Nowadays a greater number of students are being homeschooled than ever before, which correlates to a wider cross-section of people. Indeed, according to The News, “The increase in homeschoolers does not come from just a narrow segment of the American population. A University of Washington Bothell analysis found, ‘The diversity of homeschoolers in the U.S. mirrors the diversity of all students nationally,’ including all racial, religious, political, and income groups.”
In 2019, homeschooled K-12 students in the U.S. numbered 2.5 million. By the end of 2020, about 9 million Americans said they had been homeschooled at some point in their lives – many for the first time during the government restrictions on schools due to the pandemic.
The number of homeschool students in the current 2021-2022 school year remains significantly higher than in 2019-2020. This is likely because of more families having experienced the benefits of parent-directed home-based education during the pandemic. “The growth in homeschooling will also continue due to the other stable reasons for homeschooling that have motivated parents over the past 40 years” (NHERI).
The Good, the Bad (and the Ugly?)
It’s nice to know that homeschooling has gone mainstream, practiced by families from all walks of life. With such a diverse population of homeschoolers, there are also bound to be a wide variety of homeschooled individuals. This includes those who turn out good, bad, and, well, ugly (in terms of personality and morals). But even though there are lots of homeschool graduates these days, there aren’t as many who are newsworthy enough to be famous (or infamous as the case may be!).
The homeschoolers on this list have featured prominently in the news and on social media in recent months. They are all notable (or notorious!) for different reasons, both good and bad, but still of interest if you follow the lives of homeschoolers in the news.
Abigail Barlow – Homeschooled TikTok star Abigail Barlow, 23, known for her artful lyricism and unique melodies, was recently named to Forbes prestigious 30 under 30 list. She co-created “The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical” along with Emily Bear. Their album has been nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.
Emily Bear – An award-winning recording artist since her professional debut at age five, homeschooling helped Emily Bear to achieve groundbreaking success as a pianist, composer, producer and singer-songwriter in jazz, classical, pop and musical theater. Now age 20, Bear was recently named to Forbes prestigious 30 under 30 list, and she co-created “The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical” with Abigail Barlow.
Lindsay Lohan – Lohan, now 35, has been a household name since she was a preteen. She is probably best known for her performance in the teen comedy Mean Girls in which, coincidentally, she played a homeschooler. Once a fixture of the tabloid media, she underwent several prominent legal and personal struggles about a decade ago, but has maintained a lower public profile in recent years. On November 28, 2021, Lohan announced her engagement to Bader Shammas, VP of Credit Suisse, after almost two years of dating. The wealthy banker swept Lindsay off her feet after meeting him in Dubai 3 years ago. Lohan shared photos of her fiancé and family in a New Year’s Eve Instagram post.
Julian Assange – It’s been a long odyssey that has taken him from teenage hacker in Melbourne, Australia, to almost seven years holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, to the HM Prison Belmarsh where he is being held as of December 2021. The homeschooled and self-taught Wikileaks founder has been charged under the U.S. Espionage Act for publishing classified military and diplomatic cables. How many times have The New York Times or the Washington Post received classified data that they published, and courts said that the publishers are not the ones who violated the Espionage Act. So then why is Assange being treated any differently? Supporters of Assange cast him as an anti-establishment hero who is being persecuted for exposing U.S. wrongdoing and double-dealing across the world from Afghanistan and Iraq to Washington. Press freedom groups say that he is subjected to a “politically driven prosecution” for publishing details exposing the world’s rich and powerful elites. Assange allegedly took part in publishing emails that Hillary Clinton sent and received when she was Secretary of State as the 2016 presidential election was approaching. A London court recently ruled that Assange can be extradited to the U.S. But he has been fighting extradition, and his lawyers argue that he is a high suicide risk and too ill to stand trial in an American court. Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador had sought a pardon for Julian Assange from President Donald Trump last year, and said that he would offer asylum to Assange, who is now 50. In January 2022, Assange was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his fight for human rights, democracy, and freedom of the press.
