National School Choice Week

Parents Who Opt Out of Public Schools Don't Deserve Smears From Teachers Unions

Union leaders shame parents, arguing that equity gaps will widen if parents pull their children out of public schools.


Marta Mac Ban is not a revolutionary. Ashley Ekpo is not disgruntled. And Brooke Hunt does not consider herself better than others. All three women just want the best education possible for their children.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, that has meant taking matters into their own hands. Rather than settling for public school solutions that put students in front of laptops all day, the parents have pulled their kids out of the system and tried alternatives.

The empowerment scares teachers unions, which have a long history of attacking choice. Normally when parents try homeschooling or other options, union allies brand them as weird or extreme. The newest smear is even uglier.

Parents who bring their children together in small learning groups during the pandemic not only get labeled as eccentric, but also as segregationists guilty of promoting racial division in a nation with an ugly history of "separate but equal."

The National Education Association lays out the talking point in a recent policy paper, and industry insiders have repeated the claim on dozens of platforms. Using loaded terms like "radical" and "unqualified," they have sounded the alarm about a massive parental revolt.

Popular targets include families that have organized themselves into pandemic pods and microschools—two variations of homeschool co-ops that allow in-person instruction to continue in residential settings while brick-and-mortar classrooms remain closed or restricted.

Union leaders blast the innovation not because it fails, but because it works. They argue that the proliferation of home study groups will widen opportunity gaps and worsen school segregation because well-resourced families will benefit disproportionately. New York University sociologist R. L'Heureux Lewis-McCoy says pod parents engage in "opportunity hoarding."

Gregory Hutchings, superintendent of Alexandria City Public Schools in Virginia, warned about the opportunity gaps during a summer meeting with parents. Yet his concern that nobody get ahead during the pandemic applied only to others. Shortly after his lecture, he pulled one of his own children out of the district and enrolled her in a private Catholic school.

The pressure campaign is powerful, but many parents are no longer listening. Rather than worrying about the name-calling, they are reclaiming control.

'Room Mom' Opts Out

Marta Mac Ban, an Arizona parent who started homeschooling her 6-year-old daughter during the pandemic, says the jolt from COVID-19 is exactly what the school system needed. "The shakeup has reminded district leaders who their customers really are," she says. "If you don't give your customers what they want, they go elsewhere."

She and her husband did that in 2019 when they moved to Cave Creek, a small community north of Phoenix. They liked the local district, so they relocated as a form of school choice. Then they enrolled their daughter in kindergarten and got involved. Mac Ban volunteered as "room mom," creating classroom decorations and participating in parties. She also stayed active in the parent-teacher organization, compiling and sending monthly newsletters.

Everything went well until March, when classes switched to Zoom. Mac Ban, who tries to limit her daughter's screen time, quickly opted out. "She's not going to sit still for hours at a time staring at a computer," Mac Ban says.

She and her husband previously had considered homeschooling but were unsure if they had sufficient resources to pull it off. "We were already on the fence," Mac Ban says. "COVID was the push." Now she teaches at home, while teaming up with neighbors one day per week in a learning pod.

Despite the switch, Mac Ban does not oppose public schools. She sees many good things in her local district and continues to serve in the parent-teacher organization. What she supports is more choice. "One size does not fit all," she says. "It's ironic that they say, 'No child left behind' because so many kids are left behind when everyone is forced to go just to the one school."

Surprised by Success

Prior to the pandemic, Ashley Ekpo and her husband also relocated to find better schools. They switched from Prince George's County to neighboring Howard County in Maryland. The move extended the work commute for both parents, but they accepted the extra drive time as a sacrifice for their children.

Things went well until the pandemic. The parents initially jumped on board with distance learning through their public school, but soon found themselves overwhelmed with three school-aged children and two younger ones at home. "They were all lined up at the dining room table, and it was basically a nightmare," Ekpo says.

