Homeschool rates rise alongside school shooting increase

Published: Apr. 10, 2018 at 7:47 PM EDT
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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

News 12 @ 6 O'clock / NBC 26 at 7

AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) – In the 19 years since the deadly shooting at Columbine High School, homeschool rates have gone up 4% across the country. A homeschool community in Aiken is seeing double the enrollment numbers from this year to next.

But, we found, it's difficult to point to just one reason for that increase.

Once a week, a group of home-schooled students in Aiken gather through the program, called Classical Conversations.

“We get to play and we learn and we make new friends,” say siblings Victoria and Joel Hochstetler.

Amy Derrickson is the director of the group and a mom of four.

“I always said I would never be a teacher. I had no interest in it whatsoever,” said Derrickson. “I wanted time with my son. I was handing him over for the bulk of the day and then I was getting what was left over of that time.”

Her list of reasons to homeschool her children has grown over the years, and she has found that’s the case for most homeschool families.

“Some want to have an alternative to the traditional school environment and all that entails. Whether it's safety, bullying, I've talked to moms whose children have been bullied.”

The most recent data from the Department of Education shows these are the top three most important reasons parents list for homeschooling their children – dissatisfaction with academics, desire to provide moral instruction, and concern about school environments is at the top of 91% of parents’ minds.

“We’re not by and large running away from something,” Derrickson explained. “We’re really running to something that we see as a better option.”

Amy says she doesn’t shelter her kids. They have a lot of tough conversations – one being the Parkland shooting earlier this year.

A lot of kids are asking their parents why people are hurting other people in schools. Keeping them away from that is just one of the benefits Judy West sees to homeschooling her kids.

“I would rather be the person to approach my own child, and we have had those discussions, because those discussions lead to questions and those questions, in my opinion, I would like to be the one to answer those questions,” said West.

While homeschooling trends upward, along with school shootings, parents find the extra security an added benefit.

“I’m grateful that in this country, we are free to have our children where we want to have them.”