She swore "up and down" that she'd never homeschool her kids. "Patience is not one of my virtues," Kristina Hernandez insisted. "I hate crafts. Playgroups are not my thing. I work a full-time job I love." Homeschooling was never going to happen, until -- thanks to coronavirus -- it did. Now, Kristina, like so many other families around the country, are never going back.
It's a story parents everywhere can identify with. Back in the spring, when thousands of moms and dads decided distance learning was a bust, several made the choice to set up class at home. For a lot of them, taking the plunge wasn't easy. "I'm probably not the best teacher as being a mom," Ohio's Tena Moore Crock admitted. "We struggled a little bit." But, even after a rocky start, she agrees: it was worth it.
Now, with an intense battle raging over whether to reopen schools or not, more parents aren't waiting to see what their districts decide -- they're taking matters into their own hands. A whopping 40 percent of families have been looking at homeschooling this fall. So many, Kristina points out, that North Carolina's school website crashed this month from parents notifying the district they were pulling their children from public schools. They've decided they like the continuity, creativity, and control of teaching at home. "Homeschooling," Katie Kuras explained, "has afforded us so much freedom and opportunity. My kids have really thrived."
Months later, it's tough for those parents to think about trading that in for the erratic schedules, virus risks, and controversial curriculum they were shocked to find out their kids were exposed to. "I take consolation in the fact that I'm the one making our day-to-day decisions about what to study and where to go instead of someone else," Kristina tells readers. And considering what FRC's Cathy Ruse uncovered about sex education, those revelations alone ought to make every parent revisit their options. Add that to the transgender indoctrination, the growing anti-American sentiment, the refusal to teach U.S. history, the secrecy policies on gender identity, Planned Parenthood's on-site clinics, and it's tough to imagine anyone racing to put their kids back on the bus.
"Once loosed from the traditional confines," NRO's Chester Finn writes, "it's hard to picture the schooling genie ever being shoved back into the old bottle." Of course, meanwhile, the president and other administration officials have been adamant about flinging open the school doors this fall. And while I don't fault them for wanting to return some normalcy to life, they're only looking at this from an economic standpoint -- instead of seizing this rare opportunity to fundamentally change the trajectory of education in America.
As I've shared before, my wife and I have homeschooled all five of our children. In fact, we're still on that journey with our youngest. Has it been without challenges? No, but both of us would say we have no regrets. In fact, I'm extremely grateful to my wife for the sacrifice she made in teaching our children. As a result, we now enjoy the blessing of a strong familial bond with all our children -- most of whom are now adults, spiritually mature, and are or soon will be using their abilities to serve the Lord and others. For our family, that outcome would have been extremely difficult without the decision to homeschool.
I'm not saying we should abandon the public school. As Christians, we need to see schools as the mission they are and encourage believers to consider teaching as a profession so that they can be a light in these increasingly dark places. The same is true for school boards. Christians should run for those positions and pull back the curtain on the insidious and destructive indoctrination that is happening in many schools across the nation. But as parents we need to look at other alternatives to government schools.
We need to wrestle education away from the Left's control and expand the choices and alternatives for families, so that their children can get the best education possible. And based on the latest test scores, that's not what they're getting in their public classrooms. Maybe homeschooling isn't the answer for some families -- but private schools or church learning centers are. In these chaotic times, we have the opportunity to change something that -- for the last half century -- has been quietly seeding what's culminated on the streets of major cities all across America this past month. This is the opportunity, not just to protect our children from possibly contracting the virus, but from leftist indoctrination that affects the body, mind, and soul.
Let's unleash school choice, for starters. "Once one opts to keep a child at home, why confine her learning opportunities to what's offered by her district of residence?" Finn asks. "There will be huge demand to get better or more varied curricula and higher-quality pedagogy or greater flexibility... or from distant education providers chosen by parents rather than district bureaucrats. And why does it all have to come from the same place? What about getting some of that child's curriculum from a charter school, a private school, a nonprofit? ...Why limit learning?"
Just this past week, President Trump took steps to expand school choice for Hispanic students, while his education chief, Secretary Betsy DeVos, made a point of taking some of the coronavirus relief money and funneling it into private and religious schools hit hardest by the pandemic. Americans need more moves in that direction. "School choice," as the president himself said at the end of June, "is the civil rights statement of the year... because all children have to have access to quality education."
Rushing students back to one-size-fits-all learning (if they can even get that in such a haphazard, hybrid environment) and liberal ideologue factories is not the solution. Sitting them in front of computer screens for six hours a day isn't either. "It's time for parents to take charge of their kids' schooling. Parents, not teachers or administrators, are the ones in the trenches," the Atlantic's Bethany Mandel insists, "and so parents, not teachers or administrators, need to set the schedule and priorities."
Republicans have always been adamant about one thing: more options for education, not less. The pandemic has teed up the chance to pursue them. So if leaders are in a hurry to reopen something, how about a debate on choice?
For more information on homeschooling and how you can make the transition this fall, check out HSLDA's website, MomPossible.org.