Census survey: Home schooling rises across Texas, nation

Home schooling has increased throughout the country in recent years, including in Texas, and a recent U.S. Census Bureau survey confirmed that the upward trend continued during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey, titled “Home Schooling on the Rise During COVID-19 Pandemic,” indicates that more families decided to home-school their children during the pandemic and a substantial increase in home schooling took place from last spring to the start of the 2020-21 school year.

“In the first week [April 23-May 5, 2020] of Phase 1 of the Household Pulse Survey, about 5.4% of U.S. households with school-aged children reported home schooling,” the survey indicated. “By fall, 11.1% of households with school-age children reported home schooling [Sept. 30-Oct. 12].” They ensured people reported home schooling rather than virtual learning through private or public school.

While the 5.6% increase was reported from the spring to the fall, it shows a doubling in the amount of households which chose home schooling at the start of the 2020-21 school year when compared to the prior year.

In Texas, the rate of home schoolers last spring was 4.5% and that jumped to 12.3% by fall 2020. The Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington metro areas saw its home schooling rate rise from 5.8% to 8.2% during the same period. The Houston metro area saw an increase of 6.8 percentage points, from 4% to 10.8%.

Texas’ home schooling increase of 7.8% was larger than the national increase of 5.6%.

Home schooling in Texas was rising even before the pandemic. As previously reported by Education Daily Wire, data from the Texas Education Agency showed between 1997 and 2019, students who withdrew from public schools and were home-schooled in the state increased 228%.

The growth in home schooling nationwide and in Texas could continue to be substantial due to COVID-19 and beyond. A recent survey from Real Clear Opinions found that 40% of registered voters were more likely to enroll their children in a home school or a virtual school after the COVID-19, the Federation for Children reported.

In addition, a Gallup survey found the number of families who indicated their child would be home schooled doubled from 5% in 2019 to 10% in 2020. If those numbers are applied to Texas, it would translate to more than 670,000 students in the state who are home schooled.

“It should come as no surprise that more parents in all communities are choosing home schooling,” the Texas Policy Foundation’s said Erin Davis Valdez in an e-mail alert. “With many schools not offering fulltime in-person options, many parents saw the benefits in taking more of a direct hand in their children’s education. Far from being a phenomenon confined to one socioeconomic group, the rates for home schooling doubled overall, and the increase was five-fold among black families.”

The survey also found home school rates increased across different race groups and ethnicities. For example, households who identified as black or African American chose to home-school at increased rate. It increased by five times, from 3.3% in the spring to 16.1% in the fall.

“Home schooling is a legal instructional option in all 50 states, and national home schooling rates grew rapidly from 1999 to 2012 but had since remained steady at around 3.3%,” the survey reported. “However, the global COVID-19 pandemic has sparked new interest in home schooling and the appeal of alternative school arrangements has suddenly exploded.”

During unprecedented times, families sought solutions to meet health, safety, child care, and “the learning and socio-emotional needs of their children,” the survey concluded. “American families are increasingly open to options beyond the neighborhood school,” it stated.

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