The number of U.S. children being homeschooled has doubled since the start of the pandemic from about 2.5 million to five million, representing 11 percent of households nationwide now homeschooling their children.
The reasons are diverse, researchers say, but overall, the shift represents a loss of confidence in U.S. public school systems amid the challenges posed during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a study by Bellwether Education Partners.
Black families represented the largest group to transition to homeschooling, with 16 percent of households now homeschooling – up from 3.3 percent in the spring of 2020.
This compares with 12.1 percent of Hispanic families now homeschooling — up from 6.2 percent before the pandemic; and 9.7 percent of white families now homeschool, up from 5.7 percent last year.
About 8.8 percent of Asian families are homeschooling, up from 4.9 percent in spring 2020.
Of families of other races, 11.6 percent are now homeschooled, compared to 6.2 percent before the pandemic.
The total number of children homeschooled in the US has doubled since the start of the pandemic, from about 2.5 million to five million
The shift is unprecedented as parents have taken a closer look at how their children are raised and have lost confidence in the public school system.
It’s because an unprecedented number of parents have been able to witness their children being raised up close amid distance learning.
Many find that they want more individualized learning options, Alex Spurrier, one of the authors of the Bellwether study, told me. axios.
For families of color, motivations include protecting their children from racism in public schools, as well as lower expectations placed on them, which can negatively impact performance, according to the National Research Institute for Home Education. About 41 percent of homeschooling families are non-white, the institute reported.
Other parents are dissatisfied with the way race issues were taught in public schools during the social justice protests and the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes over the past year.
“As an African American, I didn’t like the way the school handled certain cultural issues,” Torlecia Bates, a mother of three in Richmond, Virginia, who made the transition to homeschooling, told Axios.
Colored families represented the biggest shift to homeschooling as racial and health problems have increased during the pandemic
“Someone asked me when I would be taking my kids back to public school and I said, ‘If I’m in the textbooks, and I’m well and accurately represented.'”
In addition, fears that their children will return to full personal education in the fall of 2021 are higher among parents of color, with 18 percent of black, 17 percent of Hispanic and 12 percent of Asian parents saying they were insecure about or as opposed to sending their children to personal education in the fall.
That’s compared to just 6 percent of white parents, who are either insecure or don’t want to send their kids back to school.
The concern comes as an analysis of the country’s 200 largest school districts indicated that 4.3 million students across the country are in districts in the fall that offer no remote options of any kind, the Bellwether researchers found.
They said they expected fears of the Indian delta variant to boost positivity across the country.
The shift to homeschooling varies across the country, with rates in Massachusetts, for example, jumping from 1.5 percent to 12.1 percent from the start of the 2019-2020 school year to the start of the 2020-2021 school year, according to the U.S. census bureau.
California saw the smallest increase in homeschooling rates at just 0.1 percent, from 8.6 percent to 8.7 percent.
The phenomenon doesn’t even happen nationwide, with Massachusetts posting a 12.1 percent increase in homeschooling compared to California, which posted a 0.1 percent increase.
The Bellwether researchers said they expect the homeschooling phenomenon to continue, noting that 51 percent of black families and 44 percent of Hispanic families are interested in forming homeschool learning pods.
And it’s not just the number of children being homeschooled that has increased during the pandemic.
Over the past 18 months, more families have also seen their children’s schools change, both in the public and private sectors.
About 15 percent of families changed their children’s schools, up 50 percent from pre-pandemic levels, the Bellwether study found, and the total of 8.7 million children across the country have changed schools.
In addition, they expect the transfer rate for the 2021-2022 school year to rise to 20 percent.
In general, education experts believe that the American public school system needs to work to get the lost students back in the fold
“Parents want more personalization, and this seems like a trend that will continue,” Romy Drucker, director of education at the Walton Family Foundation, told Axios.
‘Schools will have to regain the trust of parents.’