US Surge in Homeschooling Sparked by More Than Pandemic

By Dave Paone
Dave Paone
Dave Paone
Dave Paone covers New York City.
October 8, 2021Updated: October 12, 2021

Because of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, there’s been a surge in homeschooling in the United States.

The U.S. Census Bureau conducted what it calls its “experimental Household Pulse Survey,” described on the bureau’s website as “the first data source to offer both a national and state-level look at the impact of COVID-19 on homeschooling rates.”

The survey shows “a substantial increase” in homeschooling from spring 2020 to the start of the school year the following fall. These dates coincide with the start of the pandemic.

But the surge didn’t end there. In March, the agency reported that the number of households with at least one homeschooled child more than doubled to 11.1 percent from 5.4 percent.

Why the dramatic increase?

“COVID last year was the No. 1 reason people started to homeschool,” according to Steve Duvall, the director of research at the Home School Legal Defense Association in Virginia. “That made a lot of people try this for the first time.”

Epoch Times Photo
Colin, 10, whose school was closed following the CCP virus outbreak, does schoolwork at home in Washington on March 20, 2020. (Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images)

Sandra Kim, the association’s media relations manager, added that the health risks the CCP virus poses to children in a school setting prompted parents to take on homeschooling.

“A lot of parents are unsure about the vaccine for their child,” Kim said. “So that might be another factor going forward, as we’re seeing things like mandates, starting from California.”

Duvall said for the past 20 years or so, the leading reason for homeschooling was poor school safety. That has fallen in importance, while increased flexibility and more one-on-one attention have gained to become the No. 2 and No. 3 factors, respectively, he said, citing statistics from a Hanover Research survey.

Brian Ray, who holds a doctorate in philosophy and is a co-founder of the National Home Education Research Institute in Oregon, agrees there’s been “significant” growth in homeschooling, although he feels the bureau’s statistics are flawed for several reasons. He also believes its numbers are being misinterpreted.

“The Census Bureau did not say the number of homeschooled children doubled. They said the number of adults living with a homeschooled child about doubled,” he said.

Ray accumulated data from several sources and came up with his own estimated number of U.S. homeschooled students. He “mixed it up in the mathematical pot,” and concluded that there are roughly 3.721 million students being homeschooled in the current school year.

The previous school year had an estimated 2.2 million to 2.5 million homeschooled students.

Mother helping her daughter with her homework
One of the benefits of homeschooling is that it can be designed to cater to the needs of each individual student. (Shutterstock)

Ray believes U.S. public schools didn’t offer the infrastructure, or even the know-how, to produce effective remote learning during the lockdowns. That, in turn, caused part of the surge.

He also believes that critical race theory and the LGBTQIA-plus push are additional factors.

He said parents perceive, or believe, “that critical race theory is being forcefully introduced throughout the schools,” and “they think it’s way over the top, a form of indoctrination.”

“There’s been an accelerated push for sexuality philosophy and theory into every field of what’s being taught in public schools,” he said. “Parents, whether they’re progressive, conservative, libertarian, they’re tired of that.”

“Right now, it doesn’t seem like the growth of homeschooling is slowing down any,” said Duvall. “It doesn’t look like the end is in sight.”

Dave Paone covers New York City.