Perhaps worried about a stampede for the exits, government education officials from Oregon to Florida are trying to prevent parents from withdrawing their children from public school and formally beginning homeschooling. Pro-homeschool forces are fighting back, however.
As the coronavirus shutdown drags on for weeks and potentially even months, millions of families across America are getting their first taste of home education. Many are discovering that it works well for them, too. Advocates expect a surge in homeschooling numbers after the summer.
At the same time, millions of parents are also seeing for the first time the extreme indoctrination, sexualization, and dumbing down their children are being subjected to in public schools across America. With public schools trying to move online, more than a few parents have been shocked and appalled at what they are seeing.
For the government-school system, this could be a catastrophe of unprecedented proportions, with the ongoing exodus from public schools potentially becoming a massive torrent. With less students, the schools and districts would get less tax dollars — and less minds to shape. And so, education bureaucrats are fighting back, hard.
Consider the story of an Oregon family that sent a note on March 31 informing education officials that they intended to withdraw their children from public school and begin homeschooling. Registrar Laurie Grant with Westview High School, though, responded by saying that she was not able to “inactivate” any student’s enrollment.
“This mandate comes down from the Oregon Department of Education and Cabinet,” Grant said in a response obtained by The Newman Report, adding that all schools and districts throughout the state had been ordered to keep all students enrolled for the rest of the school year.
“We are asking all student’s [sic] to continue with the districts [sic] online distance learning that we have in place for them,” Grant’s error-riddled note to the family continued. “Teachers and counselors are available to contact if you have further questions.”
Some schools in Oregon have made similar announcements. The Willamette Connections Academy, for instance, declared on its website that “the Oregon Department of Education has advised that no students are able to withdraw or enroll in any schools during the school closure.”
The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), the world’s most powerful homeschooling group, documented a similar horror story in Florida on its website. The account involves a mom known simply as “Amber” for the story who decided to withdraw her children from government school and begin home education amid the coronavirus.
After some back and forth with the local bureaucrats, she was told that, “according to upper leadership, all students will stay with current Palm Beach County Schools until further notice, according to the Enrollment and Withdrawal Procedures for the Virtual Continuity Support Plan.” Several other parents reportedly encountered the same response.
“My jaw dropped,” Amber was quoted as saying about the reaction from the district. “I realized they were trying to tell me that my children would not be withdrawn, and that I couldn’t homeschool.”
HSLDA Attorney Thomas Schmidt, himself a homeschool father, said he expected officials to withdraw all those students from government school as promptly as possible. And he vowed to continue working state and local leaders to protect homeschool rights. But how this saga ends remains to be seen.
As more and more Americans turn to homeschooling, expect efforts to stop it by the education establishment and the government schools to intensify. If educational liberty is going to survive and thrive, proponents of homeschooling and non-governmental alternatives must remain vigilant and engaged.