Homeschooling families have not only thrived in the face of attacks by progressive government bureaucrats and teachers’ unions, they have also increased in numbers.
Despite opposition from teachers’ unions and government bureaucrats’ attempts to regulate them, homeschooling families in the United States are flourishing.
In West Virginia, as the statewide teachers strike captivated the attention of the mainstream media, parents were pulling their children out of public schools to educate them at home.
“I’ve seen a shift in how people view homeschool, for sure,” Kathie Hess Crouse, a board member for the West Virginia Home Educator’s Association, told WVNEWS.com. “Just personally, I have seen that with a lot of my friends because I’m so open about how we homeschool. So many people think that public school is the only way to go until they meet someone who has actually homeschooled their kid.”
According to the news report, during the 2015-2016 academic year, the number of homeschooled children topped those in private school, 11,000 to 10,405. It is likely, however, the number of homeschoolers is even higher, since West Virginia is among those states that have backed off regulations for families who educate at home.
A measure passed in the state legislature in 2016 now allows parents to notify their local superintendent only once of their intention to educate at home, rather than each year.
Crouse said Democrats generally oppose the homeschooling community who “tend to be backed by the unions,” which continue to press for increased funding for schools and teacher pay.
Homeschooling parents, however, are focused on educating their own children in the way they know is best for them.
“When it comes down to it, we’re worried about our own children first and foremost,” Crouse said. “As much as I’m sorry that the school system probably lost thousands because I pulled my two students out, that’s not my concern. If the school system had done a better job, I may have stayed in.”
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) found that in 2012, an estimated 1.8 million, or 3.4 percent of students aged 5-17, were being homeschooled in the United States, up from 3 percent in 2007 and 2.2 percent in 2003. In the ten-year period between 2003 to 2012, the number of homeschooled children rose 61.8 percent.
In 2017, NCES said the percentage of homeschooled children “appears to have leveled off” at 3.3 percent for 2016.
However, many familiar with homeschooling emphasize the numbers are estimates and there are likely more homeschooled students than reported.
William Heuer, a board member of the Massachusetts Home Learning Association, wrote at the Hechinger Report in 2017 that the number of homeschooled children in the entire United States likely topped the two million mark in 2016, indicating that more American students are now homeschooled than even enrolled in parochial schools.
According to NCES:
The most important reason for homeschooling in 2016 was “concern about the school environment, such as safety, drugs, or negative peer pressure,” reported by 34 percent of parents of homeschooled students. (This was also the most commonly reported reason selected by parents in 2012.) Other reasons cited as most important by families of homeschooled students in 2016 were dissatisfaction with academic instruction at other schools (17 percent of homeschooled students’ parents) and a desire to provide religious instruction (16 percent).
Homeschoolers continue to be attacked – and some report “scapegoated” – in some states following incidents of heinous abuse by parents who removed their children from public schools under the guise of homeschooling.
In California, homeschoolers won after over a thousand of them traveled to Sacramento to defeat a bill that sought first to mandate fire inspections of their homes and then to demand private information about the names and addresses of homeschooling families.
The bill was proposed following the horrific case of the Turpin parents who said they were homeschooling their children when all the while they were torturing and starving them.
Similarly, in Connecticut, government bureaucrats are attempting to regulate homeschooling families following a case of abuse by a parent who was ultimately arrested in the death of her son. The mother, who had been the subject of concern by the school district and child protection services, never actually withdrew her son from school, but simply did not send him.
“Homeschooling parents will not be the scapegoats for the failure and incompetence of these agencies,” said Deborah Stevenson, attorney with National Home Education Legal Defense, at a state hearing. “Homeschoolers are not going to be the scapegoats for the failed child protection system, not going to be scapegoats for the failed educational system, and not going to be scapegoats for the failed judicial system.”