November 3, 2023

Hooray for the Homeschooling Boom

More parents than ever are teaching their kids at home — and not just in deep-red small-town America.

There was a time in America when the idea of parents teaching their kids at home was frowned upon. Neighbors would whisper to one another: “The Nelsons don’t send their kids to school. Such oddballs.”

But government schools were still teaching the three R’s back then. Students stood for the Pledge of Allegiance, they learned about George Washington and Thomas Edison, and they could even sing Christmas carols at school holiday concerts. These days, though, students graduate from high school unable to do basic math, incapable of writing in complete sentences, and ignorant of American history. Even worse, they’ve been conditioned to attack our cultural and political institutions and perhaps groomed for sexual deviancy.

Against this grim backdrop, the COVID lockdowns made matters even worse. But in one respect, they were a blessing in disguise: They caused many parents to realize they could do a better job of teaching their kids at home.

“Teachers union bosses who kept demanding more funding and new safety measures before ending the Covid lockdowns were surely hoping that parents would forget about all the learning losses and the tragic consequences of childhood isolation,” writes James Freeman of The Wall Street Journal.

They didn’t forget. Now there’s a homeschool boom occurring across the country, and it’s no longer limited to conservatives in small towns and suburbs. As Freeman adds: “Home schooling’s surging popularity crosses every measurable line of politics, geography and demographics. The number of home-schooled kids has increased 373 percent over the past six years in the small city of Anderson, S.C.; it also increased 358 percent in a school district in the Bronx.”

Parents learned quickly they could do more than just fill in the gaps until regular schooling returned, and they came to realize that they were giving their kids a better education. As The Washington Post reports, “Home schooling has become — by a wide margin — America’s fastest-growing form of education, as families from Upper Manhattan to Eastern Kentucky embrace a largely unregulated practice once confined to the ideological fringe.”

A study by the Post “reveals that a dramatic rise in home schooling at the onset of the pandemic has largely sustained itself through the 2022-23 academic year, defying predictions that most families would return to schools that have dispensed with mask mandates and other covid-19 restrictions.” Looking at the numbers, homeschooling increased 103% in New York, 91% in Rhode Island, 108% in Washington, DC, 55% in Massachusetts, and 78% in California. These aren’t flyover states; they’re deep-blue states.

Predictably, though, the Post is concerned: “Many of America’s new home-schooled children have entered a world where no government official will ever check on what, or how well, they are being taught.” Indeed, how could parents possibly educate their kids as well as the Big Education/Big Government Complex does?

Fifty years ago, that may have been at least an understandable concern, but when government officials are secretly encouraging gender transition, pushing social justice and race theories, and failing to teach kids to read and write after 12 years of schooling, many parents have decided that education without government oversight is actually better for their children.

Another noteworthy part of the homeschooling trend is that parents of children in good schools are just as likely to teach their kids at home as parents whose kids attend underperforming schools. “High performing districts will tend to be so at least partly because the parents are very demanding,” writes David Strom at Hot Air. “Low performing school districts will likely have a less demanding clientele on average. The parents in better school districts were therefore more likely to abandon the public schools during COVID because they knew their kids were falling behind.”

What really matters is that parents want a quality education for their kids — something they’re not getting in many public schools.

The notions that parents aren’t equipped to replace teachers and that homeschooling deprives young people of certain social benefits no longer hold weight. There are homeschooling networks around the country that offer curricular support as well as opportunities for involvement in clubs, athletics, and social events.

Homeschooling might not be for everyone, but it’s becoming a viable option for many. Parents have had enough of the political class and the all-powerful teachers unions.

And those oddball parents down the block? Perhaps they were onto something long ago. Perhaps they’re giving their kids the education they deserved — and perhaps millions more are about to join them.

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