School Choice

Forget Classroom Battles: Homeschooling Is Easier Than Ever

Families looking for alternatives to battlefields of the culture war have a bonanza of educational options.

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It's too early to know whether the pandemic-fueled surge in homeschooling will continue in the coming year, but the early indicators are that do-it-yourself education is here to stay as a popular choice for families from all sorts of backgrounds. Escalating public school battles over masks, in-person teaching, and curriculum content continue to push families to seek options that meet their needs without a fight. That choice is made easier by the proliferation of resources for learning, in many cases at little or no cost.

"With Texas public schools now restarting for the fall semester, interest in homeschooling is already outpacing the all-time records set by the enormous homeschool increase from 2020," the Texas Homeschool Coalition [THSC] announced last month. "Last week, THSC's weekly call and email volume reached 4699, nearly five times the weekly record set by 2020. Before being upset by 2021 numbers, the records set by 2020 had been all-time-highs."

The percentage of students homeschooled in Texas rose to 12.3 percent last year, up from 4.5 percent of students in Spring 2020, the organization pointed out. Nationally, 11.1 percent of students were homeschooled last year, up from 3.3 percent before the pandemic, according to the Census Bureau. (African-American families seem particularly done with schoolroom chaos; 16.1 percent of their kids joined the ranks of the homeschooled).

"It's clear that in an unprecedented environment, families are seeking solutions that will reliably meet their health and safety needs, their childcare needs and the learning and socio-emotional needs of their children," Census Bureau researchers Casey Eggleston and Jason Fields noted in March. "From the much-discussed 'pandemic pods,' (small groups of students gathering outside a formal school setting for in-person instruction) to a reported influx of parent inquiries about stand-alone virtual schools, private schools and homeschooling organizations, American parents are increasingly open to options beyond the neighborhood school."

As that observation suggests, necessity and health concerns have led parents to explore alternatives to default public schools and to innovate on their own. But the conflicts that have engulfed government-managed education give students and their parents even more reason to abandon endless arguments in favor of environments where learning takes place according to their values and preferences.

"As summer fades into fall, nearly all of the major issues dividing the country have dropped like an anvil on U.S. schools," The New York Times acknowledged in August. The story noted that "From mask mandates to critical race theory and gender identity, educators are besieged."

Those increasingly frequent battles are an exhausting waste of time and energy. Parents and kids can attend meetings and yell at school board members over COVID-19 protocols they consider ill-conceived, or they can choose a setting where children will flourish. Likewise, they can battle other families over the ideological filter through which America's history and society are interpreted, or they can select instruction along lines that they consider accurate and appropriate.

In fact, ease of delivery represented by the internet along with the surge in demand among homeschoolers has resulted in an embarrassment of riches for those looking for materials that represent their values. The New York Times's revisionist 1619 Project take on America's founding, painting the country as fatally flawed by racism, has been turned into a curriculum that fuels some of today's classroom conflict. But those seeking something different can adopt alternatives including Hillsdale College's brand-new 1776 Curriculum, which offers K-12 lessons that portray the country and its founding in a rather more positive light and are also free to download and use.

Fortunately, not everything is (yet) consumed by politics, though we're getting closer to that point every day. Non-ideological resources include Khan Academy's free and widely praised offerings in math and other fields, the American Chemical Society's free chemistry lessons and resources for elementary, middle, and high-schoolers, and the free texts, study guides, and analyses of the Bard's work offered at Shakespeare Online. Not everything is available without a charge, of course, but the range of offerings and sources means that there's something for pretty much everybody (I maintain an online list, far from complete, of homeschooling resources).

Learning opportunities can also come from unexpected quarters in a world of surging homeschooling, microschools, pandemic pods, and creative ad hoc arrangements. After we recently pulled our son out of his private school to return to DIY education (it's a great school, but a grueling commute) the family of one of his former classmates, who switched to homeschooling last year, reached out to propose sharing the cost of hiring a retired professor for a creative-writing course. We were about to look for something along those lines anyway, and this gave us an opportunity to help custom-design a class to our specifications.

