There’s no better sign of success than an escalation in attacks by your enemies. Based on such evidence, homeschooling is enjoying a boom, as growing numbers of families with diverse backgrounds, philosophies, and approaches abandon government-controlled schools in favor of taking responsibility for their own children’s education. As they do so, they’re coming under assault from officials panicking over the number of people slipping from their grasp.
There’s little doubt that homeschooling is an increasingly popular option. “From 1999 to 2012, the percentage of students who were homeschooled doubled, from an estimated 1.7 percent to 3.4 percent,” reports the National Center for Education Statistics. While the government agency suggests that growth has leveled off since then, other researchers say data is hard to come by, since many states simply don’t count people who homeschool.
“While the overall school-age population in the United States grew by about 2.0 percent from spring 2012 to spring 2016, data from 16 states from all four major regions of the nation showed that homeschooling grew by an average of about 25 percent in those states,” counters the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), in response to NCES figures. “If the data from these states are representative of what happened in the other states during those four years, then homeschooling is continuing to grow in both absolute numbers and as a portion of the overall school-age population.”
Just shy of eight percent of North Carolina students are homeschooled for example, in a state in which traditional public schools are bleeding students year after year to charter schools, private schools, and homeschooling.
Unsurprisingly, as the numbers of homeschooled kids grow, their ranks expand beyond the niche populations—religious families, in particular—that originally rejected public schools. Only 16 percent of survey respondents now say they started homeschooling to provide religious instruction, says the NCES, while 34 percent report “concern about the school environment, such as safety, drugs, or negative peer pressure,” and others cited “dissatisfaction with academic instruction.”