A federal report on school choice that was released in September validated what homeschooling supporters have been saying for years.
More families are starting to break the mold by homeschooling their kids. The report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) detailed educational trends in America over the last decade. The NCES is mostly known for running the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), which is better known as the “Nation’s Report Card.” The last time the NCES released a similar report was back in 2007. So, an update to the state of education in America was long overdue.
The data reveals that public school enrollment dropped from 74 percent in 1999 to 69 percent in 2016. Although this is not a dramatic shift, it does highlight that there is a growing segment of the population that has lost confidence in government schools. Importantly, the homeschooling data are quite intriguing. The key takeaway from this study is that unprecedented numbers of American students are being homeschooled, going from 850,000 in 1999 to 1.7 million in 2016.
In addition, the NCES questioned parents about their reasons for opting for home education. The principal reason they cited was the school environment, which covers a host of issues such as safety, drugs, and peer pressure that parents feel would be detrimental to their children’s well-being. Thirty-three percent indicated that the school environment was their principal reason for homeschooling. The other two reasons that parents reported for getting their children out of the government school system was their dissatisfaction with the quality of instruction at public schools (17 percent) and their desire to provide religious instruction (15 percent).
Education has become a sacrament in our political religion of mass democracy. Treated as a positive right, academics, politicians, and political pundits are all in agreement that education must be a state-sponsored service. Rarely does it occur to many that education is not a magical service that the government must have exclusive dominion over. It’s no different from any good or service you find in the diverse markets available to people of all backgrounds these days. The political mindset of our time clouds people’s thinking, blocking them from seeing that education does not have to be under state control in order to be accessible.
The beauty of the homeschooling movement is the voluntary initiative behind it. These individuals proactively build a parallel system without waiting for the government to change its policies. This is voluntary action at its finest.
We can only hope that policymakers take note and actually design policies that free the education sector from the government’s iron grip and let the market flourish.