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Public school enrollment nationwide has decreased by 4%. Photo: August de Richelieu.

Homeschooling reduces public school enrollment by nearly 2 million students

Enrollment in public schools has dropped by 4%, an equivalent to nearly 2 million students over the last two years.

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Education Next, an education policy publication, found that enrollment in public schools has dropped by 4%, an equivalent to nearly 2 million students over the last two years. Several factors contribute to the decline in public school and public charter school enrollments; safe environment concerns, Covid-19 pandemic, mask mandate, and bad academic quality. 

Safe Environment Concerns and Covid- 19 Pandemic

Recent increase in school shootings and hostile learning environments have affected the public’s perception of how safe schools are for students. These concerns are only intensified when schools are located in unsafe environments, drug infested, and the repercussions of negative peer pressure that continues to affect young students’ mental health. 

These concerns are undoubtedly valid and pressing enough to make parents want to protect their child by homeschool. According to recent statistics on homeschooling, students who are homeschooled outperform institutional school students academically. The study finds that there are 3.7 million homeschool students in the U.S of which most homeschoolers are in North Carolina, Florida, and Georgia. 

According to Census homeschooling data, home-schooling households doubled during the Covid pandemic to 11.1%. The amount of homeschoolers in 2021 in North Carolina were 179,900 students, Florida 143,431 students, and Georgia 85,510 students. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Education reports 15,637 students were homeschooled in the 2020-2021 fiscal year. 

However, during the Pandemic, Education Next reports that in the spring of 2020, 81% of schoolchildren in the U.S were enrolled in district schools, but “parental anxiety about their children’s education had intensified.” Many parents felt their children were not receiving adequate learning and that distance learning or online learning was only making their children fall behind. 

Nevertheless, parents’ concerns diminished by Spring 2022 in part because schools relaxed policies designed to minimize Covid spread, as stated by Education Next. 

Mask Mandate 

The mask mandate only made parents fearful for their children, especially preschool students who couldn’t abide by the mask mandate rule. Education Next further reveals that “34% of students whose parents are Republicans and live in red states were never required to mask up in the 2021–22 school year, as compared to 20% of those in blue states, 21% of those with Democratic parents living in red states, and 5% of those with Democratic parents living in blue states.” 

Although this might be true, the poll found that other schooling alternatives have increased enrollment; private school enrollment increased to 10% in 2022 from 8% in 2020. Also, the number of charter school students increased from 5% to 7%. 

The mask relaxation marked improvement in parent’s assessments of their children’s wellbeing and the schools ability to provide for their children. However, masks requirements varied by sector, 19% of children in district schools were not required to wear a mask, but 33% of private schools and 26% of charge schools avoided that requirement, as reported by Education Next

Bad Academic Quality 

The quality of education varies, especially for Black and Hispanic students who are often victims of bullying and fighting in schools. 

Education Next reports that parents of 40% of students viewed fighting or bullying as a problem at their child’s school in 2022, while 9% of parents emphasized the seriousness of the problem. In total, 43% of blue-state children face this problem when compared to 35% of red-state children. 

The parents of Black and Hispanic students are more likely to view fighting and bullying as a problem in their child’s school. “45% of Hispanic students and 44% of Black students, parents report fighting and bullying as a problem at their school, as compared to 37% of white students” reports Education Next.
 

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