Happy Toddler girl arriving home from school with a backpack

Homeschooling a Popular Alternative to Public Schools

Spencer Wong

Many Nevada parents, tired of increased woke activism among educators, lax classroom discipline and poorly performing public schools, are embracing homeschooling.

Propelled in part by the COVID-19 pandemic, homeschooling, which is nothing more than parent-directed learning, jumped to more than 13 percent of Nevada families with children by the fall of 2020, when many schools across the state adopted virtual or virtual-in person hybrid schedules. That figure was up from 2.5 percent prior to the pandemic.

But even after schools began reopening, Nevada’s homeschool numbers remained far above what they were before the COVID disruption. While there believed to be tens of thousands of children being homeschooled in Nevada at present, attempts to contact the state Department of Education to determine exact figures were unsuccessful.

Homeschooling is just one option that parents across the state have embraced in response to the state’s overall poorly performing public schools. Other choices include charter schools, private schools and micro-schools.

Evidence that public school alternatives are growing in popularity can be seen in enrollment figures for Clark County public schools. Today, there are fewer students enrolled in public schools in Clark County than five years ago even though the country’s population has grown during this period.

Nationally, K-12 enrollment has dropped 3 percent and trends show areas which were slower to abandon pandemic restrictions have seen a loss of as much as 4.4 percent, according to a U.S. News & World Report story.

Across the U.S., there were about 3.1 million K-12 homeschool students in 2021-2022, according to the National Home Education Research Institute. That compares with 1.7 million a decade earlier.

Parents opt to homeschool their children for many reasons, but nearly all seek to imbue their kids with a good education, critical thinking skills and the ability to succeed in both the post-secondary education environment and the working world.

Many parents nationwide were prompted to move to homeschooling in response to COVID restrictions, but the numbers in Nevada were further boosted by the state’s troubled public school system. The state ranked 49th out of 50 in educational attainment, 42nd in school quality, 46th in best school systems, 48th in master’s degrees, and last in share of doctorate degrees, according to a recent study.

While the Clark County School District, the fifth largest in the nation, has a budget of more than $2.5 billion, larger than the entire government budgets of dozens of countries worldwide, Las Vegas schools ranked second to last among the top 50 metro areas in the United States.

Standardized testing results for Nevada students are also troubling. Just 26 percent of all Nevada high school students passed math, half of the state’s elementary students failed English and language arts, while barely 30 percent of students in fifth, eighth and 10th grade passed the state science exam.

Nevada students also fared poorly on the ACT, which they are required to take in order to graduate. Last year’s graduating class had an average composite score of 19.8 out of 36, marking the first time in more than 30 years the average was below 20.

Homeschooling requires time, dedication and discipline. It’s not for every parent nor is it for every student. But it does offer academic flexibility, the opportunity to change the pace of instruction as needed and focused instruction for those willing to put in the effort.

State requirements for parents interested in homeschooling can be found here. More information on homeschooling in the state can be found on the Home School Legal Defense Association’s page.