Pandemic-Forced Homeschooling Is Winning Converts

Unplanned and maybe even unwanted, coronavirus-fueled experiences with DIY education impress more people than they turn off.


Opponents of school choice have been touting a poll that they claim shows enthusiasm for homeschooling waning as pandemic-forced experiments in DIY education drag on. But a closer look at the numbers reveals nothing of the sort. Instead, it appears that even after months of an unplanned plunge into kitchen-counter education, the proportion of people saying they feel more positive about the practice has remained a majority, while opposition shrinks.

"One other interesting thing in this poll," self-described labor campaigner and public education activist Kombiz Lavasany tweeted on February 3. "Right-wing education types kept saying how this would be a renaissance for homeschooling vs public schools. Not so much."

The tweet included a screenshot from a January survey stating that "strong favorability of homeschooling has dropped considerably among school parents this month to the lowest it has been since the start of the pandemic." Conducted by Morning Consult for Edchoice on a monthly basis, the survey tracks sentiment over time with regard to the educational landscape. Asked in January how their opinions on homeschooling changed as a result of the coronavirus, 18 percent of respondents said they were "much more favorable," down from a high of 43 percent back in July, when school was on summer break for most families.

But that's only part of the story. For January, another 40 percent of respondents said they were "somewhat more favorable" toward homeschooling as a result of their coronavirus experience. By contrast, 10 percent said they felt "somewhat less favorable" and 9 percent were "much less favorable" toward homeschooling (22 percent had no opinion). That's 58 percent to 19 percent—or a 3:1 ratio—of increased to decreased favorability for DIY education.

EdChoice and Morning Consult first asked about feelings toward pandemic-forced homeschooling last May after families had tried their hand at it for a few months. In that first survey, 59 percent of respondents said they felt more favorable (26 percent "much" and 33 percent "somewhat") while 29 percent were less favorable toward the practice (12 percent "much" and 17 percent "somewhat").

In the intervening months, total increased favorability hit its peak—74 percent—in July, when few families were actually educating their children. Once parents were back to the hard work of teaching, favorability maintained a solid majority even as unfavorable views declined from the early days. The numbers suggest that even when forced into a hands-on education option that they may never have selected of their own accord, far more people gained a positive impression of the practice than acquired a negative one. Experience dampened initial enthusiasm, but it hasn't turned people off.

A hint as to why that may be comes from another question in the January survey: "How do you feel your child/children is/are progressing on the following this school year?" An answer of "very well" was given in the context of "academic learning" by 51 percent of homeschoolers, 39 percent of private schoolers, and 20 percent of public school district schoolers. Homeschoolers came in second, behind private schoolers and ahead of district schoolers, for "emotional development." They were even with private schoolers and way ahead of district schoolers in answering "very well" with regard to "social development."

If you see that your homeschooled kids are doing better than their friends and relations in government schools, it makes sense that you'd feel pretty well-disposed toward the option.

That doesn't mean that homeschooling is for everybody. There are a lot of families for whom DIY education is a less-than-ideal choice. Teaching kids may play havoc with the already-busy schedules of two-income families and it can be an overwhelming experience for those who never seriously considered the option before it was thrust upon them. It can also just run counter to personal inclinations. One-size-fits-some options are a bad fit for others.

But few if any choice advocates argue that everybody should homeschool or adopt any particular education approach. Instead, they say that people should be able to choose how their kids learn.

"Are there cases where families seek alternatives to a traditional public school based on their experience there?" asks EdChoice's Jennifer Wagner. "Yes. But they're making that choice because of their experience in that school. Parents aren't trying to topple an institution; they just want to do what's best for their kids."

By contrast, people like Kombiz Lavasany seem heavily invested in supporting specific government institutions at the expense of any other means of providing education. Any sign of preference for, or satisfaction with, homeschooling, charter schools, or private schools is seen as an attack on those favored institutions—never mind the kids who are, theoretically, the point of all of this.

The larger public, though, continues to support the idea of educating children through whatever means people desire, not through specific institutions.

"Fully 65% of K-12 parents back school choice, including 66% of public-school parents," according to a January poll conducted for the American Federation for Children. "Support for public charters schools and 'school vouchers that allow low- and middle-class families to send their child to any school they deem best' increased this year; 77% of voters support public charter schools and 74% back school vouchers with this framing."