Unsurprisingly, choosing what works for you instead of fighting with administrators, teachers, and other families tends to be reflected in higher rates of satisfaction. "Private School and Home School Parents are more strongly satisfied than District School Parents," the monthly survey performed by Morning Consult for EdChoice consistently finds. In the latest report, 60 percent of private school parents say they are "very satisfied" with their children's experience, compared to 54 percent of homeschoolers, 47 percent of charter school parents, and 37 percent of district school parents (all learning categories are in positive territory when you add those who are "somewhat satisfied," though district parents still lag).

That same report found that some homeschooling families planned to return to traditional classrooms this school year, but that was before arguments and even shoving matches became a recurring feature of school board meetings. It was also before teachers' unions returned to claiming absolute dominion over public schools and their policies and mocking parents who object.

"You can recall the Governor. You can recall the school board. But how are you going to recall me?" Cecily Myart-Cruz, the head of United Teachers Los Angeles, snickered in an interview with Los Angeles Magazine.

Ultimately, teachers' unions may find themselves presiding over hollow shells, especially if the impetus continues to grow for letting funding follow students instead of remaining linked to institutions. After all, what matters is that the kids learn, not that they learn in a government-owned building from a protected class of people. Families looking for alternatives to struggling public schools turned battlefields of culture war have more options than ever, and that includes homeschooling made increasingly easy.

NEXT: Self-Cancellation, Deplatforming, and Censorship

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  1. Interesting how home schooling transformed from a breeding ground for religious fundamentalism for ignorant rubes who believe in young earth creationism into a bastion of refuge for frustrated parents as soon as the darkies got on board.

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    3. No, they’re the blackface on the tanned white supremacy now.

      Honestly, it makes a lot of sense that minorities would flee gov’t institutions first. Lots of reasons to mistrust there.

    4. Are you a victim of public schooling?

      Regardless, if you were better educated, you might have been taught about the cum hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. Is this really the first time you’ve heard that correlation doesn’t equal causation? Properly educated people find it embarrassing when they make obviously irrational claims that they should have learned to avoid making in high school. Here, let me educate you:

      https://outofthefog.website/treatment-1/2015/12/7/the-cum-hoc-ergo-propter-hoc-fallacy

      Homeschooled kids tend to perform better than kids in public schools when it comes to standardized tests and college entrance exams. Critics of homeschooling point out that homeschooled kids tend to come from more affluent families with parents that care a great deal about their education, which may bias the numbers in favor of homeschooled kids.

      Defenders of homeschooling might point out that there’s no reason for them to explain why homeschooled kids perform worse than public school kids on standardized exams–since homeschooled kids, on average, don’t perform worse than public school kids. If we’re speculating about the possible motives of parents, it may be because they can get performance similar to private schools by homeschooling at a much lower cost.

      If we’re speculating about the reasons why teachers’ unions are hostile to homeschooling, I can think of a number of likely candidates. Maybe they’re afraid that homeschooling will eat into the demand for public school teachers. Fewer public school teachers means less revenue for unions in the form of dues.

      There’s also the problem that government bureaucrats have a disincentive in teaching people critical thinking skills in a democracy. Talk about the fox guarding the hen house! The more people start thinking for themselves, the less they’re likely to support the education bureaucracy making their choices on their behalf. They don’t want a society of critical thinkers. They want people to do and believe what they’re told.

      1. I may have left a close italics tag off.

        I’m just sayin’.

  2. To be fair, Reason has always been generally in favor of homeschooling, one of the few non-marxist stances they’ve kept to. The left is still very much opposed to parents keeping children out of government brainwashing facilities.

  3. I try to find the silver linings . . . for example, I am grateful my grandchildren will have the opportunity to compete economically with the children of slack-jawed families that choose backwater religious schools or homeschooling for their children.

    The world needs ditchdiggers, too . . .

    1. My Catholic high school had a cheer (which was officially frowned on as being in poor taste) when losing a sports event to a public school:

      “That’s alright, that’s OK, you’re gonna work for us someday!”

    2. Yeah, I’m glad your grandkids will be there to make sure my backwater religious school graduates always have fresh french fries.

      1. Except in Oregon, where a high school diploma is becoming a participation award. They might be capable of even manning the fries station.

    3. Unfortunately for you and your kind rev, the ongoing trend in society will continue.

      The private and home schooled “yokels” will continue to run companies, and those who spent years learning govt school CRT wokenomics will continue to drive ubers, flip burgers, and occupy the lower tiers of society.

