Since public schools are spectacularly successful leftist recruitment centers, weakening public attachment to them through lockdowns was a dangerous move for Democrats.
By Joy PullmannJUNE 1, 2021
Between May and October 2020, homeschooling more than doubled among U.S. households with school-age children, from 5.4 percent that spring to 11.1 percent that fall, according to new Census Bureau data.
Black and Hispanic Americans were the most likely to switch to homeschooling, while white and Asian Americans were the least likely. This could be due to the fact that African-American children are the most likely to be financially locked into poor-quality school districts, or that black Americans have been the most likely to exhibit COVID caution, or some combination.
All demographics reported large increases in homeschooling between spring and fall 2020, but black Americans increased homeschooling the most, quintupling from 3.3. percent to 16.1 percent.
The data show wide differences among states in the 2020 homeschooling surge. Families in Alaska showed the largest homeschooling increase, from 9.6 percent to 27. 5 percent, a 17-point jump. Florida went from 5 percent to 18 percent homeschoolers, and Vermont went from 4 percent to 17 percent homeschoolers, in the second- and third-largest homeschooling jumps by states in 2020, respectively.
Other states that saw 10 percent or more increases in homeschooling were: Massachusetts (from 1.5 to 12.1 percent), Mississippi (from 3 to 14 percent), Montana (from 8 to 18 percent), Nevada (from 2.5 to 13.1 percent), Oklahoma (from 7.7 to 20 percent), Vermont (from 4 to 17 percent), and West Virginia (from 5.4 to 16.6 percent). Homeschooling in New York increased seven-fold, from 1.2 to 10.1 percent, quadrupled in Kansas, tripled in Connecticut and North Dakota, and more than doubled in Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Wisconsin.
It seems pretty clear that their experiences governors and local governments constantly changing the rules and expectations in spring 2020, plenty of parents decided they were not going through that insanity again in the fall. Even when schools did open in person, would you send your child to a place that looks like this photo from a February 2021 Wall Street Journal story about Chicago schools? It looks like some kind of a dystopian novel. Or a prison.
Researcher Nicholas Zill points out that, while homeschooling has been gradually increasing over time in the United States, the 2020 jump is “unprecedented.” Here’s his chart.
Since lockdowns and the great school unsettling began, however, Congress has been showering deficit-funded billions on public schools that were largely closed to in-person instruction and hemorrhaging students. “Congress has included more than $192 billion for K-12 schools — roughly six times the amount of the fiscal year 2021 base federal funding — in the three big Covid relief bills passed since last March,” notes a recent CNN story. “Each piece of legislation sent more money to K-12 schools than the last.”
While Congress sends more money to support institutions that have horribly mismanaged their response to the COVID outbreak, public support has grown for instead giving parents more control and flexibility over education spending instead of relegating families to one-size-fits-nobody institutions. One April poll found among its highest support ever for school choice via parental control of education tax dollars, at 71 percent of respondents. A different poll that has measured public opinion on schooling monthly since the beginning of the lockdowns shows similarly high support for parent-directed education in its latest results.
The latter poll, from the organization EdChoice, also found 64 percent of respondents saying their opinion of homeschooling has become more positive “as a result of the coronavirus,” with just 21 percent saying COVID has made them less positive about homeschooling.
A question ripe for speculation is whether the dramatic increase in homeschooling will continue or fade with the pandemic. It’s impossible to foretell, of course, but important to note that dissatisfaction with public schooling has grown along with homeschooling over the past several decades, and current conditions suggest that dissatisfaction will only grow. For example, the critical race curriculum battles are reaching even into conservative communities.
Zill also points out that many of the underlying reasons parents traditionally homeschool are only increasing: lack of moral instruction and presence of a negative peer environment in public schools, as well as the availability of one parent at home. A Gallup poll this February found that 20 percent of parents had either quit a job or reduced their hours to help their kids with online schooling, and mothers who quit or were laid off during COVID lockdowns are still largely not back in the workforce.
In addition, there is evidence that once parents switch from government to private education, they typically like it much better. Parents who privately direct their children’s education, either in a private school or through homeschooling, report massively higher satisfaction with that education than do public-school parents. Here are two examples of that from the latest EdChoice poll, and it’s a consistent finding across surveys:
Realities like this are why the anti-scientific school shutdowns Democrats pushed at the behest of their union donors may come back to bite their behinds. Since public schools are spectacularly successful leftist recruitment centers, weakening public attachment to them through lockdowns was a dangerous move for Democrats. In short, their hubris has raised a nemesis.
As I wrote last summer, when two-thirds of Americans supported sending kids back to school in person yet most were denied that opportunity thanks to Democrats’ stranglehold on schools:
Once this exodus starts, it will be hard to stop. Parents have for years told pollsters that private education is their top choice, not public education. They haven’t left yet because it hasn’t gotten bad enough. Long-term coronavirus schooling is easily a tipping point towards ‘bad enough to finally leave.’ It will likely create a cascade effect of long-term parental divestment from public schooling.
Sure, some parents who homeschooled over COVID will return to public schools. But the fact that one in ten American parents — three times as many as before — now have a largely positive experience with homeschooling will have network effects.
The past two years of politically disrupted education make public schooling less default. It is no longer the automatic conveyor belt leftists need it to be. And they’re doing even more offensive and extremist things that will further sabotage their mind control factories.
In addition, the higher education bubble has quietly burst amid the lockdown abuse of college-age Americans, as well. Millions of young people put off college over lockdowns, and millions who stayed were treated like inmates while paying dearly for the abuse. Nearly half of parents now want alternative pathways into adult life that aren’t a four-year degree. That’s a significant shift away from the hardened previous preference for “everyone going to college.”
These are cracks in a big dam. But they are significant cracks. And it doesn’t take many to open the way for a flood.Joy Pullmann is executive editor of The Federalist, a happy wife, and the mother of six children. Her newest ebook is a design-your-own summer camp kit, and her bestselling ebook is “Classic Books for Young Children.” Sign up here to get early access to her next full-length book, “How To Control The Internet So It Doesn’t Control You.” A Hillsdale College honors graduate, @JoyPullmann is also the author of “The Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids,” from Encounter Books.