Homeschooling in the News, June 2020.

In the past month, here are a few of the homeschooling articles in the news or opinion sections.

Black and White

Black Americans homeschool for different reasons than whites: A sociologist, Mahala Stewart, interviewed dozens of parents on homeschooling. She believes white parents usually homeschool to get a more tailored education. Conversely, black families often homeschool to remove their children from a “racially hostile environment”.

Stewart reports that white children are twice as likely as black children to be homeschooled. She goes on to discuss other differences between white and black families. There is a discipline referral disparity between black and white children at school. Finally, family income is a factor in the homeschool decision. More affluent families are more likely to be able to work from home, while less affluent are less likely to be able to.

Homeschooling Projected to Increase

COVID-19 is about to trigger a wave of home schooling, and government officials need to prepare:  Jeremy Newman from the Texas Home School Coalition discusses a survey showing 40% of parents responding are more likely to consider homeschool or virtual school because of Covid-19. He writes about the growth in homeschooling in the past two decades, and the reasons for parents choosing to homeschool.

Additionally, Newman expresses concern about financial challenges homeschooling families face. Many are one-earner households and he says parents may have challenges when applying for government assistance because they homeschool. It seems the problem stems from needing to prove to the government the status of school attendance or graduation.

State Regulations and Homeschool Surveys

Homeschool attorney responds to Harvard professor’s claims that homeschooling is dangerous: The Christian Post interviewed T.J. Schmidt, attorney for the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). He addressed Bartholet’s claims related to state regulations. Schmidt explains that “No research has shown that increased regulation of home education has a significant effect on standardized test scores.”

Additionally, the homeschooling article discusses results of two surveys. One survey shows more parents are now considering homeschooling their children. The second survey shows one in five teachers polled do not plan to return to their classrooms this fall.

Public School Wait-listed

Some Cane Bay parents considering homeschooling after lottery leaves 51 wait-listed: Parents in a school district in South Carolina were not able to enroll their children in the neighborhood kindergarten for this fall. Due to the district’s policy to deal with over-crowding, the district held a lottery drawing which left 51 students on a wait-list. Some parents will be deciding between homeschooling, private school, or having children in different elementary schools from their siblings and neighbors.

(Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels)

Homeschooling, Covid-19, and Your Family

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Some people believe homeschooling is a parental effort to remove children from the public eye and prevent them from choosing their own values during early-adulthood. Even a Harvard professor, Elizabeth Bartholet, holds such a view. In her article, Bartholet claims homeschool parents use conservative Christian beliefs as a reason to remove their children from mainstream culture. She accuses such parents of questioning science, promoting female obedience and white supremacy. Readers world-wide criticized this article for being more opinion-based than a substantiated claim. Some researchers need to examine homeschooling more.

Reasons for Homeschooling

In direct response to this article, David Sikkink, a professor at the University of Notre Dame, took a more factual assessment of homeschooling. Sikkink “analyzed surveys of homeschooling families— including a 2016 government survey — and found that these families are not overwhelmingly Christian nor religious, and are not as universally closed-off to the outside world…The number one reason homeschooling parents cited was a concern about school environment, such as safety, drugs, or negative peer pressure.” These concerns about school environment are valid and up to the families to decide for themselves.

Just 16% of those families studied said their decision to homeschool was religion-based. This is a clear indication homeschooling is more than just one aspect of someone’s life and their personal beliefs. There’s more to the decision to homeschool than purely one’s faith.

Covid-19 forced many families into a temporary school-at-home situation; some parents may prefer to embrace homeschooling with a more long-term approach. Many more parents are starting to question why their children go to public school.

Resources for Homeschooling

So what resources are there to help with homeschooling? There are many online learning platforms, but these usually fill the school closure void as a virtual copy of classroom curriculum. What about real-world experiences? Real, human, messy experiences where learning is ingrained into your memory instead of as answers to a test quickly forgotten. What about community? Co-learning with friends where the lesson at the end of the day is how to be a good person to your neighbor, not merely achieving benchmarks on your way to standardized testing.

