The Texas Home School Coalition has seen an increase in interest in home schooling following the recent school shootings.
Texas Home School Coalition says it has been busy for months with inquiries after this year’s shootings in Parkland, Florida and Santa Fe, Texas.
“When the Parkland shooting happened, our phone calls and emails exploded,” said coalition president Tim Lambert. “In the last couple of months, our numbers have doubled. We’re dealing with probably between 1,200 and 1,400 calls and emails per month, and prior to that it was 600 to 700.”
Parents say they are also concerned about the environment of schools.
“One of the things we’ve seen definitely an uptick in the last five years is the aspect of violence. It’s the bullying. That is off the charts,” said Christopher Chin, president of Homeschool Louisiana.
“I think what happens with these school shootings is they’re the straws that broke the camel’s back,” Chin said. “I don’t think it’s the major decision-maker, but it’s in the back of parents’ minds.”
Brian D. Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute in Salem, Oregon, says there are three main reasons why parents choose homeschooling: to provide religious instruction or different values, dissatisfaction with the school’s curriculum, and worries about the school environment.
“Most parents homeschool for more than one reason,” he said. “But when we ask families why do they homeschool, near the top nowadays is concern about the environment of schools, and that includes safety, pressure to get into drugs, pressure to get into sexual activity. It includes all of that.”
However, not everyone agrees that homeschooling is the answer.
“Even though it seems we may be protecting them, we may be sheltering them instead of teaching them to work and find a solution for the issues and not necessarily running away from them, because these things are going to happen,” said Takisha Coats Durm, lead virtual school teacher for the Madison County School System in Huntsville, Alabama.
The U.S. Department of Education estimates there were 1.69 million homeschool students in the spring 2016, but states don’t track those numbers.
Ray says that number is spring 2016 was 2.3 million.
“My bottom-line summary is that it’s been growing at an estimated 2 to 8 percent per year, and that’s compounded,” he said.