The number of home school applications submitted to the California Department of Education (DOE) soared during the 2020–2021 school year, state data indicates.
There were 34,715 private school affidavits (PSAs) for five children or less submitted during the most recent curricular year. In California, homeschools are recognized as private schools, and homeschooling families are required to submit an affidavit to the DOE annually.
The most recent homeschool figures are more than twice as high as they were during the 2018–2019 school year, when 14,548 PSAs were filed. There were 22,433 PSAs filed during the 2019–2020 school year.
“People are just really dissatisfied with the performance of the regular public schools during the COVID crisis,” Lance Izumi, a senior director of the Center for Education at the Pacific Research Institute and author of the upcoming book on homeschooling, “Voices from Home,” told The Epoch Times.
Izumi said California’s increase in homeschooling is part of a nationwide trend.
Between spring and fall of 2020, the percentage of homeschoolers nationwide more than doubled, jumping from 5.4 percent to 11.1 percent in less than four months.
The numbers refer to true homeschooling and don’t include distance learning at a public or private school.
The largest increase in homeschoolers was especially notable among minority groups, including black and Hispanic learners.
In African American households, the proportion of homeschooling quintupled from 3.3 percent in spring 2020, to 16.1 percent in fall 2020.
In Hispanic households, the number of homeschooling households doubled in the same time, from 6.2 percent to 12.1 percent.
Izumi said many black and Hispanic kids were reportedly performing the poorest academically prior to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus pandemic.
Once the CCP virus pandemic occurred, those students fell behind even further, Izumi said.
“A lot of minority parents—African American, Hispanic parents—who weren’t very satisfied with the public schools before COVID, are now especially dissatisfied with the public schools because their kids are just not doing well in this distance learning situation that the regular public schools have tried to force on everybody,” he said.
Many parents are unhappy with the quality of the distance learning their children received during the past year’s school closures, Izumi said.
“Remote learning has not worked for a lot of parents,” Izumi said. “I think that they feel that their kids are not getting the type of education and learning that they should be getting, and a lot of their kids are really suffering because of huge learning losses.”
Izumi said another reason parents are opting to home school is that they worry about “indoctrination in the classroom.”
Due to distance learning, many parents had the chance to “look over the shoulder” of their children and have been “alarmed” to find out they were learning critical race theory, a Marxist-based ideology that divides society into oppressors and the oppressed based on characteristics such as race, sex, class, or sexual proclivities.
“Parents see that as causing division … that is causing social and emotional harm to those kids,” Izumi said. “One way that parents can control what their children are learning is to homeschool.”
Izumi said parents choose homeschooling over private schools because it’s cheaper; and homeschooling over charters due to convenience, as charters only make up about one in 10 public schools in the state.
“If you don’t have the money for private school, and there isn’t a charter school nearby that may provide a better alternative for your child, then really the only thing left for you is homeschooling,” he said.
Izumi wanted to assure parents that homeschooling is “more feasible than people think,” since there are many different types of homeschooling that can accommodate different families.
Despite the state’s emergency restrictions easing and schools announcing a return to in-person learning in the fall, Izumi said this may be the beginning of a new era for homeschooling.
“My prediction is that this increase is something that you’re going to see continue in the future. … When parents find out that actually, they can do it, and that they do have greater control [over their children’s education], other parents are going to see that, and you’re going to have a snowball effect.”