Will COVID Boost Participation in the Homeschool Movement?

Will COVID Boost Participation in the Homeschool Movement?
Will COVID Boost Participation in the Homeschool Movement?

The COVID crisis has been a boon to leftists in the form of unprecedented entitlements and government controls.

However, there is also one bright spot on the conservative horizon. There is a surge in the number of parents opting to homeschool their children.

An Encouraging Trend

According to an Associated Press story, about 3.3% of American homes engaged in homeschooling before the COVID outbreak—a figure that had been steady for several years. In the spring of 2020, that number exploded to 5.4%. By the fall, that rate doubled again to about 11%.

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Those figures come from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. The report accompanying the survey explores the reasons why parents chose to homeschool. “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.”

It is too early to know what will happen during the new 2021-2022 school year, but all things indicate that there will be another substantial increase.

Those numbers do not bode well for the U.S. Department of Education bureaucrats and their hordes of counterparts on the state level. This is a sterling example of parents “voting with their feet.”

Two other groups should also take note. They are the major public teachers’ unions—the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).

Preventing Needed Reforms

The bureaucrats and the unions have long urged that all American students be enrolled in public schools. To accomplish this end, they have pursued two key strategies.

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First, all teachers in any school—public, private, or parochial—must be certified by the state. Thus, all teachers must pass through state-approved training programs, in which they can be indoctrinated by collectivist educational theories based on the work of John Dewey. The success of this policy is one reason why many Catholic schools run away from traditional Catholic practices and embrace the methods of public schools.

The second strategy is to pull out all stops to prevent any semblance of educational choice. The unions and their government allies work hard to defeat voucher plans, charter schools or direct aid to students. When this cannot be prevented, the unions have usually limited their scope and effectiveness.

The unions can do this because their members, even those who disagree with these policies, are forced to pay dues, which go, in turn, to liberal candidates for public office.

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These practices guarantee a monopoly within the field of education—and the tax dollars that go with it.

Rejecting Educational Panaceas

One pillar supporting this monopoly is the pretended interest in educating minority groups. Much ink has been spilled in devising solutions for an “achievement gap” that defies resolution. Much of the interest in Critical Race Theory is an attempt to distract attention from this abject failure. Now, that façade is cracking.

The AP story notes that homeschooling’s increased popularity is even more significant within key ethnic groups. “Black households saw the largest jump in rates of homeschooling, going from 3.3% in the spring to 16.1% in the fall. The rate for Hispanic households of any race went from 6.2% to 12.1%. It went from 4.9% to 8.8% for Asian households, and from 5.7% to 9.7% for non-Hispanic white households.”

A recent Fox News story featured one such African-American family.

“Arlena and Robert Brown of Austin, Texas, had three children in elementary school when the pandemic took hold. After experimenting with virtual learning, the couple opted to try homeschooling with a Catholic-oriented curriculum provided by Seton Home Study School, which serves about 16,000 students nationwide…. ‘I didn’t want my kids to become a statistic and not meet their full potential,’ said Robert Brown, a former teacher who now does consulting. ‘And we wanted them to have very solid understanding of their faith.’”

A Homeschooling Success Story

The Browns are not the only family that has chosen Seton in COVID’s wake. Draper Warren, Seton’s Director of Admissions, told this author that their enrollment went from 12,000 before COVID to slightly over 20,000 now.

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“God had us in the right place at the right time,” Mr. Warren explained. “With almost every physical school in the country halting in-person learning, and the attempt made by many schools at remote learning being poorly executed due to lack of any experience, families were desperate for another option. There are other secular or Protestant homeschool options available, but for the families who wanted a Catholic education, Seton was the obvious choice for many of them.

“Ultimately, the reason that families choose Seton is because we try to share the richness of the Catholic Faith and Catholic tradition in all of our books and courses. I think a lot of Catholic families who are attending public school or even some diocesan schools which perhaps relegate Religion to just one subject not even done every day, know that they are missing out on something.”

Defeating the Left

Amid COVID restrictions, the riots after the death of George Floyd, the hysteria over “defunding” the police and Critical Race Theory, the left has capitalized on these crises to advance its agenda. However, these moves have caused discontent and suspicion that makes the left vulnerable.

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These crises are now challenging the left’s educational indoctrination. The increased popularity of homeschooling is only one sign that God can bring order and beauty out of the chaos that the left creates or utilizes.

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