by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Data can be hard to pin down, but estimates suggest about 4 percent of U.S. kids are now homeschooled. … The 1980s campaign to get religious and conservative parents to jettison public schools was largely a failure. Homeschooling grew, but only slightly, and private school enrollment tanked.
These enrollment trends are decidedly not, however, what parents wish they could do with their kids. Currently, approximately 86 percent of U.S. children attend public schools. Yet only 33 percent of Americans, in the latest national poll, consider public schooling their top choice. Fifteen percent say their top choice is a charter school — a privately run, independent public school — and the plurality, 42 percent, say their top choice is a private school. Homeschooling is the first choice of 7 percent.
So there’s a large gap between what American parents want for their children and what they are settling for. Other polls reflect that. Ninety-three percent of private-school parents are satisfied with their child’s school. So are 90 percent of homeschoolers. Seventy-three percent of public-school parents are “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with their child’s school, a 20-point drop.
Those numbers combine both “satisfied” and “very satisfied.” If you take out the “very satisfied” proportion, the gap widens even more. “Parents were twice as likely to say they were very satisfied with their private school experience compared to the proportion who said they were very satisfied with district schools,” the poll report notes.