A September RealClear Opinion Research survey found that 15 percent of respondents would pick homeschooling if they could select any type of K-12 school. Another 32 percent would pick district schools, 29 percent preferred private schools, 13 percent would choose charters, and 11 percent named virtual education (which can be offered by any of the above).

Surveys also find that homeschooling has surged during the pandemic, with roughly 10 percent of students now educated through various DIY approaches, up from an estimated 3.3 percent in 2016.

That doesn't suggest that homeschooling is a deadly enemy to government schools. Clearly, it's just one alternative that families want to be able to consider instead of being trapped in government schools and vilified if they choose something different.

But the pandemic is demonstrating that real-life experience with home-based education favorably impresses far more people than it turns off. And public education activists might better spend their time stepping up their game instead of wasting energy by attacking competing approaches that have proven their value.

NEXT: Biden Signals Retreat From Nonsensical Minimum Wage Hike in COVID-19 Relief Bill

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  1. Please don’t home school your kids.

    You can tell someone is home-schooled within 5 minutes of meeting them. It leaves a permanent mark of dorky, overly mothered awkwardness that will hold them back from normal relationships with non-dorks for the rest of their lives.

    1. This. Plus homeschooling entrenches white supremacy by furthering the intellectual divide between white kids and black kids. Both should be required to attend the concrete jungles known as public schools.

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    3. My homeschooled kid is smarter and nicer than you.

      1. “My homeschooled kid is smarter and nicer than you.”

        A low bar, but undoubtedly true.

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    4. You can tell the homeschoolers because they are educated and can solve problems. Also individualism and self reliance.

      Sure, they’re dorky. But in modern society anyone who has an actual education seems dorky. “Heh, he got accepted to Harvard, what a dork!” “Heh, he read Shakespeare, what a dork!”

      1. To be fair, there is a sizable subset of homeschoolers who just indoctrine their children to better fit into religious bubbles. But not any worse than some religious private schools. Or Kansas public schools (thou shalt teach intellijint design).

        1. I went to Kansas public schools my entire life, never once was I taught anything about intelligent design. Nobody I know has ever said anything about being taught that at public school either.

          I remember, fifteen or twenty years ago, there was some court ruling in the state that “allowed for” teaching intelligent design. Though, if the government is going to have a role in education, isn’t it better to leave as much control as possible to the local district level?

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        2. Or SF schools:

          “S.F. high school students get a lesson in subtle white privilege”
          “Three weeks ago I processed the Capitol insurrection with my high school students. Rallying our inquiry skills, we analyzed the images of that historic day, images of white men storming through the Capitol, fearless and with no forces to stop them. “This,” I said, “is white supremacy, this is white privilege. It can be hard to pinpoint, but when we see, it, we know it.”
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    5. Really, a better solution is the neighborhood educational co-ops that keep popping up in the wake of teachers in blue states going full-hog on the Precautionary Principle. There’s not much difference between these and how American schools worked before the implementation of our current Prussian-style system.

      1. And that’s actually how a lot of homeschooling works. Parents connect with other homeschooling parents, and share their time and resources. Depends on how close the parents are. A big enough group and they may even hire a full time teacher and become in essence a tiny private school.

    6. But I like people like that. What’s wrong with that? As long as it’s suited to the kid’s abilities and interests, it seems to work pretty well even if you do find strange knowledge gaps sometimes with people like that.

      1. This. Also, I’ve met plenty of people that I would have never known were homeschooled had it not come up randomly in conversation.

        I don’t know if there is any significant difference in the proportion of extremely weird people that went to public school vs homeschool.

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  2. When those parents have to go back to work– like leave the house and stuff, whatever strides we’ve made towards homeschooling will shrink back to ‘normal’.

    1. Maybe. I like to hope enough parents have bonded over this and can establish some sort of group homeschooling.

      My dad and uncles attended one of the last single-room “country schools” in the Dakotas. Based on their stories, I think it’s worth pushing for alternative education models every chance we get.

      1. I’m not making any judgements as to the quality and value of homeschooling. I just think for most urban and suburban parents, that the homeschooling choice in the right here and now is much easier, because everyone is at home. But the second you have to be back in the office 8, 9, 10+ hours a day, homeschooling will just be too logistically hard for most modern parents to maintain.

        1. I question how many people are ever going to go back to the office. If the loss of productivity is break even or just even marginally less than rent you aren’t ever going back. That math equation has already been done.

      2. My grandma taught in one of those schools. All grades in one room. My mother an uncle went there. The school mixed whites, not-white-at-the-time Italians, Mexicans and Indians.

