As Urbanites Take Up Homeschooling, Diversity of Choice Option Increases

Published October 1, 2015

According to the latest data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the number of U.S. K–12 children educated at home increased from 1.09 million in 2003 to 1.77 million in 2012, now constituting 3.4 percent of the nation’s school population.

The National Home Education Research Institute has the total number of children homeschooled at 2.2 million.

As the growth in homeschooling continues, the ethnic and cultural diversity among families choosing to homeschool is also increasing.

Increasingly Urban

City Journal Associate Editor Matthew Hennessey, a homeschooling parent, says city-dwellers are teaching their kids at home in greater numbers because they are frustrated with traditional public schools. Citing NCES numbers, Hennessey says in a report for City Journal 28 percent of homeschoolers live in cities.

“That’s almost as many as live in suburbs[, about 34 percent,] or rural areas[, roughly 31 percent],” Hennessey wrote. “Boston, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles are home to swelling communities of homeschoolers. And in the nation’s largest city—New York—the number of homeschooled students has risen 47 percent, to more than 3,700 children, over the last five years.”

Dispelling Exclusivity Myth

The myth of homeschooling being the domain of the ultra rich, the very religious, and the very “weird” is less true today than ever. Mike Donnelly, attorney and director of international affairs at the Home School Legal Defense Association, says the 2012 National Household Education Survey of parents shows considerable diversity in the reasons families choose to homeschool.

According to the survey, “Ninety-one percent of parents cited concerns about the environment of public schools, 77 percent cited moral instruction, and 74 percent expressed concerns about the academic instruction. … 64 percent listed wanting to give their children religious instruction as a reason, followed by 44 percent saying they wanted their child to have a nontraditional form of education.”

When asked what the single most important reason for homeschooling was, “25 percent of parents said they were concerned about the environment of other schools; 22 percent said ‘other reasons,’ [including family time, finances, travel, and distance], and 19 percent said they were dissatisfied with the academic instruction at other schools,” the survey reported.

Online Assistance

With some creative ideas, modern technology, and a solid support system, parents are finding it easier than ever to leave traditional schools, both public and private. Homeschool co-ops, where a group of parents get together and combine their talents to take the burden off individual moms and dads, have proliferated.

For subjects in which parents are not proficient, the Internet offers a whole new world of assistance. The online Khan Academy alone has produced more than 6,500 video lessons, which teach a wide spectrum of subjects, mainly focusing on mathematics and science. As of April 1, 2015, the Khan Academy channel on YouTube had attracted 2,825,468 subscribers, and the videos were viewed more than 527 million times.

The Home School Legal Defense Association maintains a comprehensive website where parents can learn about their state’s homeschool law, find supplemental resources, exchange curricula, and access other useful information.

Larry Sand ([email protected]) is a former classroom teacher and president of the California Teachers Empowerment Network.

Image by Jimmie.

And Now, News from the Grinch …

At its annual national convention, the National Education Association passed Resolution B-83 (exactly the same as 2011’s B-82, 2008’s B-75, etc.), which in part reads:

“The National Education Association believes that home schooling programs based on parental choice cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience. When home schooling occurs, students enrolled must meet all state curricular requirements, including the taking and passing of assessments to ensure adequate academic progress. Home schooling should be limited to the children of the immediate family, with all expenses being borne by the parents/guardians. Instruction should be by persons who are licensed by the appropriate state education licensure agency, and a curriculum approved by the state department of education should be used.” [Emphasis added.]

—Originally published in Union Watch, reprinted with permission.

Internet Info

Homeschool Legal Defense Association:

Khan Academy:

National Household Education Surveys Program, National Center for Education Statistics: