RALEIGH — The number of homeschool filings for 2020 filed between July 1 and Aug. 24 was close to triple that filed in 2019.
The state received 10,281 Notice of Intent (NOI) filings between July 1 and Aug. 24; whereas, 3,529 were received in 2019. The number of requests to reopen a homeschool more than doubled as well. The Department of Non-Public Instruction (DNPE), which is within the Department of Administration (DOA), has received 767 reopen requests for 2020 versus 321 for 2019.
A reopened homeschool refers to cases where a homeschool sent a notification of closure to the state, but for whatever reason have changed course and are requesting to reopen their school.
According to DOA’s assistant communications director Aldesha Gore, NOIs are received on “a rolling basis throughout the school year” because there is no deadline for NOI submissions. That means the number could be much higher this month following Gov. Roy Cooper’s announcement that only elementary students will be allowed to return for daily in-person instruction.
The growth of homeschooling in North Carolina has been explosive, jumping from 43,316 schools and 77,065 students in 2009-10 to 94,863 schools 149,173 students in 2019-20. That’s a 119% increase in the number of homeschools and a 93% increase in the homeschool student population, according to DNPE records.
North Carolina has the largest K-12 homeschool population in the country. If homeschools were their own district, based on student population, it would be the third-largest district in the state behind the Wake County and Charlotte-Mecklenburg school districts. EdChoice.org’s data shows that around 8% of North Carolina K-12 students are homeschooled. This is more than double the next top state, Arkansas.
The boom in homeschooling can partly be attributed as a reaction by parents to school closures and lack of in-person instruction due to the coronavirus pandemic. The overall public approval of homeschooling, and school choice in general, however, has been consistent, and in some cases, has grown.
Recently, the Manhattan Institute commissioned Rasmussen Reports to conduct a poll of likely voters in the battleground states of Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin which included questions on school choice and charter schools.
Poll results showed 46%–52% of the respondents support the idea that giving parents the right to choose their children’s school raises the overall quality of K–12 education for students. Only 18%–20% said that choice lowered educational quality. Notably, the poll showed that between 43%-49% of black respondents believe that school choice raises educational quality.
“Between 66% and 70% of all respondents supported the concept of publicly funded K–12 school choice. This support was higher among black respondents in all states but North Carolina,” the executive summary reads. More specifically, black respondents who support or strongly support publicly funded K-12 school choice for Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin totaled 77%, with Ohio at 72% and North Carolina at 65%.
The report also states that “between 51% and 62% of all respondents supported state funding of charter schools as an alternative to traditional local district-managed public schools. This support was higher for black respondents in all states and ranged from 58% to 67%.”