Shutdown’s Silver Lining

The government has closed most schools.

So, more parents are teaching kids at home.

That upsets the government school monopoly.

Education “experts” say parents lack the expertise to teach their kids.

Without state schooling, “learning losses… could well be catastrophic,” says The New York Times. Home schooling “will set back a generation of children,” according to a Washington Post column. Harvard Magazine’s “Risks of Homeschooling” article quotes a professor who calls for a “presumptive ban.”

The professional education establishment actually tried to ban it 98 years ago. Then, they tried to ban private schools, too! But the Supreme Court stopped them, writing, “a child is not the mere creature of the state.”

I wish the state would remember that.

Anyway, the educator’s complaints about home schooling “setting back a generation” are bunk.

Eleven of 14 peer-reviewed studies found home schooling has positive effects on achievement.

In my new video, education researcher Corey DeAngelis explains, “Children who are home-schooled get much better academic and social results than kids in government schools.”

Even though they are more likely to be poor, “Home-schoolers score 30% higher on SAT tests.” They also do better in college, and they are less likely to drink or do drugs.

“Mass home schooling during this pandemic,” says DeAngelis, “may actually be a blessing.”

Debbie Dabin, a mom in Utah, is one of many parents who started home schooling this spring and now is “definitely considering home schooling” next year.

Dabin bought teaching materials over the internet from a company called The Good and the Beautiful. Her son likes the lessons better than what he got in school. “It’s great,” Dabin says. “He likes the activities; he wants to do them.”

Before the pandemic, he’d told his mom he hated school.

I hated school, too. Classes were boring. Listening to lectures is a poor way to learn, and unnecessary today.

In addition to home-school teaching programs, there are also free internet games that teach things like math, reading and writing, while customizing the speed of lessons to each learner’s needs.

Sites like Education.com teach math by letting kids adjust pizza toppings.

For older kids, YouTube channels like TED-Ed and Khan Academy offer “free educational videos from the world’s foremost experts on civics, history, mathematics,” adds DeAngelis.

“Not good enough!” say “experts.”

Michael Rebell, a professor at Teachers College at Columbia University, worries that if parents home-school, “There’s no guarantee that kids are learning democratic values, civic knowledge.”

“Were they learning that in their regular schools?” I asked.

“Well… it’s in the curriculum,” he responded.

So what? 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.

Another question: “America fought Hitler and Germany in which war?” More picked the Civil War than World War II.

Nevertheless, said Rebell, home schooling is still worse because “there’s no effective regulation to know what’s going on.”

“You sound like you think — because there’s regulation, that makes something happen,” I said.

“I do,” he replied. “Where there’s no regulation, that’s a worse situation.”

But “no regulation” is the wrong way to think about it. There is plenty of regulation. It just comes from legislators and families instead of education bureaucrats.

If this pandemic steers more parents away from state schools, that’s probably a good thing.

Philosopher John Stuart Mill warned: “State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another… which pleases the predominant power in the government (and) establishes a despotism over the mind.”

A silver lining to this pandemic is that now more parents are learning about their options outside the government system.

12 thoughts on “Shutdown’s Silver Lining

  1. As a teacher in a wonderful public school with amazing teachers, I take offense to your blanket negativity of our schools. While I agree that there is too much regulation from the state level, I think that you over look the fact that in small schools and in rural communities these schools do more than just teach the curriculum. They are community centers and employers. Also in these communities, public schools are the only option. Many parents have no desire to home school their children. Is individualized education at home a great option? Sure, but it does not work for everyone. Please stop demonizing educators who work hard and put their heart and soul into their craft.

    1. To me, this didn’t feel like a hit piece against public school teachers. I took this video as a pro-home schooling perspective. I think the mainstream modern opinion is that homeschooling is an inferior form of education that should only be a last resort. Here we see how families may find homeschooling to be a better way to teach their children. The only thing I saw as negativity were some accurate realities about the disparity in SAT scores and so on between homeschool and public school students. Maybe your school in particular doesn’t have these failings, but clearly many public schools are struggling to give quality education to their students and it is worth addressing.

    2. No the point is the system no longer has the power of indoctrination. Let’s see, many among the millennial generation think socialism is a great idea. Where’d they get the idea that the biggest and most widespread failed demonstration on the face of the earth might work anyway? TEACHERS that’s where. Chris Queen.

  2. We need to encourage home schooling. Give the education $ per child to the homeschooling moms and dads.

  3. When has choice ever really been a bad thing. If a child excels in public schools, let them return. If they do well in charter schools, that should be an equal option. And if, heaven forbid, parents and family have the time and attention to give their child, then I see no reason to force their kids into a system that has not changed since the industrial revolution.

  4. After schools reopen and teachers go back to teaching math in the news ways, all the kids are gonna respond with
    “That’s not the way my mom taught me to do it — mom’s way was easier and better — now I can even do math in my head”

  5. Nice article John, but as a former physical education teacher and coach I wonder how home schooling helps with physical development. Most studies seem to show an increase in obesity levels and diabetes. Will more time in front of a computer help this, or increase these levels.
    Will home school students learn to coexist with others? Will they have the enjoyment of playing sports and making life long friends? Of course they can play on expensive club teams, oh wait, what about those who can’t afford the fees. Another philosopher, Herbert Spencer said, “don’t let the mental exceed the physical “.
    Just a few random thoughts from a retired teacher.

    1. As a graduated homeschooler, registered nurse, and current homeschool teacher I’ll respond to your points. The blessing of homeschooling is that there is more time in the day for the child to be active and play outside. Regular physical activity of various kinds is just as beneficial if not more so than playing one specific sport. Homeschooling is prevalent enough that there are usually one or more free groups in any vicinity. These groups can be structured in numerous ways to meet the needs of that selection of students. A science class taught by a nurse/mother, field trips, choirs, or backyard sports by the dads are just a few examples. Yes, there are expensive sports teams available but that doesn’t mean the poor lack opportunities for physical exercise or interaction with other children.
      Also, the act of homeschooling doesn’t automatically mean that child will be in front of a computer for more hours in the day than a publicly schooled child. Computers are tools used in both venues. In our home, they are probably used less. Thank you for your years of service! There are many families who do choose to use public school and it is teachers like you who care which make all the difference.

  6. At least we now get to see what they are attempting to teach. Many parents are in shock, but many can do it easily. The individual attention is what causes the student to advance quicker. Many very intelligent students are either being slowed down by the whole classroom setting unless its an advanced class, but then they usually have work overload. I still love public school for the friendships, band, clubs, etc….but not the bullying or bomb threats. I also love home school because a parent can fill in the gaps where public educators are often too regulated, which is great if it is wierd sexual health assignments.

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