After a few weeks, she noticed a drop in educational quality, so she started researching options. When she and her husband decided to try homeschooling, they initially saw it as a temporary solution until they felt comfortable sending their children back to the classroom. Now, the parents aren't sure what they will do in 2021 and beyond. "We're staying open-minded because we're having a really good experience with it," Ekpo says.

A Place for Everyone

Brooke Hunt and her husband like choice so much that they let their older children decide for themselves what they wanted to do during the pandemic. All three opted to remain in public schools, while two younger ones started homeschooling in Mesa, Arizona. "We just made the big, brave decision in August," says Hunt, who has a degree in early childhood education.

Critics complain that homeschooling can cut children off from diverse classrooms, but Hunt sees the opposite in the co-op that she runs with two other families. Unlike public schools, which segregate students by age, the homeschooling group brings children together at different stages of development. This represents a type of diversity.

Participants in Hunt's group also come from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. "Lack of diversity is never an issue," she explains. Her only regret is that she cannot help more families in her little operation. "I wish I could open my home to everyone where there's a need," Hunt says.

Teachers unions could benefit from the same inclusive mindset. Parents like Mac Ban, Ekpo, and Hunt are not segregationists. They are innovators who should be celebrated, not smeared.

NEXT: How the CDC Bungled Testing of Early COVID-19 Quarantine Patients

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  4. If I read to my kids it's going to contribute to equity gaps, so yeah, this is dumb.

    1. It is quite an amazing thing to say. Parent's primary interest is in getting their child a good education, not in getting an equitable education (which could mean equally poor). It also quite telling that the union does not see a family as a customer who does and should have choices. They see them as a source of money for the system who are properly locked in.

      1. Which is why parenting needs to be destroyed.

        For the good of the state, all within the state, nothing outside the state.

        But don't dare call it fascism.

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    2. Why aren't your kids as dumb as the dumbest person alive!!!!!
      We need them to attend the de-education camps... /s

      1. If only we could put weights on the children that are too strong. And put, like, a random buzzer in the ear of the kids that are too smart.

        1. They did that at my government school. It was an oscillating fan and not a buzzer though.

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        2. Kurt Vonnegut did a short story called "Harrison Bergeron" about forcing equality on the populus. Excellent 5 minute read.

          1. There was a decent televised version of that story called "2081" that I liked. Unfortunately the only copies available on YouTube now are poor quality.

          2. Coincidentally, that was the assigned reading for my homeschooled 10 year old today.

    3. That's exactly why you need to stop reading to your kids. Haven't you heard?

    4. As a parent, I'm hoping for the biggest gap possible between my kids and the kids of parents who just put their kids on the bus.

    5. The purpose of the government school is not to educate anymore. It is to homogenize. That way everything is equal.

      1. Just give all the poor kids straight As and a Harvard diploma. Fs for everyone else.

        1. "Poor kids are just as bright as white kids." -Reason's preferred presidential candidate, Joe Biden.

  5. Everybody "deserve" smears if they dare allow wrongthink to fester in their heads!

    It's gonna be a long four years.

    1. It will be less. Midterm elections are famous for going against the President's party, and the backlash from the lockdowns, rising energy prices, rising taxes, and increasing political correctness will make it more so in 2022. Biden / Harris look set to lose both the House and Senate to the GOP. Of course, the wild cards of a doubly-impeached Trump and a possibly deposed Biden will upset any number of apple carts.

      1. Just look what Biden did his first week in office -- practically guaranteeing high Republican turnout. Executive orders to let in terrorists, grant citizenship to illegal aliens, and let males compete in women's sports. Who was asking for all of that? Certainly not a majority of voters.

      2. It won't be easy winning back the Senate. There are 14 Dem seats up, with only the Georgia seat looking like a GOP wave could reasonably win there. There are 20 GOP seats up with PA's in danger due to the work burbs.

    2. It’s gonna be a long four infinite number of years.

      FTFY. This shit will never end. There will always be control freak authoritarians who will seek to shut down "wrongthink" and control others. And those assholes are always the ones who are attracted to government power and always will be.

