Homeschooling 101: The Truth in Numbers

Based on information from the U.S. Department of Education, about 2 million students are homeschooled.  If you ask the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), they will tell you the numbers are possibly even higher.  But regardless, homeschooled students make up almost four percent of the current school age population , K – 12th grade.

***Also, let me define “homeschool”.  This is a student that does not attend a brick and mortar school setting and does not depend on any public funds, be it federal, state, or local education funds or any tax payer provided resources.  “Homeschool” does not include online charter students that are still funded by any public money.***

Therefore, there are even more than two million students outside of a traditional school setting that are not attending a private school once online and charter schools become factored.

Now, let’s talk money.  The families that choose to homeschool their children do so out of their own finances, saving the U.S. approximately $16 billion each year.  In fact, in my home state there were 15,826 homeschool students this past school year (2013-14). Let’s assume the state government alone puts in $10,000 per student (it is really a little more, but I rounded down to the nearest thousand); that means that if all the homeschooled students in my state suddenly showed up at the doors of the local public school, it could cost the state tax payers $158,260,000.  That is not figuring in county money, district money, or extra federal funding provided.  Let me be the first to break the news to those not in the know….in my little rural, poor town, even a fraction of that number up there would break the bank.  The schools are poor with what they’ve got, and if we showed up they’d end up destitute.

And yet, despite the state spending thousands and thousands of dollars per student, most homeschooling families do not spend anywhere close to that on educating their children.  Often the families are living on single incomes, expenses are tight, and budgets are a necessity.  The myth that homeschoolers are wealthy and very religious is just that – a myth.  The National Center for Education Statistics, as published at this site, found that while homeschool families are slighty less likely than the average population to be poor, they are more likely to be near poor or middle class.  Homeschool families are no wealthier than the average public school population.   And as for religious, well, while religion is one of the reasons people choose to homeschool, it is not the only one.  If we look at the numbers and see where homeschoolers are located, we notice a higher average of rural students in homeschooling than in public school, as well as more larger families of three or more children in a household.  But even at that, students are coming from all types of environments – city, suburban, rural, single parents, two working parents, large families, small families, etc.  So while religion does play a part in their decision to homeschool in many instances, convenience, flexibility, or poor public educational options are also common reasons as well.

So finally, this begs the question – But can homeschoolers graduate from high school?  Does Mom write up a transcript?  Is their education as thorough as a public education?  In other words, are they getting at a minimum what their public school peers are getting?  And the answer is yes.  Homeschoolers are getting what they need to succeed.  In fact, on average, homeschoolers score higher on standardized tests and go on to be successful college students and/ or involved members of our communities.

While this post highlighted a few basic questions, more information is available for those readers interested in comparison by numbers.  There is a fun chart here.  Also, for even more statistics on homeschooling, please click on the highlighted links in this post above.

Homeschooling 101 will continue in the next post with the question of socialization.

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