- Homeschooling in North Carolina reached an all-time high in the 2013-14 year, with the estimated number of students in K-12 hitting 98,172 students.
- That figure is more than double the estimated number of homeschool students five years ago statewide, but over 90% of North Carolina counties had three-digit increases in homeschooled students over that time period.
- For the first time ever, more North Carolinian students were being homeschooled than attended private schools.
- My home county, Wake County, had the largest number of additional students over the past five years (5,788 new homeschool students) as well as the largest number of homeschool students overall--an estimated total of 9,559 students in the past school year.
- About one out of every ten homeschoolers in North Carolina resides in Wake County.
The author of the article, in commenting on that last statistic, stated "Interestingly, Wake’s homeschool enrollment beat Mecklenburg County by well over 2,000 students." The person who forwarded it to the NC homeschool community (not the person who forwarded it to Cary Homeschoolers) added: "And a surprise for me -- Wake Co has the biggest homeschool population by a considerable margin, even beating Mecklenburg Co (home county of Charlotte)."
But I didn't find it that surprising. I know these commenters are basing that on the fact that Mecklenberg County (the county surrounding Charlotte, NC) has a larger population than Wake County (the county surrounding Raleigh, NC). However, living in Wake County (I don't know where the two people mentioned above live), I know that the Wake County Public School System is the largest in North Carolina, and according to Wikipedia, is the 16th largest district in the country. So if we have the most public school students in the state, it makes sense to me that we have the most homeschool students in North Carolina as well.
Then I started to wonder....given the size of our student population, is the estimated number of Wake County homeschoolers bigger, smaller, or in line with the average percentage of homeschool students in North Carolina? When I went to investigate that, it turns out to be a harder question to answer than I thought. The issue is, as far as I could find, there is no central source of information about ALL North Carolina K-12 students. Statistics about the traditional public schools come from Public Schools of North Carolina, while charter schools report to the Office of Charter School. The data about students in private schools or homeschools is collected in the Division of Non-Public Education (North Carolina treats homeschools as private schools but exempt from most private school regulations if they only education students from a maximum of two families).
So after I tracked down and added together all the figures, here is the pie chart for the breakdown of where North Carolinian K-12 students enroll for their education:
NORTH CAROLINIAN K-12 STUDENTS BY EDUCATION TYPE
WAKE COUNTY K-12 STUDENTS BY EDUCATION TYPE
WAKE COUNTY PERCENTAGES IN DIFFERENT SCHOOL TYPES COMPARED TO THE FACT WAKE COUNTY STUDENTS REPRESENT 11% OF ALL NORTH CAROLINIAN K-12 STUDENTS
However, Wake County is not the county that enrolls the most people in charter schools or in private schools. Mecklenburg County has both the largest numbers and the highest percentages of students in both charter schools and private schools. So apparently, while Mecklenburg has a smaller overall number of K-12 students than Wake County, if families down there are opting out of the public school system, they are more likely to send their children to charter or private schools than they are to homeschool, compared to either Wake County or the state of North Carolina as a whole.
So while I wasn't surprised that Wake County has the largest number of homeschoolers, I was surprised to discover that we are slightly under the statewide average for homeschoolers and that there was such a difference between the number of homeschoolers and private school students. Of course, participation in homeschooling varies greatly between different communities within Wake County. Years ago, I heard from the city planners of our town, Cary (which is just one part of Wake County), that they estimated that more students in Cary were homeschooled than attended private schools. However, I don't have access to the data to confirm or update that statement.
If you want to see the actual numbers behind theses charts, here they are.