      1. There will always be control freak authoritarians who will seek to shut down “wrongthink” and control others.

        ^ this

        The schools have long been the incubator for this movement. COVID has now proven they can do whatever they want as long as they combine Science! and Emergency! and shout down any questions with accusations. They are not satisfied, they are emboldened.

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  9. Put your concern for others ahead of your concern for your own kids.
    Like that is gonna happen.

    1. "We haven't had a very collective notion of these are our children. So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities." - Melissa Harris-Perry, professional asshat

      1. That's Melitha Harrith-Pewey bigot.

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    3. Well, if you can't put other people's kids' best interest ahead of your own child ... you must be a horrible individual! I'm fairly sure 'equity' here is being used in reference to those who were practically having a pajama parade when they got to throw their kids on the bus. Or the ones who won't sit down with their kids to help them with homework.
      You hit exactly on the head with your comment. Sometimes I just want to ask some of these morons if they smoke crack for breakfast. 1) MY child is NOT their cause or even any of their business for that matter. 2) they just realize that they will be out of a job if parents talk to parents and start a "thing" with being racist segregationists by helping others understand that, just like before some gooberhead decided to butt into family business and make 'public schools' we teach our kids better. Teachers are the ones who are unqualified to instruct children. (There is a RARE exception to thst rule). They get all pissy because they went to school for it and yet.... they still suck. Lately, just the cases of child rape by teachers are enough to make me tell all of them to kiss my behind and go to the devil. My family, like most sensible people will say, is going to come before anybody else at anytime. I don't care what they call me. I would suggest to the people writing the reports slinging mud at homeschooling parents that they watch their mouths because they just might piss off the wrong person.

      1. " Or the ones who won’t sit down with their kids to help them with homework."
        Funny that you brought this up. Why are schools and the Teacher's Unions making it so hard to help your kids with their homework? Why are they making it so difficult to get involved with your child's school?

        I dated a woman who was a teacher. Her goal was to rise through the Union ranks. One evening, after a few glasses of wine, she said something that made think. She said that the Union didn't want parents to get involved. If enough parents got involved it might hamper the Union's goals and objectives. She said that one of the features of Common Core is that it changed what was being taught enough that parent's wouldn't know how to help their child. The benefit of that was that it would lower test scores and create a problem. The Union would push for more funding while at the same time placing the blame on the parents.

        We broke up a bit after that. About a year later, I'm helping my Nephew with his Trigonometry homework and that created a problem. His teacher didn't like the way that I showed him to solve the problems. She stated if I didn't STOP helping him she would fail him. A few years earlier I had aced College Trig when I got my Engineering degree. I asked her to show me how SHE wanted it done and she refused. I asked the school to let me sit in on a few classes to see how they were doing it, and was told no.

        A while ago some students from local colleges started a basketball league for third and fourth grade girls. My Great Niece wanted to play and signed up. I went to watch them practice. I had played high school basketball and had coached at the fifth and sixth grade level. They were glad to have my help, after I passed a background check that cost $280. I asked what was up about that and was told that the Union requested it in their last contract. Anybody who volunteers to help in any fashion has to have the background check.
        There appears to be a coordinated effort to keep parents FROM getting involved.
        Anybody who thinks that I'm a conspiracy theory nut, just remember what happened last fall when parents were told that they were not allowed to sit in on their child's remote learning sessions.

  10. Union leaders shame parents, arguing that equity gaps will widen if parents pull their children out of public schools.

    Better that all students be forced into the same shitty public school system than some escape and actually learn something. Wouldn't want some to get ahead. Fuck public schools and fuck teacher's unions.

    1. Wear a condom, or you will surely catch something really nasty.
      The schools and unions have been fucking everybody for years.

  11. That last paragraph, wow. Teachers unions do not benifite when people realize how evil and corrupt they are. That's why they are fighting tooth and nail to end pods, school choice, home schooling, etc.

