Home school growth continues in Polk County

Published 2:12 pm Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The number of home school students represents about 12 percent of the county&squo;s public school enrollment this past year of 2,622, including pre-K students.

Although the rate of growth has slowed in recent years, the number of home schools has climbed steadily in Polk County and across the state ever since the state legally recognized home schools in 1985.

Home schools were officially legalized in North Carolina on May 7, 1985 as a result of a decision on that date by the N.C. Supreme Court in Delconte v. North Carolina. On June 20, 1988, the North Carolina General Assembly enacted legislation defining a home school and making specific legal requirements for them.

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Twenty years ago Polk County had an estimated 12 home school students. Ten years later the total had ballooned to 106 students.

Statewide, the numbers have increased at a similar pace. In the 1988-1989 school year, the state had just 1,385 home schools were 2,325 students. Ten years later, the total climbed to 12,733 schools and 21,500 students, and this past year there were 41,042 home schools and 77,065 home school students, the highest number on record.

While the numbers have increased, the percentage of home schools that are religious in nature has declined slightly. In 1988-1989, about 80 percent of the home schools in the state were religious. This past year 66 percent were religious.

Males continue to represent a slight majority of the state&squo;s home school enrollment as they have for the past 20 years. In 2008-09 males represented 51.6 percent of the enrollment.

The number of home school students by age increases in the state from age six (2,557) up to age 12 (7,789) and then declines to age 17 (5,015).

The numbers for home schools are actual numbers, while the number of students is based on a random sampling of the schools.

The counties with the largest number of home schools included Wake (3,771), Mecklenburg (2,956) and Buncombe (1,637).&bsp; Counties with the least number of home schools were Alleghany (39), Hyde (29) and Tyrrell (22).

Home schools are defined in G.S. 115C-563(a) as &dquo;a non-public school in which one or more children of not more than two families or households receive academic instruction from parents or legal guardians, or a member of either household.&dquo;