      Sorry for the rude awakening.

    4. We see what public education did for you and smile all the way back home.

    5. Aren’t you late for your job at Starbucks? Those lattes won’t serve themselves. Granted, they’ll be special: created by the best damn Womyn’s Studies grad there is.

      1. It’s Womxn, you fucking terrible bigot

    6. Compete economically =/ “Thank you, drive through.”

    7. Your grandchildren will make good slaves for the descendants of your handlers.

    8. Artie of course came from some backwater town where he learned his bigotry first hand.

    9. Oregon used to require home school kids to take periodic assessment tests. My wife would make easy money administering these test on nights and weekends. She said that by late elementary/early middle school the kids broke down into 3 groups. Kids whose parents kept to the local school curriculum scored around grade level. Kids whose parents didn’t care scored well below grade level. Kids who had involved parents would score several years above grade level.
      Schools are moving away from challenging kids, because not all can compete. Parents who want the best for their kids will increasingly view home/private/charter schools as their only option.

    10. Are you aware that Thomas Alva Edison only spent 30 days in formal public school and that his public school teacher considered him “addle-headed?”

      Are you also aware that in addition to his many inventions and his marketing accumen, homeschooled Thomas Alva Edison was also famous for observing that: “All religion is bunk?”

      Are you aware that many winners of National Spelling Bees are also homeschooled?

      Are you aware that World Book and Encyclopedia Britannica sold to many more places than just schools, probably because parents wanted kids to learn things outside of formal classrooms?

      That’s OK, Rev. Artie. We’ll let you think you’re one of the “Betters.” Carry on, Better, and don’t forget to flourish your cape. You’ve got street cred to keep up with the Eugenics Society.

  4. The recommendation appears to be to concede the government run schools to the radical Left’s racialized pedagogy and retreat into homeschooling, because fighting Leftist indoctrination is an ugly matter that embarrasses our pundits.

    I do not have any issues with people homeschooling or otherwise taking their kids out of the public schools. However, the curriculum fight with the progressives is still one that must happen.

    1. Yep. I’m still paying for it.

      1. You are still being forced to pay for it.

    2. Until they refund all taxes spent on govt schooling, to be redistributed to whichever school method is chosen by the parents, the curriculum fight has to happen. So long as we are all forced to fund a system where govt wokesters are given our money and forcing their propaganda on a captive audience, we need to fight the brainwashing.

      If they want to give back all the taxes they take, and the public schools will get that money back based on the parents who choose to have their child brainwashed, then so be it. But they only get paid based on parents voluntarily choosing their system over others, no free ride.

      The teachers unions and NEA are acting like every corrupt union does. They have way too much power, they abuse it, and when you try to hold them accountable they say “fuck off” and try to steam roll over you. Its not about what the parents, families, students want/need, its about what is good for the teachers union and what they want.

    3. It’s not just a fight over curriculum. It’s a fight for control of the public schools. Currently, progs control the entire system, from classrooms to education departments, and they control the systems under which alternatives are allowed and regulated.

      The problem with retreating into homeschooling is the assumption that homeschooling will continue to be allowed as it is now. If homeschooling or alternative private school numbers continue to rise, the progs are going to realize that a large number of children are evading the net. They’ll clamp down and regulate school choice out of existence.

      The fight needs to continue, not just for curriculum, but also to weaken the progs’ control over education.

      1. Or replacing requirements of classical standardized testing as a means of measuring progress / mastery of material to requiring special instruction (by a govt approved instructor/class, of course) in the wokenomics of the day. You cant proceed to the next grade/level unless you have attended X number of hours in a govt approved CRT instructional class, under Sec of Education Ibram Kendi

        1. My kid goes to Catholic school. While it’s true that they have some freedom from state and local dictats, they are still beholden to the state for accreditation, etc.

          They’ve managed to avoid all the CRT bullshit so far, but I imagine it won’t be long before they have that foisted on them as a condition of accreditation.

      2. California once tried to screw over home schooling by requiring any one who teaches kids to have a degree in education. that law did did not pass yet

        1. I believe that actually did pass but every home schooler in california ends around the law by creating their own personal private school which is even less regulated than home school.