    2. I think the plan is they don’t ever have to. I live in the metro DC area and the amount of empty commercial offices is apocalyptic with some of my customers basically already setting in motion to tear down their office buildings and build apartments. The next 6 months to year are going to be incredibly interesting to see where the economy ultimately shifts to and how bad the reshuffling and damage that actually occurred is permanent. there’s a real chance we are going to witness the the commercial real-estate market go tits up a la 2008 housing market.

      1. there’s a real chance we are going to witness the the commercial real-estate market go tits up a la 2008 housing market.

        Yeah, that was one of the things I predicted as well, a few weeks into all of this. Businesses are constantly looking for places to cut costs, and commercial office space is incredibly expensive to operate. The main hurdle before the pandemic was Boomer and early-stage Gen-X managers being unable to power through the old paradigm that you needed to get everyone in the office so their activity could be monitored. Now that this can essentially be tracked for people logging in to work from their home computers, it’s actually a lot easier in some respects for employers to do this because you can see how much they’re actually doing work as they use the applications.

        I expect a lot of downtowns are going to be absolutely obliterated, and the suburbs are going to become the main driver of socio-economic trends for the next 20-40 years, at least. It also puts the future of mass transit up in the air, because the whole point of these systems is to move masses of people into and around downtown areas. If people are afraid of even catching a common cold bug to the point that they wear masks even after COVID becomes just another bug to deal with during the winter, why would they crowd into mass transit?

        1. The corollary here is that residential real estate is already in the early stages of a rocket ride as people look to get out of the city and into the suburbs, exurbs, and even rural areas. Inventory is being heavily stressed right now because older people aren’t selling their homes due to the pandemic, while younger people are trying to get their starter and second homes, and hitting much tighter markets. Downtown residences might actually end up being relatively affordable in the wake of this.

          1. for sure the only problem with the downtown residences is how many amenities are even left after another 6 months of this as the gentile liberal class are fleeing the cities they cheered the onerous restrictions earlier the year.

          2. Easier to build houses in the suburbs than in cities. The required graft is far smaller and location is less important. Suburbs people will change towns for a house. City people won’t.

          3. I want to add on to here that this trend of working from home has some serious civil liberty implications that should concern libertarians. Companies can implement literal Big Brother-type monitoring systems to make sure their employees aren’t slacking off, and with the trend towards woke corporatism, this is something that would undoubtedly be applied across the board for white-collar Inner Party-type workers (kind of hard to monitor a plumber short of forcing blue-collar workers to wear active body cams everywhere).

            I’m reminded of that scene in “1984” that shows Winston being directly watched by one of the work enforcers.

        2. also the commercial strip mall sector is looking at a 50% bath on the high end. What makes a ton of this troublesome for the commercial debt holders is many of the losses aren’t across the board and many of the assets are silo’d off for tax shelters as separate tax entities so individuals can just walk away from buildings that are losers leaving the banks and mortgage holders holding the bag on specific properties instead of the whole portfolio being one entity.

        3. My current office space is nearly empty. Manufacturing on first floor is mostly staffed, but upstairs it’s extremely sparse. I’m currently the only guy on my row today. There are times we do need to come in to have access to the equipment, but not everyone needs to be here.

          Here in the heart of Sillycon Valley, three quarters of the buildings over one story tall are mostly empty. There will be a massive bust in commercial real estate. But they’re STILL building, because of negative interest rates that will only get worse with these trillion dollar helicopter drops. We’re soon going to be like China and build empty cities and trains to nowhere. Oh wait, we’re already building trains to nowhere. Sigh.

          I spent ten years working from home. And in every job I’ve had in the past twenty years there’s no reason at least half the crew couldn’t work from home. And today it’s even easier with modern networking.

          And I greatly suspect much of the work from home culture will stick around even after the pandemic is over.

  3. Teachers unions will drive the rise of homeschooling with their arrogant treatment of parents and schools districts.

    1. Do those parents have the necessary certificates and work shop experience to explain the “birds and bees”? To protect the sexual health of America’s jugend, public schooling must be mandatory!

    2. They already are. I can’t imagine being a single parent and trying to make a living while ensuring your kids stay on track scholastically while teacher unions stubbornly insist on not coming back until there is a 100% guarantee that they will never get sick anymore.

