Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Condition of Homeschooling

People are always curious about the number of homeschoolers in the US. According to a new report by the Department of Education, The Condition of Education, here are some of the government's latest statistics on homeschoolers:
In 2007, the number of homeschooled students was about 1.5 million, an increase from 850,000 in 1999 and 1.1 million in 2003 (see table A-6-1).
According to the report this number represents about 2.9 percent of all school-age children. Of those 1.5 million her are some interesting facts:
More White students were homeschooled than Black or Hispanic students or students from other racial/ethnic groups, and White students constituted the majority of homeschooled students (77 percent)...

Students in two-parent households made up 89 percent of the homeschooled population, and those in two-parent households with one parent in the labor force made up 54 percent of the homeschooled population...

In 2007, students in households earning between $25,001 and $75,000 per year had higher rates of homeschooling than their peers from families earning $25,000 or less a year.
The most common reason cited for homeschooling was:
a desire to provide religious or moral instruction (36 percent of students) (see table A-6-2)
The definition used for homeschooling in this study was the following:
Students are considered to be homeschooled if (1) they are ages 5-17 in a grade equivalent to at least kindergarten and no higher than 12th grade; (2) their parents report them as being schooled at home instead of at a public or private school for at least part of their education; and (3) their part-time enrollment in public or private schools does not exceed 25 hours per week. Students who are schooled at home primarily because of a temporary illness are not considered to be homeschooled students.
Given that Michigan homeschoolers do no reporting to anyone, I'm not sure if we would be considered part of the 1.5 million homeschoolers. Does that mean the numbers are low? According to this report, the number of students homeschooling has increased but is that because existing homeschoolers had more children Or because more families decided to homeschool? It is difficult to tell from the report.

How did USA Today report the findings?
"Parents who homeschool their children are increasingly white, wealthy and well-educated — and their numbers have nearly doubled in less than a decade, according to findings out today from the federal government."
Does the wording make homeschooling sound a bit elitist to you?

Update: The USA Today has been modified. The first paragraph now reads:
"Parents who home-school children increasingly are white, wealthy and well-educated — and their numbers have nearly doubled in a decade, a new federal government report says. (change in bold.)
Not that this makes it sound less elitist but it does clarify things a bit. We were wondering how homeschoolers become "increasingly white." What's even more confusing is the second paragraph. which now reads:
"What else has nearly doubled? The percentage of girls who are home-schooled. They now outnumber home-schooled girls by a wide margin."
So what's the difference between "girls who are home-schooled" and "home-schooled girls" anyway? I'm sure they meant boys, but given that this article was modified from the first version I posted, you'd think the editors would be a lot more careful the second time around. (It's been fixed.)

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