  12. It's just a fact of life that if a kid has parents who are dedicated to educating their children, that kid will probably have an advantage in life. This is even true in a public school setting.

  13. Union leaders blast the innovation not because it fails, but because it works. They argue that the proliferation of home study groups will widen opportunity gaps and worsen school segregation because well-resourced families will benefit disproportionately.

    The solution to this is quite simple--re-open the schools, and fire the teachers who don't want to come back to work.

    1. Give them 48 hours like Reagan did for PATCO.

    2. Solution to what? Leave the schools closed. Forever. It's the only way to be sure.

      1. That only works if you stop paying them

        1. I disagree. If the choices are to keep the schools closed forever and continue paying the teachers or to restart the government schooling operation, the choice is obvious.

          1. Teachers and union reps into woodchippers?

          2. why are there only two choices there? I'm huge fan of choice #3 ...
            which is 'I don't know about everybody else, but no my child does NOT belong to any community. I didn't sign a damn contract like having him was a business investment. I've NEVER seen you sit with me all night when he was suck or in the hospital or heard you offer to contribute financially to his care. You didn't almost die giving birth or freak out when he broke his arm. My child is MINE and he and I like it that way. So, I'd suggest that if you want to keep your face exactly as is, then you quit sticking your overly educated & still dumb ass out of my FAMILY DECISIONS.'
            Besides, I would think they (the school snobs) as educated as they supposedly are, would realize that before they start sweeping around my door, they should sweep around their own. Clean up your getting process and stop putting child molesters in positions of authority over kids.

  14. On the plus side if the enormous number of spambots posting here are to be believed there will be plenty of opportunities for making money at home, and apparently you don't even need to be able to understand English or proper grammar in order to do it.

  15. If Reason editors (and financier Charles Koch) actually believe the headline of this article, they wouldn't have spent four years trashing Trump (who aggressively campaigned for school choice), nor would they have spent the past year campaigning for Joe Biden and Doctor Jill (EdD), who have opposed school choice (except for their own children).

    1. It's not quite that simple-minded. They had many articles about Betsy DeVos, some interviews with her, and generally applauded it all.

      But their continual hatred of Trump's ugly facade (thank you JesseAZ!) while while admitting Biden's foundation was far far worse was the epitome of TDS. I wish Reason was so influential that Biden's squeaker of an election victory could be blamed on Reason, but they are just noise in the signal; the mainstream media is the culprit.

  16. "Union leaders blast the innovation not because it fails, but because it works."

    Good catch. But soon they'll be back to their talking point that there's no evidence that other forms of education are more effective.

  17. OT - No more Mr. Nice Guy, no more No Enemies to the Left -

    "We have just confirmed that Facebook has disabled the page of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality at the University of Michigan, as well as the accounts of all admins."

    1. Wait - it doesn't look banned to me...

      1. General hint; twitter is not a reliable source.

          1. No.
            Socialists lie; it's what they do.

  18. "Union leaders shame parents, arguing that equity gaps will widen if parents pull their children out of public schools."

    Which says more than they'd hoped regarding the teachers and government schools.

  19. Parents Who Opt Out of Public Schools Don't Deserve Smears From Teachers Unions

    "Deserve"'s got nothing to do with it. As long as the smears work, who gives a shit if there's any truth to them? As long as you're defending yourself from these smears rather than attacking those doing the smearing, the tactic has worked. Ignore the smears, start doing some smearing of your own, fight fire with fire.

    For example, it's well known that the reason teachers want all your children in one place under their authority is because all teachers are pedophiles and this gives them the best opportunity to molest your children. And I've got plenty of anecdotal evidence that teachers have molested children, how can you refute actual evidence in the form of news reports of teachers actually being arrested, charged and convicted for molesting children?

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  20. It's the "soft bigotry of low expectations". All too often teachers do not want high flying students to get ahead or be extra challenged because they fear the gaps will increase. The assumption being that only the white kids will get ahead. They do not subscribe to the belief that if you raise the bar for the whole school the culture will change and everyone will up their game just a little more due to peer effects.