      1. Not just single Moms….working Moms. I have a number of working Moms that report to me and they are fucking livid. I mean, they are ‘Karens’ when it comes to double-masking, but teacher’s unions telling them their kid cannot go to school because…reasons? Their answer is: Up yours. Get back to work, because I am tired of doing your job and mine.

        The teachers unions will destroy public schools. I am hoping that is exactly what happens.

        1. This is one of my biggest hopes for good outcomes from 2020.

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  4. Most people dump their kids in public schools because they think it’s relatively free and they work all day so don’t know what else to do for them.

    It’s government daycare and it needs to stop.

    1. What else are those kids supposed to do? All of the cotton picking and corn shucking jobs have been automated!

      1. All the illegals taking our cotton picking and corn shucking jerbs!! Aaargh!

        Seriously, the quip about them doing jerbs ‘Muricans won’t do is mostly true. It’s all illegal Mexicans and a few citizen teenagers doing the crop picking. I knew a couple of poor white dudes that used to pick cotton, three months out of the year during cotton picking season. But being white and citizens, they only picked just enough to qualify for the dole. There’s a whole subculture of people like that. Which illegals can’t do because contrary to myth most dole is only for citizens.

        When you get to the Home Depot at 6:00 in the blessed AM to hire some day workers, you will NOT see any white dude citizens. Because it’s too much work. You’ll see illegal aliens happy to do the work. White lazy dudes whining about illegals taking their jerbs are pathetic. I ain’t never seen one of them out picking cotton or strawberries or tomatoes.

        1. For field jobs, sure. I think there has been some effect on job security and wages in construction industries. But, from the experience of friends I have in that business, it seems like it’s pretty hard to find Americans for those jobs who are reliable and show up more or less sober.

          1. And I’m probably in the part of the country where the fewest job like that are filled by recent immigrants.

          2. One of my first jobs was working at an Office Depot, since I didn’t have much working experience I asked the store manager what he wanted to see from me. “Show up on time, don’t steal anything and you’ll be better than 90% of the other people I hire” was his response.

            That was a relatively cushy job where I was in an air conditioned building all day, and he couldn’t consistently find people who would show up on time and not steal from him. I can only imagine the harder jobs are even worse in that regard.

            1. Take stuff from work and goof off on company time. Life is good.


        2. “You’ll see illegal aliens happy to do the work.” — Enter the Slave State. True as it may be; it’s the very curse of this lazy nation and should be fixed.

          #1 Making it legal to work children again without name-calling it “child abuse”. PC retards have made this mess. The same PC retards that were once the party of slavery and still are.

  5. I wonder how much of the negative view of homeschooling is due to respondents confusing it for virtual school at home? I’m quite enjoying actual homeschooling (where my husband and I are in charge of curriculum and schedule), but virtual school was a circle of hell in which it took an extreme amount of time and stress to facilitate almost zero learning.

    1. Agreed. The “virtual learning” and such is terrible.

  6. We homeschooled this year. It is great in a lot of ways. We pick out curriculums and change it up as we see it. Schedule is totally flexible and up to us. My wife doesn’t have a job outside the home though. Kids spend hours every single day playing with neighborhood kids. We get other social stuff on the calendar too, but could use more regular structured things that have gone to crap lately like sports.

    1. “but could use more regular structured things that have gone to crap lately like sports.”

      You might have to increase tuition fees you charge your students to pay for sports equipment and facilities.

      1. ^THIS. Current Commie-School sucks up $15K per student per year. Homeschooling is doing it for free and STILL PAYING the commie-bill for NOTHING.

        Let’s say you home-school 15-kids. That’s $225,000/yr for 180-days of 6hr work days = 1080 instructional hours / yr

        …….or GET THIS $208/hr

  7. Teachers must convince themselves that they are smarter than, and know what’s best for everyone else. Otherwise, they have no justification for supporting the armed robbery of those who don’t see the value of their “work”.

    1. Correction; Teachers = Democrats.. Teaching the sheeple / criminalistic of mind that the Power to STEAL = Wealth.

  8. “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” ~ Upton Sinclair

  9. Homeschooling is suitable for very clever, very motivated students. V, I, Lenin was expelled from Kazan University for political activity shortly after entering. He was 17 years old. He continued studying by himself and after 4 years he passed the exams with a first and was practicing law.

  10. If you cannot PAY for your children please visit your STATE’S welfare office. There is NO EXCUSE for forcefully putting every American on a welfare program.

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  14. Nice post, thanks for sharing.

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