Covid-19 Pandemic Pushes More Parents to Go All-In for Home Schooling

As parents grow increasingly frustrated with remote learning during the pandemic, some are deciding to pull their children out of school and try teaching on their own.

In North Carolina, the state’s home-school monitoring website crashed on the first day of enrollment, and more than 18,800 families filed to operate a home-school from July 1 to Jan. 22—more than double the school-year before, according to the state Division of Non-Public Education. In Connecticut, the number of students who left public schools to be home-schooled jumped fivefold this school year, to 3,500. In Nebraska, the number of home-schooled students jumped 56%, to 13,426, according to state education officials.

“The vast majority [of parents] are saying, ‘We’ve been really trying to do what the schools are asking us to do, but we just can’t do this anymore,’ ” said J. Allen Weston, executive director of the National Home School Association, which has been fielding inquiries on the topic.

Home schooling in the U.S. has accounted for a small portion of all schooling since the 1970s, but it has been growing from a traditional base of education reformers and religious conservatives to families worried about issues such as bullying and violence. Home schooling represented 3% of students nationally in 2016, the latest figures available, compared with 88% for public and charter schools and 9% for private schools, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

But as the coronavirus pandemic upends the school year, data from several states shows, more parents decided for practical reasons to take control of their children’s curriculum and schedule.

Sandra Cox said her family stuck with virtual learning for last spring and this past fall because they love their neighborhood schools in Garner, N.C., a Raleigh suburb.

“They were having to build the ship as we go,” she said, of the sudden shift to remote learning last spring. “But after they built the ship? It still wasn’t floating.”

Over Christmas break, Ms. Cox said she and her husband decided to rejigger their work schedules, pick a curriculum and start home schooling their 12-year-old daughter, Sierra, and 7-year-old son, Dwight Jr., who had been increasingly frustrated and bored.

Ms. Cox, who teaches evening sewing lessons at her store, The Sewing Room of Garner, said she spent a recent morning helping her daughter memorize multiplication tables, a skill prized in Ms. Cox’s youth but less emphasized in public schools now. For her son, she has enlisted her sister-in-law in Florida to give Japanese-language lessons via Zoom.

“It’s going great so far,” she said, then laughed. “Ask me again in three months.”

Public-school advocates say they worry home schooling is isolating for children and lacks safeguards to ensure a basic education. Elizabeth Bartholet, a Harvard Law School professor specializing in civil rights, called for “a presumptive ban” on home schooling in virtually all circumstances last year in the Arizona Law Review. She said home schooling jeopardizes children’s rights to “learn things that are essential for employment and for exercising meaningful choices in their future lives.”

Vanderbilt University’s Joseph Murphy, who studies home schooling, said there is scant evidence of abuse or widespread negative outcomes… Via – The Wall Street Journal

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