  5. Whatever happens, they’ll find new regulations for it. It’s fucking tragic public schools are such shit that people are abandoning the facilities they’re taxed for, and even more pathetic that educators have such narrow minds that it’s a fight at all.

  6. I think the learning pod trend is probably more indicative of the way things are likely to go in the future.

    The demographic trends of women working outside the home are likely to continue–as they have been cross culturally, everywhere in the world–and its driven by economics. When women have the opportunity to contribute to household income by working outside the home, they choose to have fewer children. And that holds true whether we’re talking about women in the Middle East, central Africa, Thailand, Mexico, Ireland, or the suburbs of Los Angeles, California. Women won’t give up working outside the home to have more children, and they probably won’t give up their careers to start homeschooling either.

    Pooling with several other families to hire someone to teach them in a learning pod–or to pay to have their children taught by the parent or parents of other families–allows parents to enjoy the benefits of homeschooling without it interfering with women’s ability to work outside the home. If you’re looking for the path of least resistance, that’s the way forward, with the most resistance probably coming from teachers’ unions looking to go after uncredentialled parents teaching other people’s kids.

    1. We did this during part of the pandemic and it was our backup plan if our school dipped into the Covid hysteria and CRT bullshit trend that the blue county schools are dabbling in (update: they are about to go back to virtual again).

      Worked out well, and we have a few families that are like minded (we want our kids school to be rigorous, and very STEM focused) that were very serious about finding some dedicated instructors for the long haul if things went crazy. Fortunately some schools are still not going insane, but I could definitely see this being a way forward.

      1. Worked out well, and we have a few families that are like minded (we want our kids school to be rigorous, and very STEM focused)”

        Out of curiosity, is your desire for your kids to be very STEM focused driven by concerns about their future earnings potential, or is it about avoiding the political indoctrination that seems to be inherent with a liberal arts education these days?

        1. 20 years ago, my college STEM curriculum included half a dozen progressive arts classes. Can’t imagine how bad it is now.

        2. Probably late for you to see, but more about future career and earning potential. While your second point I do agree with, its more that STEM actually makes the world go round (not gender studies) and it can be taught in a more objective, unemotional manner. I dont need my kids teacher to have strong emotional, activist opinions they are forcing the kids to repeat, I need them to learn algebra well, and early.

    2. That’ll be where they go first- homeschool pods, and they’ll do it exactly as you said: going after uncredentialled people teaching more than their own child. That will eliminate a whole lot of the increase in homeschool numbers. From there, it won’t be long before they’re able to essentially regulate homeschooling out of existence.

    3. the only reason many women work outside of the home is because they have to in order to survive the tax system. its the second method of destroying families, brought to you by the government

      1. That observation is cross cultural and throughout history.

        When you educate women and let them earn money outside the home, they will have one or two children plus a career instead of four to six—everywhere in the world at all times in history.

        It doesn’t even matter whether abortion is illegal or whether birth control is against their religious convictions.

    4. on thing to note, when women have the luxury of NOT working they choose to stay home with the kids more often than women who dont have that option

      1. Some of them stay home because there are no opportunities.

        Some of them stay home because they can.

        Some of them stay home but not because they want to stay home.

        Some of them want to stay home but can’t.

        In general, the more opportunities outside the home there are for them to contribute to household income, the fewer children they choose to bear.

        Most of the developed world is approaching population decline because of this “problem”.

        1. Wonder if Australia will have a birthrate surge due to the protracted lockdown.

          1. More like a divorce surge

  7. I fully support a free market in education. But, to draw from this that the pushback against progressive hegemony in public education is a “waste of time and energy” strikes me as peeing on our legs and telling us its raining. As others have noted, even if people opt out of progressive indoctrination centers, they’re still forced by law to subsidize their full cost. Moreover, public education is still, functionally the default scenario in education. I think it’s great that 11.1% of kids were homeschooled during the pandemic (a number that, as highly I think of homeschooling, is sure to recede from the pandemic spike as schools open back up). But, even that spike number means that 88.9% of kids are still educated in public schools (I know, I’m omitting private and parochial schools, but it doesn’t effect the overall point). Barring significant time and/or expense on the parents’ part, time and expense not all parents can afford, after paying taxes to subsidize the educational monopoly, the kids are going to be going to public school. The “oh, you can always homeschool” excuse for not pushing back against the progressive monopoly effectively means that subsidized progressive indoctrination remains unchallenged as the default. Given that the very progressives parents are pushing back against are also the biggest opponents of school choice, the proper incentive structure would best be established by purging progressivism from the country’s school curricula. Then, if progressives want their kids to receive progressive indoctrination, well, gosh, there’s always homeschooling.

