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Homeschooling Surge: Pandemic or Politics?

Photo credit goes to dotmatchbox on Flickr. A license for this photo can be seen here.

Homeschoolers are a historic minority. A mere 1.7% of students between the ages of 5 and 17 were homeschooled in 1999. Homeschooling rates have increased by a few percentile points since then, but in 2020 homeschooling rates skyrocketed. Some states saw 300% increases.

COVID–19 arrangements forced on schools and parents are contributors to the rise homeschooling, certainly–but a growing body on social media have begun to advocate for homeschooling since the inception of The Biden Administration.

And recently, angry parents have been showing up at school board meetings, even pushing a gubernatorial election in favor of Republicans. Perhaps the pandemic isn’t the only vector at play in the homeschooling boom.

The United States Census Bureau published their Household Pulse Survey results earlier this year reporting homeschooling rates doubled from the Spring of 2020 through the Fall. By October 2020, homeschooling rates for the country hit 11.1%–more than 1 out of every 10 students. West Virginia and Florida tripled their rates. Alaska was homeschooling almost a third of students by October, and Massachusetts saw an 800% increase, 1.5% to 12.1%. Massachusetts previously had the lowest homeschooling rates nation-wide.

Race was accounted for, too. Black Americans opted for more homeschooling last year, tripling their rates from 3.3% to 16.1%. Which, follows a narrative that parents are moving their children out of public schools and into the home because they’re dissatisfied; lower income parents are the most concerned about their children falling behind during COVID regulation, according to Pew Research Center.

The pandemic itself has contributed to the homeschooling surge, perhaps with the kids already at home parents are more open to the idea–but they’re also showing up at rallies and school board meetings across the country. Parent protesters are citing idealogical indoctrination and tyrannical COVID regulations as their complaints. Recently, Delaware parents were outraged at finding sexually explicit material at a public school’s library.

Last month, California parents across the state participated in a “sit-out” in response to Newson’s vaccine mandate. Thousands of parents kept their kids from school in hopes of being heard by California school boards. Parent protestors are showing up in New York City, Tennessee and Georgia.

Proponents on the left often cite that Critical Race Theory isn’t taught in schools–but the reactions of parents are saying otherwise. An Illinois man went viral this year after censuring a school board about CRT, “Two medical degrees, no mom no dad in the house. Worked my way through college. Sat there and hustled by butt off to get my way through college. You’re gonna tell me somebody that look like all you white folks kept me from doing that? Are you serious?”

Another mother joined the man at a Virginia school board meeting, “CRT is not an honest dialogue, it is a tactic used by Hitler and the Klu Klux Klan on slaveries very many years ago to dumb down my ancestors so we could not think for ourselves.

Perhaps teachers aren’t teaching the academic nuances of CRT in school, but it doesn’t need to be explicitly taught to be applied. Erec Smith of Free Black Thought calls CRT application “Critical Social Justice”, or CSJ for short.

The professor uses an analogy to describe the absurdity of claiming that CRT isn’t taught in the school system: “Imagine you’re being chased by a rabid lion. As you’re running for your life, you scream ‘Help, I’m being chased by a rabid lion.’ A person with a rifle, who could easily shoot the creature, sees you and hears your cry for help, but says, ‘Actually, that’s not a lion. It’s a leopard. Since you’re being inaccurate, I won’t bother saving you.’ … Would that be an absurd thing to say? Regardless of its label, a rabid, man-eater is chasing you.he published in York Daily Record.

It beings making sense when looking at historical data for the reasoning behind homeschooling. The Institute for Family Studies reports out of the parents who mentioned a reason 68% homeschool to provide “moral instruction”. 67% say they homeschool because of dissatisfaction with academic institutions.

The boom in homeschooling can’t be chalked up to the pandemic exclusively. Rather, public school indoctrination, COVID regulation and parents wanting a better life for their children are influential variables in the phenomenon.


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