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Homeschooling and charter school are on the rise and some are wondering what this all means. Will enrollment increases be permanent or are families just responding to the pandemic? As the pandemic set in, charter schools saw their highest enrollment growth since 2015. Some families tried homeschooling for their children with special educational needs; others because they were seeking a faith-based curriculum or say their local schools are flawed. What they expected to be temporary due to the pandemic ended up being beneficial to their children.

Here are some facts for you:

  • The hope for a return to normal is fading quickly in some parts of the country.
  • An estimated 11 million students have not had their needs met by K-12 schools since the start of the pandemic.
  • While traditional public schools and private schools lost enrollment from 2019-20 to 2020-21, there were gains in public charter schools, microschools, learning pods and the biggest enrollment winner: homeschooling.
  • Data suggest that approximately 1.2 million families switched to homeschooling last academic year.
  • According to the Census Bureau, Black and Hispanic families now have the highest estimated rates of homeschooling, at 16% and 12%, respectively.
  • Black households saw the largest jump; their homeschooling rate rose from 3.3 percent in the spring of 2020 to 16.1 percent in the fall.
  • What might explain this growth? Polling data reveal that homeschooling decisions are driven by a combination of factors, including concerns over safety, a preference for more flexibility and a desire for more individualized instruction.
  • Shifting parental preferences may also play a role. A recent analysis of survey data revealed a spike in the percentage of mothers who would prefer to not work for pay. If more parents withdraw from the workforce, it may increase their capacity to pursue homeschooling for their children.

Conclusion

  • Instead of focusing on getting schools back to a pre-pandemic normal, education leaders ought to look at addressing the needs of the kids and families who are being underserved by the nation’s K-12 system and focus on the most important question right now: “How can we better meet the needs of children and families?”
  • Families are sending a clear message. They want more public school options. – Nina Rees, president and CEO of the Alliance

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