtual setting, some parents just aren’t able to navigate that,” said Burgess.
A recent guest post in Bari Weiss’ Substack provides further insight to why some parents chose homeschooling.
When the covid lockdowns hit in March 2020 — in a matter of a few weeks, some 124,000 public and private schools with 55.1 million students shut down — American families suddenly had to adjust to school-via-screen.
The parents weren’t just upset about all the screen time their kids were logging. They were upset about what they saw on those screens. For the first time, millions of moms and dads could watch, in real time, their children’s teachers teaching.
It was a moment of “parent empowerment,” said Kerry McDonald, a senior fellow at the libertarian Foundation for Economic Education. That’s one way to put it.
Here’s another: “My kindergartener was getting maybe twenty minutes of instruction per day,” said Pauline, a house cleaner in Durham, North Carolina, who prefers using only her middle name to stay anonymous.
Pauline and her child lasted about two weeks in remote school before she decided it was a waste of everyone’s time. After a summer of lockdown, Pauline opted for a “homeschool co-op” with four other families. She was planning to send her now seven-year-old back to public school this year. “Being isolated made my kid miserable,” she said. “And I like public school. I was excited to send my kid there.”
The Delta variant, combined with her husband’s asthma, and the fact that there is no vaccine requirement for teachers in her district threw a wrench in that plan. What started as a short-term solution has morphed into a new normal.
As my colleague Jamie Lord and I recently discussed, this demonstrates the real beauty of the concept of school choice: whether you want kids masked, or unmasked, have your school teach a certain curriculum or not, all parents, no matter their income status or location, should have choices in how and where their kid is educated.
We at the Georgia Center for Opportunity will continue to fight for the right of all parents to choose the best method of educating their children.