The Texas Education Agency (TEA), tasked with overseeing public education, tracks withdrawals of students from grades 7 to 12. Due to the limited scope, THSC says the measured percentage increase is “undoubtedly lower than reality.” THSC also told The Texan that younger ages are “likely to be the highest withdrawal rates of all.”
The data is compiled a year after the school year ends, causing a delay in reporting.
According to data from the TEA provided by THSC, 25,771 non-charter public school students moved to homeschool — a 40 percent increase from the 2019-2020 school year. The percentage of homeschool withdrawals from charter schools actually eclipsed traditional public school exits, but the raw number of students was far lower.
Only 4,075 charter school students withdrew to begin home school, a 44 percent increase from the year before. In both categories, the 2019-2020 school year featured a decline from the previous year.
During the 2020-2021 school year, there were approximately 5.3 million students enrolled in Texas public schools, and 365,930 in charter schools.
Re-enroll numbers, students that withdrew to attend home school but then rejoined their public school, remained relatively flat.
The number of students re-enrolling in non-charter public schools from homeschooling decreased in 2020-2021, and the total of re-enrolls in charter schools increased by 18 percent.
But in raw numbers, both figures were substantially less than 3,000 total students.
Back in January 2021, the TEA published a report that showed a steep enrollment decline in Texas’ public schools. It indicated that burnout from online learning implemented during the height of the coronavirus pandemic drove much of the steep decline.
While the picture is unclear without the 2021-2022 data, this information does not indicate a massive re-enrollment of students who left due to measures taken during the pandemic.
That enrollment trend has now continued two years in a row, and THSC believes the causes expand beyond school closures.
“While the closing of schools during the pandemic was a major factor in this growth of homeschooling, more families now cite concern over the public school environment and the quality of academics as a reason they chose to homeschool,” THSC said.
“Many families cite concern over controversial topics being taught in the schools like critical race theory and modern gender theory.”
Opposition to those two issues has revved up over the last couple of years. The Texas Legislature passed a bill aimed at restricting the teaching of critical race theory in schools, though its effectiveness and adherence to the bill itself is debated.
During the interim, the spotlight on gender-focused classroom themes and sexually obscene classroom materials has also grown.
In the May local election, school board candidates who opposed politicized curriculum of the type THSC mentions won resoundingly across the state.
TEA did not return a request for comment by publishing time.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.