Government officials’ responses to health concerns (Covid), including restrictive lockdowns, forced about 50 million more US schoolchildren into school at home during the spring of 2020. This includes remote learning from public schools and a move toward homeschooling.
According to the U.S. Census, among all K-12 students in the United States, 11.1%, or at least 5 million, are being homeschooled. According to the National Education Research Institute (NHERI), the homeschool population had been growing steadily at an estimated 2% to 8% per year but grew exponentially from 2019-2020 to 2020-2021.
The percentage of children being homeschooled has nearly tripled since mid-2019. By May of 2021, the U.S. Census Bureau found more than 1 out of every 12 students were being homeschooled. See the growth in the chart below and learn more here.
Covid has wreaked havoc on virtually every aspect of America’s public schools, and now parents are pulling their kids out of the system altogether.
Districts in the country with the most remote classes lost 4.4% of their students, compared to a 1.1% drop for those who held school in person, according to a national survey by the American Enterprise Institute and the College Crisis Initiative at Davidson College.
- New York saw the most significant drop in enrollment statewide from 2020 to 2022, with a nearly 6% decline.
- Enrollment in New York City’s public schools, the country’s largest school district, dropped by 9.5% over two years, the Washington Post reports.
- Public school enrollment in California, for the first time in two decades, fell below six million this academic year, per statewide data.
See this decline in the chart here.
Though the recent reason for the drop in public school enrollments and rise in homeschooling has been Covid, this does not explain the steady rise in homeschooling prior to Covid. National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) conducts a survey that provides the most comprehensive data we have on parents’ motivations for homeschooling. See the top reasons parents have chosen to homeschool and learn more here.
The reasons stated in this survey have not gotten better and demonstratively worse for many parents. Perhaps many parents were thinking prior to Covid to undertake homeschooling but didn’t quite have the motivation. Covid provided that motivation. The point here is that many that left the public school system are not coming back.
With school funding directly tied to enrollment, experts warn that the decline in students may carry deeper repercussions, with some schools potentially forced to close completely. K-12 education in America in the past has been fairly ubiquitous. This will no doubt change in the future.
Public schools will have a wide variety of quality. Private schools could also be a challenge – especially in terms of costs. Consistency in homeschooling will also become a challenge as parents have far less oversight. With the move to less testing of students, it will be difficult to tell.
What this means for the broader society and economy remains to be seen. However, the thinking may mean that it will further divide the nation as the quality of education and curriculum agendas tend to prevail.
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RWR original article syndication source.