Lost amid the high-volume discussions of private school vouchers, charter schools and Common Core, home schools are a hidden giant in North Carolina, one that demands more attention from legislators and educators.
As other newspapers have reported this week, the number of children enrolled in home schools in North Carolina has doubled during the past 10 years. Today, there are more students enrolled in home schools than there are in private schools statewide.
Nash County had 968 students enrolled in 600 home schools in the 2013-14 school year. Edgecombe County had 343 students enrolled in 215 such schools.
Statewide, there were 98,172 students enrolled in 60,950 home schools in 2013-14, according to statistics provided by the Office of Non-Public Education in North Carolina.
Parents often cite overcrowded conditions of public school classrooms and the high cost of private schools as reasons to educate their children at home. Kids with special needs can receive special attention, and a curriculum can include regular outings to places such as the Imperial Centre for Arts and Sciences in Rocky Mount or the plethora of museums in Raleigh.
But the growing trend affects public education funding in ways that should further concern educators already worried about losing money to charter schools and, more recently, private school vouchers. As student populations decline in a school system, so does the amount of money the state allocates to that system.
Home school advocates, understandably, want to protect their turf. But considering their growin numbers, North Carolina educators and legislators would be short-sighted if they didn’t begin discussing the impact of this growing trend.
Better to start talking about the ramfications of the growing home school phenomenon now than wait until later.