Where is homeschooling most popular? States by the numbers

Surprisingly, no one has published homeschooling rates per capita for different states, so I’ve mashed together some census data to figure that out. Unfortunately, only about half of the states publish how many homeschoolers there are in their state.

Initially I tried using an estimate for the other states but the results didn’t feel plausible, so I’ve decided to stick with the states I have actual data for.

Location % Children 0-18 # Homeschoolers Tot Pop % Homeschooled
Alaska 0.27 11,875 738,432 5.95606
North Carolina 0.24 118,268 10,042,802 4.90683
West Virginia 0.22 11,080 1,844,128 2.73103
Arkansas 0.25 19,229 2,978,204 2.58263
New Hampshire 0.2 6,655 1,330,608 2.50074
Oregon 0.22 21,767 4,028,977 2.45573
Montana 0.23 5,262 1,032,949 2.21485
Delaware 0.22 3,051 672,228 2.06302
Maine 0.2 5,467 1,329,328 2.05630
Florida 0.21 83,359 20,271,272 1.95818
Maryland 0.24 27,742 6,006,401 1.92447
Vermont 0.2 2,384 626,042 1.90403
South Dakota 0.26 3,858 858,469 1.72848
Nebraska 0.26 8,290 1,896,190 1.68151
Utah 0.32 16,085 2,995,919 1.67780
Virginia 0.24 33,415 8,382,993 1.66085
Wyoming 0.25 2,296 586,107 1.56695
Wisconsin 0.23 20,002 5,771,337 1.50685
Minnesota 0.24 18,772 5,489,594 1.42482
Washington 0.24 21,213 7,170,351 1.23268
Georgia 0.26 31,527 10,214,860 1.18707
Colorado 0.24 7,659 5,456,574 0.58484
Connecticut 0.22 1,836 3,590,886 0.23241

Things that stand out

Alaska at the top makes sense but I’m surprised that North Carolina is such a strong second place. Almost 5% of children are homeschooled there, while nearby West Virgina, in 3rd place, is closer to half of that rate! That seems unlikely–perhaps it is a quirk of the data.

I’m not surprised to see mostly red states at the top of the rankings. I’ve the impression that homeschoolers are mostly trying to shelter their children from a public hostile to their values. Given that educators are heavily left-leaning, it’s hardly surprising that it’s disproportionately conservatives who have decided to opt out of these institutions.

I am surprised to see Appalachian states like North Carolina and West Virgina above some of the more libertarian inter-mountain West like Montana. Colorado’s placing is especially disappointing here. It is strange, too, that Washington fares so much worse than Oregon. The states may be more different than I thought.

Notice, too, the divide between two groups of red states: West Virgina and North Carolina on the many-homeschoolers end of the spectrum and Georgia on the other. This may be due to cultural differences between Appalachia and the more authoritarian deep south. (Georgia’s significant black population likely also plays a role, with whites much more likely to homeschool than other races.)

Notably, in such an Appalachian versus Plantation divide, Arkansas falls firmly into the Appalachian group based on this homeschooling data. This is exactly the perspective of Woodard’s 11 American nations grouping, with the Ozark region as distinctly Appalachian in flavor:

Delaware has more homeschoolers than I imagined. At first I thought “maybe it’s because all of the libertarians moving there via the Free State Project“, and then I realized that’s actually New Hampshire. Oops.

Perhaps the laws are particularly agreeable there? I applied a custom filter to the “Freedom in the 50 States” project to only take into account homeschooling freedom. Here’s what that map looks like:

You can play with this chart yourself by clicking here.

As you can see, Delaware does not fair particularly well, so why there are so many homeschoolers there remains a mystery.

The chart does, however, explain why Connecticut ranks so poorly: it comes in at #50, the state most hostile to homeschoolers. Maybe that’s why everyone wants to leave.

Anyway, if you’d like to download this table and play with it yourself, click here.


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