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Public School Monopolies – Game On

Students walking to school
By: Ivy Nichols – June 9, 2020

While some schools have made decisions about whether or not they are going to open again in the fall, the decisions and game plan of many are still up in the air. Children do not learn well when they are made to sit in front of a computer for a long period of time. They need to be moving, touching, exploring, and discussing things. If schools do not open again in the fall, many may switch to homeschooling.

In her article, “What Will Schools Do in the Fall? Here Are 4 Possible Scenarios,” Emily Tate explains the choices schools will likely have. She says the options are “brick to click,” “click to brick,” blended, and online learning. “Brick to click” means that students would start out in the school, but teachers would be prepared for a rapid transition to online learning if there was a breakout in the school or nearby. “Click to brick” would start students out online, but if conditions improved, eventually allow them to return to the building. Blended learning would combine in-person and long-distance learning, possibly through having children only come one or a few times a week. The last option is to continue online learning with almost no in-person instruction. It is likely that the strategies schools across the nation choose will vary widely. 

All this uncertainty, combined with job uncertainty for many, can put a lot of stress on parents. If schools are closed, many daycares and after-school activities that parents relied upon to watch their children while they work may remain closed as well. This makes it hard for parents to have a set schedule to allow both to work full time out-of-home. 

As Michael Brendan Dougherty writes for the National Review, “…if I have to take the time to gather all the materials for every lesson and make sure all my children’s [sic] activity is logged, if I have to sit next to them while they do their school work to make sure they are connected and properly muted or unmuted, then I’m taking on almost all the personal costs of homeschooling while getting none of the benefits of it. Those benefits include determining the time and content of lessons, the books we use, the online tutors I hire, the friends that work with us, the pace that we go, and the days we are off.” 

As an elementary homeschooler, we had the freedom to go on field trips, have one-on-one instruction from our mom to make sure we were “getting” the material, and were not allowed to move on until we understood the information and had corrected our mistakes. It is safe to say that I learned more in elementary school than during my triple major studies in college. 

To many, the idea of teaching your own children can seem extremely daunting. However, being a homeschool parent does not mean you have to “go it alone” or be knowledgeable in every subject. There are many excellent curriculums for different subjects, both in hard copy and online. In addition, many areas have large homeschooling communities. 

Many homeschoolers are also able to sign up at co-ops that meet in person one or more times a week, similar to a college schedule. Many of these offer classes in science, math, and other subjects parents don’t feel qualified to teach. Some will also have classes in worldviews, theology, philosophy, writing, apologetics, and others; all from a biblical world view. 

And while homeschooled children are often around other children less frequently (2-5 times a week rather than constantly) and have to learn how to foster and put effort into relationships they want to keep, that is something they will have to do later in life, anyway. 

However, public schools – which get money based on the number of students they have attending – have a semi-monopoly on education that they would like to keep. Rather than the real estate being Park Place (as in the board game) the real estate is the students, and they would much rather “collect rent” than “sell.” 

The New York Times, Washington Post, and Harvard have all attacked homeschooling. They claim that it will set children back, that they are more likely to be abused because they are not being observed by teachers, and that they will not learn democratic values and knowledge. However, John Stossel writes in The Daily Signal, that “The Nation’s Report Card, the government’s biggest nationwide test, reveals that government school students don’t know much about history or civics. One question asked fourth graders, ‘Which country was the leading communist nation during the Cold War?’ Only 21% answered the Soviet Union. More said France or Germany. American students did worse than if they had guessed randomly.” 

He also says “Eleven of 14 peer-reviewed studies found homeschooling has positive effects on achievement. In Stossel’s new video, education researcher Corey DeAngelis explains, ‘Children who are homeschooled get much better academic and social results than kids in government schools.’ Even though they are more likely to be poor, ‘Homeschoolers score 30% higher on SAT tests.’ They also do better in college, and they are less likely to drink or do drugs.”

Corey DeAngelis, writing for the Washington Examiner, says the author of the Harvard Magazine article “also forgot to mention the report from the US Department of Education estimating that around 1 in 10 children attending government schools will experience sexual misconduct by school employees by the time they graduate from high school. If anything, by Bartholet’s [the author of the Harvard article] own logic, she should be calling for a presumptive ban on government schooling.”

Certainly, many families will not want to or be able to homeschool and will send their children back to public school as soon as schools open up again. But for some, a switch to homeschooling may be more convenient, and more conducive to a quality education. It just remains to see for how many. Public school monopolies – game on.


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