Student enrollment in public schools has nosedived as parent disgust with school COVID-19 policies, student learning losses and controversial education policies has gone through the roof. In the wake of this enrollment implosion, home-schooling has boomed across the country.

At the beginning of the school year, the U.S. Department of Education estimated 1.5 million students had left the public schools since the coronavirus pandemic began.

If students are not enrolling in public schools, where are they going? The numbers show many former public school students are now being home-schooled.

The U.S. Census Bureau found the percentage of home-schooling households more than doubled in 2020 from 5% in spring to 11% in the fall.

According to a recent University of Michigan study, from 2020 to 2021, the enrollment at public schools in Michigan fell by nearly 46,000 students, which represented a more than a 3% drop. Among kindergartners, there was a decrease of more than 11%.

The increase in home-schoolers does not come from just a narrow segment of the American population. A University of Washington Bothell analysis found, "The diversity of home-schoolers in the U.S. mirrors the diversity of all students nationally," including all racial, religious, political, and income groups.

For instance, the Census Bureau found that among African American households the increase in home-schooling was much steeper than in the country as a whole, rising from 3% to 16%, a five-fold jump.

This increase in African American home-schooling is not surprising given recent research by McKinsey & Company that found "Students in majority Black schools ended the (2020-21 school) year with six months of unfinished learning."

Demetria Zinga, one of the country's top African American home-school YouTubers, says, "I believe home-schooling is growing and exploding amongst African Americans and there will be more and more home-schoolers."

Home-school mom Magda Gomez, an immigrant from Mexico, has become an activist for home-schooling in the Hispanic community.

She observes: "We Hispanics as a culture are usually very protective and loving towards our children. However, I explain that love is not enough to raise our children. We have to educate ourselves in different areas (of education), especially since we are not in our (native) country but are immigrants."

"It is my dream," she says, "to see more Hispanic families doing home-school." Her dream is coming true with home-schooling doubling among Hispanic households, from 6% to 12%.

In addition to the racial diversity of home-schoolers, in 2021 the school-choice organization EdChoice found: "Many parents of children with autism, ADHD, and other neuro-developmental disorders report that public schools cannot effectively address their child's specialized learning needs."

Pediatric nurse and home-school mom Jackie Nunes unenrolled her special-needs daughter from public school saying, "There just wasn't enough of the things that matter — time, attention, patience, persistence, passion, support."

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed all the flaws in the one-size-fits-all public schools, which is why the home-school boom is shaking up American education.

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Lance Izumi is senior director of the Center for Education at the Pacific Research Institute. 

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