Op Ed: Homeschooling is booming | National

One of the few silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic is the fact that more American families are saying good riddance to public schools and hello to homeschooling.

According to a new report by the U.S. Census Bureau, “In the first week (April 23-May 5) of Phase 1 of the Household Pulse Survey, about 5.4% of US households with school-aged children reported homeschooling. By fall, 11.1% of households with school-age children reported homeschooling (Sept. 30-Oct. 12). … That change represents an increase of 5.6 percentage points and a doubling of US households that were homeschooling at the start of the 2020-2021 school year compared to the prior year.”

And, as the report notes, “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.”

In other words, due to the fact that public schools throughout the nation refused to offer in-person learning under the guise of the pandemic, parents are taking their children’s education into their own hands, literally.

What’s more, this is primarily occurring among minorities. Per the report, “In households where respondents identified as Black or African American, the proportion of homeschooling increased by five times, from 3.3% (April 23-May 5) to 16.1% in the fall (Sept. 30-Oct. 12) .”

Among Hispanic households, the proportion of homeschooling doubled.

White and Asian households also experienced a large increase in homeschooling, though not seen to the degree in Black and Hispanic households.

Interestingly, the popularity in homeschooling among Black and Hispanic families also coincides with a surge in support for school choice among these groups.

According to the latest poll from the American Federation for Children (AFC), “African Americans and Latinos remain very enthusiastic supporters of school choice. This year, 74% of African Americans favor school choice, and 71% of Latinos support school choice.”

As John Schilling, president of AFC, explains, “Once again, this polling confirms that parents are waking up and taking the reins when it comes to their child’s education. The pandemic showed all of us how inflexible truly schools are and parents took it upon themselves to place their children in places that best fit them. It is very clear that families are desperate for education alternatives.” Really.

School choice and homeschooling are gaining prominence because many parents are facing the fact that America’s public schools, by and large, are simply incapable of properly educating their children.

For instance, in Baltimore, one third of the city’s public high schools had zero students test to state proficiency in math for the 2017-18 school year. Unfortunately, Baltimore’s atrocious public schools are more the norm than the exception, especially in most inner cities.

No wonder minority households overwhelmingly support school choice and/or homeschooling. The vast majority of public schools in their neighborhoods are utterly failing to provide basic educational services.

As the Census Bureau survey concludes, “It’s clear that in an unprecedented environment, families are seeking solutions that will reliably meet their health and safety needs, their childcare needs and the learning and socio-emotional needs of their children.”

The solution is simple: more school choice, including homeschooling.

Chris Talgo (ctalgo@heartland.org) is a former public high school teacher and senior editor at The Heartland Institute.

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