Growing Numbers

As I learn more about the homeschooling movement, I am delighted to see that it is catching on quite steadily in recent years. When I did my undergraduate research paper on the topic in 1998, there were about 850,000 homeschoolers nation-wide and, according to a Department of Education report, there were more than 1.5 million homeschoolers, (or 3% of the school population), in 2007. And this seems to be a conservative estimate, with some data suggesting homeschooling numbers well over 2 million.

While religious conservatives continue to be a large fraction of the homeschool population, the most growth is occurring in more mainstream populations, like urban, middle-class parents who want to stay in the city and not have their kids attend public or private school; suburban parents who are dismayed by the intense focus on standardized tests, academic rigidity, and negative social behaviors like bullying; and others who are disillusioned by the intense academic competition exhbited by students in private-- and some public-- schools.

According to an October 2008 New York Times article, "home-schooling is becoming more popular in New York City, with more than 2,600 students registered this year, up from nearly 1,600 in 2001, according to the New York City Department of Education." That's impressive growth, and I think we're seeing similar trends in urban areas across the country.