Kids can learn this way, whether they are going the short-term route of schooling-at-home or committing to the homeschool option for the long term. For either choice, parents need resources for their children’s education. Homeschool Cache aims to help meet that need by including parents as much as it does their kids. Learning is a familial endeavor in our opinion. We each learn from the other and the rest of our community.

Community and Marketplace

Homeschool Cache combines these ideas to present a marketplace and community that allow parents to share their educational means with other parents. In-home, tactile lessons and learning devices need to be available for families to experience learning as it should be. Connecting with others needs to be at the forefront of learning. The sudden turn towards homeschooling has made that combination of learning plus socialization a hurdle for the time being. A homeschooling community through Homeschool Cache can help provide that space.

(Photo by Julia M Cameron from Pexels)

Why I Now Support Homeschool

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I now support homeschool more than I did when my kids were in school. When you grow up going to public schools, who even thinks of alternatives, or at least that seemed how it was when I was in school in the 1970s and early 1980s. I came from what I consider a traditional background. My father worked, then my mother went back to work when my younger sister started school.promotion

I think I started really noticing homeschool as a choice when my kids were young. My husband and I were both in the military and moved about every three years. Naturally, we sometimes heard about families who homeschooled their kids, but did not know many. While we were in the military, our two daughters attended both private and public schools, having positive experiences in all three locations, and we retired before they started high school.

My Sister Homeschooled Her Daughters

Then in the early 2000s, my sister – also in the military – started homeschooling her oldest daughter in kindergarten because she was not satisfied with the public school where she lived. Our parents moved in to help some. My sister soon retired from the military also and continued homeschooling her oldest through high school graduation. She also homeschooled her second daughter through middle school, until she chose to go to a traditional high school. Now, her oldest daughter has graduated veterinarian school — a demonstration that homeschooling did not disadvantage her.

Having my sister homeschool my nieces is not what changed my support of homeschool. I have never been against it. My husband and I both felt it was important for our daughters to experience the social aspects of school. I no longer feel that way. What changed my mind? Well, it was gradual, but two things that changed my mind were reading a certain book and becoming a teacher.

Changing My Mind About Homeschool

The book I read that caused me to truly start thinking differently about the social aspects of school was written by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, “The Lies Women Believe”. “Children need to get exposed to the ‘real world’ so that they can learn to function in it” was Lie #28. (In her updated version, DeMoss no longer includes that lie.) Nancy compares children to plants in a green house. Plants need to develop roots and get a good start before they are set out in the weather. I started to understand the importance of children being in a place where they can thrive and not just survive.

Secondly, I became a middle school teacher after retiring from the military. Then I taught middle school for eight years and felt that either I changed or the students changed. It could have been both. I started out teaching core subjects (English and History). In my last two years of teaching, I taught my favorite subject:  technology. Elective courses can be more challenging, I soon discovered.

School Climate

So last year I left the classroom because I felt that other people would be better than me at handling behavior issues. I felt I was needing to teach more about behavior than when I first started teaching in 2007. At first, there was no “Put your phone away.” or “Get off of YouTube.” One administrator observed that the students’ parents would be appalled if they saw how their children acted. Yes, they would, or they would be appalled at what their children were often surrounded by.

Why this is happening has been and will be the topic of much research and discussion. The school climate is not what it used to be, as Walter E. Williams recently wrote about in his nationally syndicated column. We would like for our children to be positive influences in their schools, but not all children will thrive in public schools. Adversity does often make us stronger, but too much adversity too soon can be a problem. I now agree that homeschool may be a good option for some students at any time during their education journey.

As I write this blog, the nation is almost two months into social distancing and cancelled schools due to the novel coronavirus of 2020. I see indications that homeschooling and conventional schooling will never be the same. I think homeschooling will grow even more now as families evaluate circumstances. Homeschool is the norm right now, so more people should dramatically increase their support for it as a choice.