Record Numbers of Texas Students Leaving Public Schools for Homeschooling
Steve Warren : Sep 18, 2023
"In Texas, it's easy to homeschool because there is a lot of flexibility and little regulation. In Texas, you have to teach reading, spelling, grammar, math, and good citizenship. So other than a few other paperwork things, this gives parents an enormous amount of flexibility, and a lot of other states are more onerous than the homeschooling community in Texas..." -Jeremy Newman, THSC Vice President of Policy and Engagement
[CBN News] Tens of thousands of parents in the state of Texas are choosing to homeschool their children following the COVID-19 pandemic. (Image: Pixabay)
Recent data from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) showed almost 29,765 students switched to homeschooling after withdrawing from public or private schools during the 2021-22 school year. The information was part of an open records request by the Texas Home School Coalition (THSC).
"This high has previously only been matched during the COVID-19 peak in the 2020–2021 school year when the number was 29,845," the coalition said.
THSC Vice President of Policy and Engagement Jeremy Newman told KBTX-TV that the TEA numbers for the 2022-23 school year will be released in 2024. Although the TEA only tracks student withdrawals from the 7th to the 12th grade, Newman thinks a very large number of younger students are also switching to homeschooling.
"This is certainly anecdotal because we don't have the hard numbers from the TEA, but in our experience, the lower grade levels are the most prominent grade levels where families choose to withdraw," Newman said. "So if the total number were north of 40,000 or higher, that would not surprise me at all."
The THSC has cited the following three main reasons for parents withdrawing their children from public schools: "concern about safety, parental involvement, and the school environment."
The bottom line: Homeschooling in Texas is rising rapidly, The Federalist reported. According to a THSC study, "Since 1998, a total of 379,815 students between grades 7-12 have withdrawn from public schools in Texas to homeschool. This number has increased at an average of 6.5% per year."
Newman told The Federalist homeschooling is attractive to parents in the Lone Star State partly because the transition process is easy.
"In Texas, it's easy to homeschool because there is a lot of flexibility and little regulation," he said. "In Texas, you have to teach reading, spelling, grammar, math, and good citizenship. So other than a few other paperwork things, this gives parents an enormous amount of flexibility, and a lot of other states are more onerous than the homeschooling community in Texas. It's more developed than in other states so it's comparatively easier."
And the homeschooling trend also continues across the country. The National Home Education Research Institute's data shows that from late March to early May of 2022, 5.22% of all school-age children were homeschooled. So far, homeschooling has had a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.1% between 2016-2021.
Public Schools Saw Student Exodus During the Pandemic
As CBN News has reported, although the homeschooling move may have started before the COVID-19 pandemic, the exodus from public schools certainly sped up during the health crisis.
Many parents pulled their kids out of the public school systems after educators and administrators flip-flopped repeatedly on virtual versus in-person learning and mask mandates from 2020 into 2021.
The mishandling of the government-sanctioned education system saw many parents enrolling their children in private and charter schools. In addition, about five million children are now homeschooled.
Along with frustrating COVID-related policies, viral social media accounts like "Libs of TikTok" have alerted parents to concerning—and oft-sexually explicit—content being taught to their young children. Subscribe for free to Breaking Christian News here
Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country.