Make homeschooling cool again

The most shameful part of the pandemic may be the refusal of public schools around the country to reopen. The yearlong closures, however, have yielded one unintended benefit: Thousands of parents are leaving public schools in favor of homeschooling.

The number of students who homeschool more than doubled this past year, the U.S. Census Bureau found. During the first phase of the pandemic, from April to May, about 5.4{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} of U.S. households reported that they homeschooled. By the fall, that number had jumped to 11.1{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}.

Notably, the uptick in homeschooling spanned across all demographics. For example, the number of black households that started homeschooling in 2020 increased more than fivefold, from 3.3{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} to 16.1{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} within a three- to five-month span.

Some parts of the country withdrew from the public school system at a greater rate. In Massachusetts, for instance, the number of homeschooling families increased from 1.5{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} to 12.1{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}. In Texas, parents pulled their children out of the system at a historically high rate of 2,590{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}. In Connecticut, the number of students who left public schools to be homeschooled jumped fivefold, and in Nebraska, that number went up by 56{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}.

This trend speaks for itself: The public school system was not serving these families’ needs, so the parents who were able to decided to do something about it. They joined homeschooling pods, started using their own curriculum, and introduced a more flexible learning schedule to balance schooling and the daily demands of their jobs. And even if they didn’t have experience teaching, most parents understood that whatever they had to offer their children was better than the distance learning disaster that the public school system had introduced.

“They were having to build the ship as we go,” Sandra Cox, a North Carolina mother, said of the sudden switch to remote learning. “But after they built the ship? It still wasn’t floating.”

Whether these families will stick with homeschooling after schools get back up and running is another question. Vanderbilt University’s Joseph Murphy, an education expert who studies homeschooling, said he wouldn’t be surprised if a majority of the parents who switched to homeschooling decide that they want to stick with it. At the very least, he said, families that have had to be more hands-on this year will continue to be more involved, even if they do return to charter, private, or public schools eventually.

“We are in a major shift from how we thought about teaching children and running schools for 100 years,” Murphy told the Wall Street Journal. “Parents have shifted to the place where they feel they need more direct involvement and greater responsibility for what happens with their children.”

This is great. Studies prove that the more involved the parents are in a child’s education, the better the child will do. That is why homeschooled students tend to do better on standardized tests and graduate from colleges at a much higher rate than other students — they’re getting the direct guidance and encouragement that they need.

The pandemic proved how difficult it can be for children to learn and succeed when they’re not receiving this kind of guidance. And if the public school system can’t give it to them, parents ought to look elsewhere.

Next Post

Let there be life! Scientists create single-cell organism that reproduces

Fri Apr 2 , 2021
Scientists have managed to create a single-celled synthetic organism that can successfully reproduce, in a new study by J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). The JCVI-syn3A organism has 672 genes in its DNA, making it one of […]