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The explosive growth of homeschooling, including among black Americans

Students listen to a teacher in a classroom. |

Parents are taking their children’s education into their own hands in record numbers after a disastrously tumultuous school year.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s experimental Household Pulse Survey, which is an online survey recording social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrates a dramatic shift towards homeschooling within the past year and a half. The survey included roughly 22–23 million American households spanning from the spring of 2020 to the fall of 2021.

During Phase 1 (April 23 to May 5, 2020) of the survey, about 5.4 of households with school-aged children said they were homeschooling. By the fall (September 30 to October 12, 2020), 11.1% of households with school-aged children reported homeschooling. The number increased to a staggering 19.5 % by May of 2021. Fall 2021 statistics on homeschooling have not yet been published.

This embrace of home education is diverse. The survey respondents indicated that homeschooling in black households increased from 3.3% in the spring of 2020 to 16.1% in the fall of 2020.

The possible reasons for such a monumental and unprecedented switch to homeschooling are numerous, and include pandemic shutdowns, strict masking, and critical race theory.

The profound failure of school shutdowns during the pandemic was evidenced by the drop-off in student test scores in reading and math and soaring rates of students attempting suicide.

Unscientific mask mandates for school-aged children also received outcry from concerned parents. Even though many young students have reported headaches, dizziness, and brain fog from masking for 8-hour or more school days, some school boards and states still require them. From Broward County to Loudoun County, parents have protested nationwide against mask mandates.

The immense, national backlash to critical race theory in schools may have also catalyzed the turn towards homeschooling. Parents across the country have protested against CRT at school board meetings, claiming the instructional tool promotes racism and hatred. Some states, including Oklahoma, Idaho, and Florida have even banned CRT from schools.

Dr. Anika Prather, a professor of Classics at Howard University and founder of the Living Water School, is an advocate for diverse classical education and a supporter of school choice. Prather told The American Spectator that personalization is a benefit of homeschooling, as parents maintain direct agency over their children’s education.

Dr. Prather elaborated: “In the family that chooses to give their children more freedom in how they’re educated, that parent is now free to protect and advocate for their child’s freedom to learn. If the family is Christian, the parent has the freedom to disciple that child in the faith. If that family is Afrocentric, that family has the freedom to make all of their lessons geared to the child learning their African heritage.”

Originally published at The Institute for Faith and Freedom

Emily Burke is a Student Fellow for the Institute for Faith & Freedom. Studying English, Philosophy, and Pre-Law at Grove City College, Emily also serves as an Editorial Intern for The American Spectator through the Young Writers Program. Heavily involved in political writing, editing, and research, Emily aims to apply those skills in the fields of journalism and public policy concerning issues of constitutional government and the future state of education. You can follow her on Twitter @emilyfburke. 

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