Homeschooling surge continues despite schools reopening

Editor’s note: AP News published this article last week on its website, apnews.com

The coronavirus pandemic ushered in what may be the most rapid rise in homeschooling the U.S. has ever seen. Two years later, even after schools reopened and vaccines became widely available, many parents have chosen to continue directing their children’s educations themselves.

Homeschooling numbers this year dipped from last year’s all-time high, but are still significantly above pre-pandemic levels, according to data obtained and analyzed by The Associated Press.

Families that may have turned to homeschooling as an alternative to hastily assembled remote learning plans have stuck with it — reasons include health concerns, disagreement with school policies and a desire to keep what has worked for their children.

In 18 states that shared data through the current school year, the number of homeschooling students increased by 63% in the 2020-2021 school year, then fell by only 17% in the 2021-2022 school year.

Around 3% of U.S. students were homeschooled before the pandemic-induced surge, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The rising numbers have cut into public school enrollment in ways that affect future funding and renewed debates over how closely homeschooling should be regulated. What remains unknown is whether this year’s small decrease signals a step toward pre-pandemic levels — or a sign that homeschooling is becoming more mainstream.

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