Size and Scope

“Home schooling in the United States is the necessary concomitant of a culture in which the Church is being opposed on every level of her existence and, as a consequence, given the widespread secularization in our country, home schooling is not only valuable or useful but it is absolutely necessary for the survival of the Catholic church in our country.”  – Fr. John Hardon

Fr. John Hardon was not alone when he said that homeschooling is absolutely necessary for the survival of the Catholic Church in America. The Catholic Homeschooling Movement in the United States has grown at a phenomenal rate over the past two decades. Its growth has been remarkable, not only because of the numbers involved, but also because of the life-altering nature of the decision to homeschool. Catholic homeschooling parents sacrifice much for the sake of their children’s spiritual and physical well-being, for they judge that passing on the faith to their children and raising young men and women of virtue is more valuable than the free time or second income they could otherwise be enjoying.

At present, the number of students receiving a Catholic home education is estimated to be between 80,000 and 100,000. Although there is no hard statistical data on the number of Catholic homeschoolers, this estimate is derived from the number of total homeschoolers in the country and the number of students enrolled in the Catholic home study programs.

Homeschooling in general boasts impressive statistics, with the number of homeschoolers in the United States estimated at between 1.9 million and 2.4 million for the 2005-2006 academic year. This number is almost equivalent to the total enrollment of all Catholic schools in the country, which in the 2007-2008 academic year was 2,270,913. Observation and experience indicate that Catholics make up around five percent, or a little less, of the total number of homeschoolers in this country, and so 80,000-100,000 appears to be a fair estimate.

As for the total enrollment in the Catholic home study programs, this number is around 20,000 taking into consideration the five primary programs along with the lesser known and smaller programs. Seton Home Study School is by far the largest home study program with an enrollment of over 11,000. Kolbe Academy’s homeschool program and Mother of Divine Grace School are next–both with about 3,000 students; Our Lady of Victory School has about 1,500 students; and Our Lady of the Rosary School, after suffering severe setbacks, has several hundred at last known count. There are a number of smaller programs, and new ones emerge every couple of years. The enrollment numbers of these smaller schools, however, usually do not exceed a couple hundred. Observation and experience indicate that Catholic home study programs account for no less than 20% of Catholic homeschoolers, which once again suggests an 80,000 to 100,000 range. Even if this estimate were to have a large margin of error, it is clearly the must useful estimate in assessing the scope and size of the Catholic Homeschooling Movement.

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