With virtually no warning, the coronavirus pandemic shuttered schools from sea to shining sea in March, with most children going on spring break vacation never to return. All of a sudden, millions of American families were forced to confront the reality of homeschooling their kids for the remainder of the year (with help from teachers who struggled to learn a new system, teach without contact, and educate their students through the magic of distance learning). But no matter how involved and dedicated the teachers were, the ultimate responsibility – particularly for families with young children – fell on the parents.
And some…many, perhaps…found that they took to the new role with relish.
Having discovered that they can handle the burden of homeschooling their children, many parents who already had a skeptical view of sending their kids into the Indoctrination Zone five days a week are now seriously thinking about turning homeschooling into a full-time proposition. Others are concerned that the pandemic will be far from eradicated by late August/early September, when schools are slated to open back up for the fall semester.
But as it turns out, public schools are not cooperating with parents who want to withdraw their kids. Indeed, T.J. Schmidt, an attorney for the Home School Legal Defense Association, says that many schools are making it very difficult for families to take their kids out of school and switch to a homeschooling format.
“We see this across the country. I’ve had school officials attempt to prevent or dissuade parents from pulling their kids out,” Schmidt said in an interview with Fox News. “There’s two main reasons – school officials are fearful of losing too many students to homeschooling, and the second reason is perhaps a staffing issue, just a lacking staffing issue to process these withdrawals. Not always an issue of trying to stop parents from homeschooling but there is a significant part of that involved.”
Schmidt said it was not surprising that parents were turning to the homeschooling option during these tumultuous times.
“There are a variety of reasons parents are choosing homeschooling now,” he said. “Some of these families were already contemplating homeschooling and COVID-19 pushed them over the edge. Other families are concerned about how the districts have addressed the situation. Whether it’s a basic miscommunication or something more nefarious where they’re actively working to prohibit parents from educating their children at home, HSLDA steps in making sure we’re defending the family, providing assistance and support. Our goal is to make sure they understand the legal requirements, the responsibilities, and even the joys of homeschooling.”
In addition to the sometimes-questionable teachings and the coronavirus, parents are undoubtedly concerned with the nationwide push towards reduced discipline for minorities – a movement that has seen classroom behavior in many cities go from bad to worse. For many families, the COVID-19 risk may just be the straw that breaks an already-weakened back.