New Mexico data shows dramatic decline in homeschooling

For Albuquerque mom, Laurel Menicucci, the choice to homeschool is easy.

“I’m going to know much quicker, if my child struggles with something, than a teacher is going to know,” she said.

Menicucci is a mother of three and has been homeschooling for four years. But, according to new data, she’s among a dwindling number of like-minded parents.

Laurel Menicucci practices reading with her 4 year old son, Luke Menicucci.
/Photo by Hannah Perry/ NM News Port

Data from the National Home Education Research Institute (NHREI) shows the number of students receiving home-based education peaked in 2011 with 2.3 million students in the United States, but has declined since.

New Mexico’s numbers are consistent with the national trend, but show an even more dramatic decline.

Despite the state’s minimal requirements for home-based education, the amount of students registered for homeschooling in New Mexico has decreased by 78% since the 2011 peak. New Mexico’s numbers have dropped from 33,800 to only 7549 homeschool students in 2018.

After considering Albuquerque Public Schools (APS), Menicucci says she concluded that teachers are unable to give the one-on-one time most children need, so she decided to homeschool to ensure the best possible education for her kids.

“APS is just plain terrible. The rigorous testing, the enforcement of Common Core practices and the indoctrination that is becoming more widespread nationally are all things that I don’t want my kids to be subjected to,” Menicucci says.

APS declined to comment.

“We all have doubts that we aren’t doing enough to educate our children, although when I see what APS teaches I feel much better with how my kids are doing,” Menicucci said.

She says homeschooling has other advantages too, such as flexible scheduling, quicker schooldays and parents being able to determine their child’s curriculum.

“I love that we can do additional things curriculum-wise like study nature, field trips, and music lessons,” she said.

Menicucci has been teaching her two seven year old twin daughters Latin.  

The state’s requirements are some of the most basic in the U.S. and no one from the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) or local school districts is required to checks up on homeschools to ensure they are following the rules.

Some may see the relaxed requirements as a concern, but Daniel Manzano, NMPED’s Chief of Staff, says he sees this as something homeschooling communities celebrate.

“I don’t think a child’s education should come from a broad policy standpoint, but instead from the families,” Manzano says.

According to Manzano, the Public Education Department is currently undergoing changes on how to more accurately collect data. He says that the number of homeschoolers registered are in a decline, but he isn’t sure how exact those numbers really are.  

“We are working to have a better system and are collaborating with CAPE (Christian Association of Parent Educators) to make sure homeschooling is not over regulated and still protecting the students,” Manzano says.

The state Public Education Department declined to give any insight as to why fewer New Mexico students and families are choosing to homeschool, but they intend to continue providing options for those who are interested and more resources for homeschool families, Manzano said.

Hannah Perry is a reporter for New Mexico News Port and can be contacted on Twitter @HannahPerry19_