A survey by the Census Bureau found that the number of households reporting that they teach at home has doubled in the past year. Eric Baradat / AFP via Getty Images Hide caption
Eric Baradat / AFP via Getty Images
Eric Baradat / AFP via Getty Images
In a year where so much has changed about schooling, add this to the list: a significant increase in the number of households where students have been home schooled.
This is according to Data from the US Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, an online poll that asks questions about how the pandemic is changing lives in US households.
When the survey began the week of April 23 to May 5, 2020, 5.4% of US households with school-age children said they had homeschooled.
This number had increased by autumn: 11.1% of households with school-age children stated that they had taught at home from September 30 to October 30. 12 survey. The Census Bureau states that this number is twice the number of households teaching at home at the start of the 2019-2020 school year.
Homeschooling rates rose most dramatically among those who identified themselves as black. The proportion of black homeschoolers has quintupled, from 3.3% in late spring to 16.1% in autumn.
And there were significant differences between states. In Alaska, Florida, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma, Vermont, and West Virginia, the number of schoolchildren in households increased by at least 9%. Many other states meanwhile showed no significant change.
Possible reasons for this deviation, according to the presidium, are local rates of coronavirus infections and local decisions about the conduct of the school.
A look at the data
Before we go any further, a few words about the dates. The Household Pulse Survey uses a large, nationally representative sample of US households.
The Census Bureau notes that “a clarification” was added to the survey between May and September “to highlight the distinction between homeschooling and virtual schooling”. However, a spokesman for the Bureau was unable to provide the before-and-after language.
ON February 25, 2021, version of the poll NPR is asked the question like this:
“At any time during the 2020-2021 school year, will children in this household be enrolled in a public school, enrolled in a private school, or being taught in a homeschool setting in kindergarten through 12th grade or equivalent? Select all that apply.
– Yes, enrolled in a public or private school
– Yes, homeschooled
– no “
Christopher Lubienski, professor of education policy at Indiana University, noted some potential complications with this data.
First, what counts as homeschooling? “For example, if you add what your children get from their regular school or from an online school, are you still homeschooling?” Says Lubienski. “It’s a matter of definition.”
With parents and carers currently taking on many of the educational roles normally played by teachers in normal times, “homeschooling” has certainly taken place in many households where students were enrolled in schools.
Second, it has long been difficult to get reliable figures on how many U.S. students are home teaching, Lubienski says, because some of the families who do this are reluctant to answer questionnaires.
“Many families teach at home because they avoid any involvement with the government,” he explains. “Part of it is that they don’t want to react to the government coming in and asking how they raise their children. They see it as their right to be under the radar.”
A confluence of factors
During the pandemic, there were isolated indications that more families were turning to homeschooling.
J. Allen Weston, executive director of the National Home School Association, said Last summer, inquiries from parents interested in homeschooling “exploded”.
NPR member station WUNC recently reported about families in North Carolina who have turned to homeschooling – some planning to do so for another year and others who are desperate to send their children back to public school.
He’s not surprised to see the current growth – but he doesn’t think it will last forever: “Will it be there in five years? I think there will still be some legacies of this explosion in homeschooling, but it won’t be so.” these prices definitely. “
He points out a number of factors that are currently at play.
For starters, many schools remain physically closed, and not all parents and students were happy with the virtual classes offered instead. Second, even with schools open, many parents and carers remain concerned about the health and safety of their child during a pandemic.
And many parents have newly discovered flexibility to teach at home in the first place: they are suddenly working from home for the first time.
Whether the current surge continues depends on whether employers continue to give workers flexibility, Lubienski says. If workers can continue to telework, “this could potentially open up opportunities for homeschooling families who otherwise would not be there.”