Elizabeth Bartholet, a Harvard Law School professor, sparked debate in May 2020 by calling for a presumptive ban on home schooling. Home-schooled children, Ms. Bartholet asserted, are less likely than their school-attending peers to receive a “meaningful education” and more likely to be subject to physical abuse or indoctrination by “extreme religious ideologues.”
Eighteen months later, the debate still rages. Parents opted to try home schooling in unprecedented numbers during the pandemic. While home-schoolers accounted for 5.4% of all school-age children during the 2019-20 school year, that figure had more than doubled to 11.1% by the start of 2020-21. Many of those students will eventually return to public or private schools, but it seems certain that a sharp increase in home schooling will be one lasting consequence of the pandemic.