Josh Duggar – On December 1, 2014, Homeschooling Teen featured an article about Josh Duggar of TLC’s “19 Kids & Counting” fame. The ultra-conservative Duggars were always the subject of controversy, with not everyone appreciating their reality show or their philosophy. I was never a fan myself, but that article was one of our most popular at the time. However, we decided to take it down after the truth came out about Josh molesting his sisters. It seems that the Duggars’ strict homeschool lifestyle and holier-than-thou attitude dramatically backfired! In 2019, law enforcement raided Josh Duggar’s office on suspicion of his possessing and receiving child pornography. Josh, 33, was found guilty of child porn charges on December 9, 2021. He was taken directly into custody while he awaits sentencing, which will take place in the spring of 2022.
Billie Eilish – Homeschooled singer Billie Eilish, on the other hand, known for her often dark lyrics, recently came out as anti-porn. In a radio interview with Howard Stern, she revealed that she regrets watching pornography beginning at age 11. “I think it really destroyed my brain and I feel incredibly devastated that I was exposed to so much porn,” she added, saying she suffered nightmares because some of the content she watched was so violent and abusive. Eilish, who just turned 20, said she is now angry at herself for thinking it was acceptable to watch porn.
Jonas Brothers – Okay, this will make me sound old, but are the Jonas Brothers even still relevant? Yet they keep popping up! On November 23 they were roasted by Pete Davidson on the Netflix special “Family Roast.” On December 17, the band of homeschooled brothers Kevin, Joe, and Nick (now 34, 32 and 29, respectively) posted a TikTok video filmed at the White House. The trio teamed up with Joe Biden to promote getting vaccinated, strangely enough using the Bing Bong audio from a viral video by the YouTube channel SideTalk, which features a motley crew of eccentrics from Coney Island. After showing the brothers goofing around at the White House, the camera cut to Biden, aka “Joe Byron,” who is heavily referenced in the cringe-worthy video.
Tim Tebow – The 34-year-old former homeschooler and NFL star spoke at the annual Passion Conference’s young adult session on January 2, 2022, saying that all Christians have the same macro-mission to “love God and love others,” but every believer has a different “micro-purpose” specifically designed for them. “You see on the macro, I believe every single one of us has the same mission: To love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and to love your neighbor as yourself. … But, I also believe that every single one of us, we have a micro-mission — something that God has designed exactly for you,” he said. Tebow has engaged in various charitable efforts through his Tim Tebow Foundation. Right now he is concentrating on programs that benefit children with special needs and rescuing girls from trafficking.
Sam Oosterhoff – As the youngest-ever MPP for Niagara West, the political career of this 24-year-old homeschooled Canadian politician has not been without controversy, but still he strives to help his community. On December 1, 2021, he announced that the Regional Municipality of Niagara will receive additional social services relief funding. The funds will be used to support homeless shelter staff and residents, and help prevent more people from becoming homeless. “This new funding also extends care to marginalized and homeless members of our community who do not have a doctor,” said MPP Oosterhoff.
Madison Cawthorn – On November 19, 2021, homeschooled American Congressman Madison Cawthorn joined Rep. Matt Gaetz in offering Kyle Rittenhouse an internship after he was acquitted on all charges that stemmed from shooting three white men who attacked him during the Kenosha riot. In other news, Cawthorn, 26, announced on December 22 that he and his wife, Cristina Bayardelle Cawthorn, 28, had mutually made the “enormously difficult decision” to divorce after realizing there were “irreconcilable differences” between them, exacerbated by being in the public spotlight.
Jenna Ellis – On January 2, homeschool grad and constitutional law attorney Jenna Ellis, 37, predicted how the Supreme Court will rule on high profile abortion cases including the fate of Roe v. Wade in 2022 via NewsmaxTV. The Jenna Ellis Show, a daily podcast on demand, tackles the critical cultural and legal issues our country faces.
Lila Rose – An anti-abortion activist since she was a homeschooled teen, Lila, now 33, continues to serve as president of the pro-life organization Live Action which she founded when she was 16. She and her group have been spreading the word every single day on social media about the injustice of abortion, and sharing powerful stories that affirm life. Moreover, Lila’s investigative reporting did much to expose Planned Parenthood and expose the truth about the abortion industry. She has been named among National Journal’s “25 Most Influential Washington Women Under 35,” and Christianity Today’s “33 under Thirty-Three.” A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Lila lives in California with her husband and son. Rose was a featured speaker at the 18th Annual Walk for Life West Coast on January 22, 2022 in San Francisco.
So… who is good, who is bad, and who is ugly? We’ll let you be the judge of that!