As parents continue discovering concerns of safety and indoctrination in Texas’ government schools, data from the Texas Education Agency shows that a trend towards homeschooling noticed during the COVID era is continuing.
The Texas Home School Coalition (THSC) submitted an open records request for data from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) regarding the number of withdrawals from government schools to homeschools.
In the 2021-2022 school year, there were 29,785 withdrawals for students in grades 7-12. This number indicates the record highs of withdrawals during the COVID-19 era are continuing, as the 2020-2021 school year saw 29,845 students in grades 7-12 leave government schools.
TEA does not track the number of students withdrawn before 7th grade, which means the total number of students withdrawn is likely higher.
“Despite many commentators theorizing that the homeschool exodus from public schools would slow after Covid, it instead appears to be keeping pace,” noted THSC’s Vice President of Policy & Engagement Jeremy Newman.
“Before COVID-19, 20,000-25,000 students in grades 7-12 withdrew to homeschool each year,” added Newman. “Since Covid, that number has reached nearly 30,000 and appears to be staying there.”
Newman told Texas Scorecard, “The data on this is definitely anecdotal (no real comprehensive studies have been done since Covid), but the most common thing we hear from parents is ‘I just can’t believe what is going on in the schools.’”
According to Newman, parents’ chief concerns appear to fall into three categories: school safety, parental involvement, and the school environment.
“Many parents feel like putting their children in public school is a roll of the dice on their child’s future, and they aren’t willing to do it,” said Newman. “The school system’s falling academic performance, parental concerns about school safety and bullying, the endless parade of frontline political battles in the classroom… all of these contribute to an environment where many parents feel like if they want any influence at all in how their child is raised and educated, they cannot put their children in the public school system.”
Newman said COVID didn’t create these problems, but rather revealed them:
“People thought the homeschool numbers would go back down after Covid. They haven’t because the problems that have driven the growth of homeschooling predate Covid. Covid just revealed them.”
THSC estimates that 8-10 percent of students in Texas are currently homeschooled.
Meanwhile, Texas is preparing for a special legislative session later this year on education issues. Gov. Greg Abbott made school choice a personal priority, but it failed to pass both chambers of the Texas Legislature before the end of the regular session.
The special session is expected to be called later this fall—as the Texas Senate is currently bogged down in the impeachment trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.