Thirty years ago, according to Michael Smith, President of the Home School Legal Defense Association, there were “only an estimated 20,000 homeschooled children (in the United States)”(HomeSchooling Community Grows Beyond 2 Million, 2011). As of ten years ago that number grew to approximately 850,000 children whose parents chose to provide their education at home; today that number stands closer to 2 million (Homeschooling, 2011).
In the past, that number was usually reflective of a predominantly Christian movement; parents who opted to provide a stronger religious component to their children’s education than the public school system could constitutionally provide (Home Schooling Grows in Popularity in America; 2011). According to the US Department of Education’s National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), the choice to educate children at home for religious reasons had increased from 72% to 83% from 2003 to 2007 (1.5 Million Homeschooled Students in the United States in 2007; 2008). So in this regard, not much has changed. Of the number of households who opted to homeschool their children, religious or moral reasons continue to be their highest concern. So while this trend continues, it’s but one slice of an ever-growing pie.
The NCES study reports a marked rise of “the homeschooling rate (from 1.7% in 1999 to 2.2% in 2003 to 2.9% in 2007) represent(ing) a 74% relative increase over (an) 8-year period… a 36% relative increase since 2003 alone”. While the majority of parents who chose to educate their children at home for religious factors remain to be the majority of respondents (36%); it’s a majority made up of just 1/3 of those asked.