    I have one kid in high school and he is fine because he is in AP and honors classes. He actually gets homework and is learning stuff. My middle-schooler has very little work to do. It's pathetic. I believe that the teachers fear that if they give too much work it will stress the kids out or that some will do it and some will not and the gaps will increase. Instead, we have everyone doing very little.

    1. If they're anything like some of my high school teachers, there's also the fear that the kid is smarter than you are. A really smart high schooler is smarter than your average high school teacher (that's why those kids go on to be something better than a high school teacher) and a lot of teachers don't want to get embarrassed by being outsmarted by a 16 year old in front of the whole class. Far easier to just never give them an opportunity to look smart.

      I had middle school English teachers accuse me of cheating because I had read all of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series by 8th grade. I took some tests on them to earn book fair points and they tried to withhold my points because they claimed no 7th grader could've understood those books. That only proved to me that they had never read the books themselves, and was an early lesson that authority figures will try to fuck you over for very stupid reasons.

      1. That's fucking absurd. I read those books in the sixth grade. Of course, I also read them *in class*, so it would have been hard to claim I hadn't read them. 😀

  21. "The shakeup has reminded district leaders who their customers really are," she says. "If you don't give your customers what they want, they go elsewhere."

    Jokes on you. They already have your money.

    1. This. :-\

  22. Union leaders shame parents, arguing that equity gaps will widen if parents pull their children out of public schools.

    They say this, but they know their fellow travelers (i.e., progressives) only worry about equity gaps when it's not their kids. And the rest of us don't give a damn about equity gaps.

  23. Why would the parents care what teachers' unions think? That's like worrying about a car dealer you decided not buy a car from thinks, totally irrelevant.

    1. Difference is, the school already has your money and will keep taking it from you (more than half my property tax goes to the school district). Car deal is responsive to your needs precisely because they need to earn>/i> your money.

  24. It doesn't surprise me leftists argue it's unfair kids leaving public schools will receive a better education than our schools offer. What astonishes me is that more parents - and other normal Americans - don't demand a complete restructuring of schools in response to their admission their policy is to resolve the "education gap" by lowering education quality for the better students. These people shouldn't be anywhere near students or schools.

    1. It's only a few cases where this "gap" matters though.

      No one complains when LeBron goes to basketball prep school, receiving all kinds of opportunities and exposure to professional basketball that the kid at the public high school never receives. No one cares that this deprives the public school kids of the opportunity to play alongside LeBron, to compete against someone of that caliber.

      But take your smart kid and send him to a private school so he can take advantage of his natural gifts? That's racist.

  25. Our schools teach White students that they are immoral and contemptible if they don’t support the White Genocide that’s being carried out by massive third-world immigration and FORCED assimilation i.e diversity in EVERY White country and ONLY White countries.
    Their teachers never tell them, “White self-hatred is SICK!!!“
    Those teachers claim to be anti-racist. What they are is anti-White.
    Anti-racist is a code word for anti-White.

  26. For some reason, when I was a kid, all my teachers (union members all) who had school-age children sent their kids to private school. Has that changed much since then?

    Meanwhile, are union-appeasing politicians included in union criticisms of parents who choose private schools? Just wondering.

  27. The "gap" that so many worry about is an achievement gap. It arises from at least two factors: a better education, and a more pronounced ambition. Both can be taught, but no longer are likely in public schools.

    1. and more involved parents, who tend to be the ones pursuing better options for their kids

    2. This is the parent's job...not the school's job.

      Learning begins and ends at home.

      Good parents know this. Shitty ones dump their children off at school and expect miracles to happen (they never do).

