Parents across the nation abruptly became de facto home educators this spring, when the coronavirus pandemic disrupted school-as-usual. Buildings were shuttered, courses were moved online, and children were sent home with extensive lesson plans and an assignment for their parents: emergency homeschooling.
Heading into a new school year, with districts adopting new plans for in-person, hybrid, and online education, many families are considering homeschooling on a more permanent basis. A national poll conducted by RealClear Opinion Research found 40 percent of families are more likely to homeschool because of their experiences during the pandemic. At the National Home School Association (NHSA), the phone hasn’t stopped ringing since June, and the email inbox has been hitting its capacity daily.
“It has just been explosive growth,” said NHSA executive director J. Allen Weston. Though the NHSA includes secular and religious families, it partnered with the popular evangelical company Abeka for a summer webinar catering to first-time homeschoolers. The association projected it would reach one million paying members by September.
Homeschooling numbers were rising before 2020. The percentage of school-age children taught at home in the United States rose from 1.6 in 1999 to 3.3 in 2016, the most recent numbers available from the US Department of Education. Much of the growth has come from “urban secular families . . . who want more freedom and flexibility,” according to Kerry McDonald, senior education fellow at the Foundation for Economic Education. While evangelicals remain a significant part of the homeschool landscape, today only 16 percent say the most important reason to homeschool is religious instruction, ...1
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