Homeschooling Growth in the 1980s

Copyright © 2013 Karl M. Bunday, all rights reserved.

Homeschooling was growing rapidly in the 1980s in the United States, after starting from a very small base. I noted this in a paragraph I wrote in the early part of 1990 as part of a research paper for a law professor, which I updated later that year.

Homeschooling is growing rapidly in the United States, with hundreds of thousands of children now being taught by their parents at home instead of in public or private classroom schools. The private, decentralized nature of homeschooling makes accurate estimates of the numbers of homeschoolers difficult; moreover, some persons estimating numbers of homeschoolers purposely err on the low side, while others prefer to err on the high side. Alfie Kohn, an editor of Psychology Today magazine, reported estimates of the homeschooling population that ranged from an intentionally low estimate "in the low five figures" before 1985, as well as an estimate erring "on the side of hyperbole" from 1988 of one million children being taught in home schools. Alfie Kohn, "Home Schooling," Atlantic, April 1988, pp. 20, 21. Kohn concluded in 1988 that a good estimate current to early 1988 would be 200,000 to 300,000 children taught at home. Michael P. Farris, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), estimated the homeschooling population in the United States at the beginning of 1990, describing a figure of 300,000 children educated at home as one based on "the most conservative estimates," and pointing out that that figure exceeds the number of public school pupils in the states of Vermont, Delaware, and Wyoming combined. Michael P. Farris, "The Berlin Wall and American Education," Teaching Home, February-March 1990, p. 56. The National Home Education Research Institute published data late in 1990 suggesting the number of school age children educated at home may be as high as 470,000. "How Many Home-Schooled Children Are There?," Home School Court Report, Christmas 1990, p. 5. Several earlier writers have suggested that homeschooling would grow even faster in the United States if states had more liberal homeschooling laws; observers generally agree that the number of parents involved in homeschooling is growing, uncertain, and limited at present by fear of legal sanctions. Stephen Arons, Compelling Belief: The Culture of American Schooling (1983), p. 125 (reporting parental fears of prison terms or losing custody of children); John Naisbitt, Megatrends: Ten New Directions Transforming Our Lives (1982), pp. 142-45; John Whitehead & Wendell R. Bird, Home Education and Constitutional Liberties (1984), pp. 18-19; Alfie Kohn, "Home Schooling," Atlantic, April 1988, pp. 20, 21.

Other Pages of This FAQ

Feel free to browse the other pages of the Homeschooling Is Growing Worldwide FAQ, besides this Homeschooling Growth in the 1980s page, for more detailed information. The overall structure of the FAQ is like the outline below:
Homeschooling Is Growing Worldwide (main page of homeschool growth FAQ)
Overview of growth trends in the number of home-schooled children around the world.
Homeschooling in Minnesota
Official statistics on homeschooling in Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 Homeschoolers, with links to state organizations.
Homeschooling in Missouri
Links to resources on homeschooling in Missouri.
Homeschooling in North Carolina
Official statistics on homeschooling in North Carolina.
Homeschooling in Virginia
Official statistics on homeschooling in Virginia, with links to state organizations.
Homeschooling Growth in the 1980s [this page]
Homeschooling growth trends in the United States in the 1980s, as recorded in a 1990 research paper.
Homeschooling in the United Kingdom
Basic information about homeschooling in The United Kingdom, a country with thousands of homeschoolers.
Homeschooling in Canada
Basic information and links about homeschooling in Canada, a country with thousands of homeschoolers.
More specific pages for states of the United States and for countries around the world will be added as my schedule permits. Please send me any information you have about the number of homeschoolers in any place you know about.

[Last revision 9 March 2013]

Feel free to come back to the Learn in Freedom™ page ( and to the main Homeschooling Is Growing Worldwide page ( again soon!

This School Is Dead: Homeschooling Growth in the 1980s page is copyright © 2013 Karl M. Bunday, all rights reserved.

A general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another: and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the predominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, a priesthood, an aristocracy, or the majority of the existing generation in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by a natural tendency to one over the body.
John Stuart Mill On Liberty (1859)
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