    1. Fortunately, it’s not Either/Or but Both/And. Parents can both give their children the education they need and fight against Totalitarian indoctrination in the Gummint Skoolz at the same time.

      One, homeschooling takes away audience share for Totalitarian Progressive/Antifa/Wokeist/CRT ideologues and without an audience of impressionable youths, their ideas get nowhere.

      Two, even for children stuck in Gummint Skoolz, homeschooling curricula materials can help counteract the indoctrination. Homeschooling parents can offer to share links, references, and used texts or CD-ROMs their children have outgrown with parents of children still stuck in Gummint Skoolz.

      Homeschooling organizations could also offer resources to parents who, for financal or time constraints, can’t make the full leap to homeschooling.

      Either way, homeschooling can counter Totalitarian mind control, whether inside or outside of the existing system of Gummint Skoolz.

  8. End the Public Education Industrial Complex

  9. Ultimately, teachers’ unions may find themselves presiding over hollow shells

    As long as they’re still collecting dues, they’re ok with that.

  10. It’s about time public schools prove they can teach children.

  11. Get rid of public schools entirely. Problem solved.

  12. sweet! maybe we’ll get a generation of kids who can do something positive … close the conformity factories.

  13. “teachers’ unions may find themselves presiding over hollow shells”

    We’ve been there for a long time now, except those chickens are coming home to roost. A large number of people just elected a senile president and think it’s a good thing.

  14. “teachers’ unions may find themselves presiding over hollow shells”

    I’ve been predicting zombie schools for a while now. I think the end game will be an army of useless public school employees sitting in empty classes because the public union is so strong no one will fire them or close the schools even when no one attends.

  15. As someone else states — The best thing about Commie-Education.

    The ‘worse’ it preforms the MORE money you are *forced* to pay for it.
    The wonderful *power* of Gov-Gun-Forces.

  16. The problem is that homeschooling tends to create socially inept mama’s boys who are afraid of everything because they have never been exposed to things outside their family.

    1. I don’t know where you would get that. Homeschooling parents can and do also take children on field trips to museums, concerts, plays, movies, games, stores, workplaces, camping trips, music lessons, martial arts classes, and other organized social activities.

      And they can all do so without exposing children to poverty, squalor, filth, alcohol/drug abuse, crime, and other forms of the worst in human beings. You don’t need to jump in a snake pit to know they are dangerous.

      Really, the whole world can be the class of the homeschooler if you make it that way.

    2. Your theory has some holes..look at the millions of public school graduates (and “university” grads) who are in perpetual fear of covid and can’t deal with the simplest challenge w/o popping a few xanax…

    3. I’m more in favor of community teaching than at-home teaching. Are American’s really so lazy today there isn’t stay-at-home parents looking for some income? Neighbors could take students to neighbors house for ‘school’. That’s how child care took off.

      Then again Gov-Gun’s have monopolized the education industry quite a bit not only by forced pay but also tyrannical regulations.

  17. In my neighborhood I’ve noticed the parents with younger kids pooling together and hired two real teachers not someone with a BS in “education””, one has a history degree and the other mathematics and physics. One parent renovated his basement and they have a one room school house…kids are taught about four hours a day and then go on organized hikes or just free play time in the park nearby.

    The local teacher union rep is not happy..

  18. Homeschooling allows siblings to spend a lot of time with each other, all learning with their parent-teacher. An atmosphere of learning helps kids bond as they sometimes work together on the same subjects, depending on their grade level. Homeschooling provides an opportunity to build a strong bond within families regards: world best monetized https://hunk-tv.com/ team PVT.LTD

  19. Homeschooling isn’t so bad. During the pandemic everyone switched to online learning, homework of course became many times more. But there is a positive side, students have more opportunities to ask for help. Here’s one place you can go for free essays online https://studentshare.org/, there’s a great selection of essays. I’ve applied here several times and I’ve been impressed.

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