School Choice & Charters

U.S. Secretary of Education Weighs In On Growing Home School Numbers

By Arianna Prothero — September 22, 2016 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

During a breakfast for reporters hosted by the Christian Science Monitor this week, U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. spoke briefly on a form of education that often flies way under the radar: home schooling.

Home schoolers make up only a sliver of the total K-12 student population in the U.S., and it’s certainly not every day that such a high level education official discusses the topic.

The National Center for Education Statistics estimates there are 1.8 million home-schooled students in the country, which was 3.4 percent of the overall K-12 student population in 2012. That’s about double the number of home schoolers 10 years ago.

But that’s a best guess because tracking the size of the population is difficult due to wildly different reporting requirements from state to state.

King was asked by a reporter what he thinks of the recent uptick in homeschooling, especially as more students who are educated at home are entering college, and whether home schooling could be a possible solution to some persistent issues facing education, such as the achievement gap.

Here is King’s response, compliments of my colleague, Education Week reporter Alyson Klein, who was there:

I have certainly seen examples of students who had a great schooling experience. I had college classmates who had home schooled, and experienced tremendous academic success. But on the other hand I worry in a lot of cases students who are home schooled are not getting the kind of breadth of instructional experience they would get in school. They're also not getting the opportunities to develop relationships with peers unless their parents are very intentional about it. And are often not getting those relationships with teachers and mentors other than their parents, again, unless their parents are very intentional about it. I do worry about whether home schooled students are getting the range of options that are good for all kids. But there are examples of them doing incredibly well ..."

The reporter also asked King if there was research on how well home schoolers perform academically. King said he had not seen research around home schooling. He continued:

“I imagine it would be very hard to figure out what it is exactly that you’re capturing as there is such diversity in experiences of home school students.”

As Ed Week’s school choice beat reporter, I can attest to that. There is not much research on the academic performance of home schoolers—and the research that exists comes with a lot of caveats because it’s almost impossible to get a representative sample of students.

The Home School Legal Defense Association, the most visible group on the national level in the home schooling sector (of which there are very few), took some issue with King’s remarks.

“While Secretary King had some good things to say about homeschooling, I’m disappointed that his comments imply that public schoolers have a wider range of options in education, which is simply not true,” HSLDA co-founder Michael Farris said in a statement on the organization’s website.

Related stories:

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Charters & Choice blog.

Commenting has been disabled on effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Choice & Charters Virtual Charters in Hot Water Again. Accusations of Fraud Prompt $150M Lawsuit
Indiana officials seek to recoup more than $150 million they say was either wrongly obtained or misspent by a consortium of virtual schools.
Arika Herron, The Indianapolis Star
2 min read
Indiana's attorney general Todd Rokita speaks at a news conference on Sept. 16, 2020, in Indianapolis. Rokita filed a lawsuit against a group of online charter schools accused of defrauding the state out of millions of dollars Thursday, July 8, 2021.
Indiana's attorney general Todd Rokita speaks at a news conference on Sept. 16, 2020, in Indianapolis.
Darron Cummings/AP
School Choice & Charters How the Pandemic Helped Fuel the Private School Choice Movement
State lawmakers got a new talking point as they pushed to create and expand programs to send students to private schools.
8 min read
Collage showing two boys in classroom during pandemic wearing masks with cropped photo of feet and arrows going in different directions.
Collage by Gina Tomko/EducationWeek (Images: Getty)
School Choice & Charters Opinion Taking Stock After 30 Years of Charter Schools
Rick Hess speaks with Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, on charter schools turning 30.
8 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School Choice & Charters In Fight Over Millions of Dollars for Charter Schools, a Marijuana Tax May Bring Peace
The Oklahoma State Board of Education voted unanimously to rescind a polarizing lawsuit settlement, pending certain stipulations.
Nuria Martinez-Keel, The Oklahoman
3 min read
Money bills cash funds close up Getty