Homeschooling as a vast unplanned experiment

Our hope is that untold parents abandon government education post-pandemic…

While the nation squares off in conflicts between the left and the right about when the country should reopen, parents everywhere have been coping with what Kevin Carey of the New America think tank called “a vast unplanned experiment in mass homeschooling.”

For many parents (and students), this was uncharted territory as they grappled with online learning and zoom meetings, and a lot more parental involvement than ever before.

Clearly, school closures are hard on many parents, especially those who need to work. Even for those able to stay home with their kids, it’s a shock to the system to realize they’re now in charge of making sure the young minds in their care don’t atrophy during this unprecedented situation.

However, not everyone is viewing school closures as a disaster. For decades, schools have become de facto one-stop babysitters, day cares, nannies, restaurants and indoctrination centers. Stepping back from this monopoly may prove to be a silver lining to the dark cloud of hardship so many people face. Some are viewing school closures as an opportunity, not an insurmountable obstacle.

Having children take a break from government-controlled “education” means they’re removed from influences parents may vaguely know about, but haven’t fully considered. This can include a dumbed-down, one-size-fits-all curriculum; bullying; classroom distractions; indoctrination in such issues as climate change, transgenderism and sex ed; bathroom and locker room etiquette with children of the opposite gender; and even regular time-wasting classroom necessities such as roll call and discipline.

Many parents are discovering homeschooling isn’t as scary as they’d been told. Their children are thriving and learning, and these parents may realize government indoctrination isn’t a good thing.

This has caused a frantic and fretful push-back among educational elites. Having closed all the schools and provided distance learning opportunities, educators now find themselves in the paradoxical position of trying to convince parents they’re doing a lousy job and only they, the educators, can teach.

Kevin Huffman, a former education commissioner of Tennessee and partner at a nonprofit that promotes public schools, penned an op-ed in late March for the Washington Post entitled “Homeschooling During the Coronavirus Will Set Back a Generation of Children.” He claimed the children sent home due to the coronavirus school closures are going to suffer academically (without ever explaining what choice parents had), then cherry-picks disturbing data to support his dire claims.

And in a hilariously rip-roaring 80-page diatribe, Harvard law professor Elizabeth Bartholet wants homeschooling banned for the unforgivable crime of giving parents “authoritarian” control over their children. She calls home education “dangerous” because it prevents children from receiving a meaningful education, leaves them open to child abuse and can socially isolate them. She laments that homeschoolers often don’t expose their children to ideas such as secularism, atheism, feminism and value relativism.

Yet Harvard – among many other Ivy League schools – “actively” recruits homeschoolers because of their superior academic credentials. Has anyone told this to Ms. Bartholet? I think she might have missed the memo.

So how do children feel about staying home from school? Sure, they’re away from their friends; but they’re also away from bullies, peer pressure and classroom antics.

As it turns out, close to 90 percent of children enjoy being out of the school environment and home with their family. Who’da thunk? I guess family life isn’t the oppressive environment Harvard professors would like to think it is.

Even more interesting, a RealClear Opinion Research poll found that 40 percent of families are more likely to choose to homeschool their children or engage in virtual learning once the coronavirus pandemic subsides, as many families are seeing “the inadequacies of school districts that are too inflexible.”

One student explained why. In a poignant letter from a New York City eighth grader published (rather surprisingly) in the New York Times, 13-year-old Veronique Mintz explained the realities of the environment in public schools and why she’s learning so much more at home.

“Talking out of turn. Destroying classroom materials. Disrespecting teachers. Blurting out answers during tests. Students pushing, kicking, hitting one another and even rolling on the ground,” she writes. “This is what happens in my school every single day. You may think I’m joking, but I swear I’m not. … Students unable or unwilling to control themselves steal valuable class time, often preventing their classmates from being prepared for tests and assessments. I have taken tests that included entire topics we never mastered, either because we were not able to get through the lesson or we couldn’t sufficiently focus. … The fact that I am learning so much better away from the classroom shows that something is wrong with our system.”

“In this,” observes the College Fix, “COVID-19 may be a blessing. It has shown a viable educational alternative to those who previously may have been unaware of it. And there won’t be any going back.”

This sentiment is echoed by Corey DeAngelis, Reason Foundation’s director of School Choice, on a John Stossel TV video: “Mass homeschooling during this pandemic may actually be a blessing in disguise. … We have a lot of examples of families saying that they’re going to switch from the government-run school system to homeschooling, post-pandemic.

“As American children were sent home, parents filled the internet complaining about their online assignments as unproductive make-work and sometimes propaganda,” noted Joy Pullmann, executive editor of The Federalist, “The question for these parents, and for the taxpayers sponsoring this sad excuse for an education, is: What makes you think things are any better during the rest of the school year you don’t see? The next question is: What are you going to do about it?”

In an article entitled “The School Closures Are A Big Threat To The Power Of Public Education,” Mises Institute senior editor Ryan McMaken writes, “With the image of schools as indispensable social institutions quickly fading, the political advantage they have long enjoyed will rapidly disappear as well,” and he predicts severe budget cuts as parents abandon public education.

What will be the fallout from this “vast unplanned experiment in mass homeschooling”? Only time will tell. However the numbers are encouraging. If 40 percent of publicly schooled children actually transitioned to homeschooling, it would break the back of the government monopoly on education, encouraging competition among schools, and permit free thinking.

In short, there may be a very powerful silver lining to this nationwide disruption: More children will be freed from the tyranny of public education.

Let us hope so!

Written by Patrice Lewis for World Net Daily ~ May 22, 2020

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