  28. The problem with the teachers is that its always "the children" when in reality its "always the money" I could respect them if they were truthful and not bs about the kids all the time. I mean even when they complain about money, you always hear that its for the benefit of the kids. As for diversity, that seems to be the goal. Not education, not how to to get into college, but how to be diverse. In the name of diversity, people with the ability to provide a better education to their children are supposed to accept a mediocrity education so that the public school can provide a mediocrity education to the poor. This idea that its necessary for our children to have to be in a diverse school is ludicrous to me. My kids went to a Jewish Day school. Was it 100% white, no it was 98% and and all Jewish. Did i care that my kids didnt hang out with a diverse group at school, not really. Did they lose out by not having a diverse school, no I dont think so. My kids played sports and many other activities where they were diverse group so its not like they were insular from the rest of the world. However, in the order of what i want from school, #1 is a great education, #2 is a path to college, #3 is for my children to learn to socialize with other people, #4 is to have a good time. The last thing i care is that the school be diverse, because honestly, if that is your primary consideration, i feel sorry for the education you will receive. The Teachers Union and the left wing activist have able to keep the middle class kids in public school because of the way they have been able to fight against the Charter Schools as well as School Choice. It also doesnt help that Private schools are so expensive. Now the parents have found another way, and the only way to stop this is to smear the parents by basically calling them the equivalent of racist. In no arena outside maybe the DMV has such a poor product (public education) been foisted on the public and it considered inpolite to complain about it. While you would assume that the parents and the students would be the customer of public education, the truth is, the true customers of public education are the teachers and the administrators. And as far as they know, it has been working fantastic for the last 50 years. My final point, if i ran my business like pubilc education runs it business, i would have been out of busines a long time ago. But that is government work for you, its good enough

  29. These SOCIALIST INDOCTRINATORS are just bitter because these kids' parents are enabling their children to circumvent their systemic Marxist brainwashing.

  30. Our schools haven't been worth a crap ever since the idea of "social promotion" was allowed in. That's passing kids even though they failed and desperately need to be held back a grade level. When public prayer was taken out of school was another low point. Now days, kids can't even have their Bible out during unstructured time.
    We need schools that are like our colonial schools when Bible and Christian morality were taught hand in hand with academics; where the stories for reading were lessons on morality.

    1. yeah, but whose prayer are kids going to be forced to recite? there's a reason that was phased out.

  31. Both of my parents were teachers and were aghast when I put my daughter in Catholic school rather than the failing public school two blocks away. They said the local school would never improve if involved parents like us simply left. My counter was that my child only had one shot at education and I was not going to sacrifice her in the name of trying to improve a dysfunctional school over which I had no impact. My daughter is now happily married, a college graduate and working in medical research. People need to do what is best for their children; not some bureaucrats’ jobs. If more people did that, the public schools would be forced to get their acts together. The first thing we should do is decertify all the unions. They only care about more money and jobs for their members. “It’s for the children,” is just their business slogan - no different than “Built Ford Tough” or “Finger Lickin’ Good.”

    1. Jeff...but what about "It takes a village"? (snark)

      Good for you Jeff...well done!

  32. A few years ago Howard County, Md. which is rated a very good school district in the state had a report come out that 1/3 of the teachers had their children in private schools.

    Another do as I say not as I do moment.

  33. This year my children's school taught them about BLM. My son (13) came home and said "Papa...why is using the word 'black' considered bad? It is used in the 'BLM' name after all." I said "It isn't, neither is the term 'white' are fine.".

    About 55% of his classmates are Hispanic, and speak Spanish in class. They use Spanish when they don't want others to understand them, like teachers and the other non-Hispanic students. My kids understand enough to know what they are saying, and know they are being sometimes mean, demeaning, to students and teachers. I pointed this out to the Teacher, and suggested they ban Spanish in class as it is causing such disruption. I knew her answer already...and she was not going to stop an Hispanic Student from using Spanish in class...even though it is clearly disruptive. I suggested they were "weaponizing*" their language (I was using her language now). No response.

    We are homeschooling this semester, and hopefully for the next 4-6 years.

    Schools, teach my children the "Three Rs", and then shut the fuck up. This is your job, your basic task, and you are fucking that up as you fall all over yourselves to teach social/neo-marxist propaganda. Please stop with the social indoctrination.

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