by Derrick Max
Over the last few years, homeschooling has grown in Virginia by almost 40 percent. In fact, homeschoolers in Virginia now account for almost 60,000 students — making homeschooling the fifth largest school district in the Commonwealth. Because homeschoolers are self-funded, this saves Virginia’s state and local governments almost $800 million per year.
More importantly, homeschoolers outperform public school students in almost every measurable category. Homeschoolers score significantly higher on standardized tests, have higher college graduation rates, lower rates of depression and anxiety, and succeed at higher rates as adults.
Yet, The Washington Post reported in The Revolt of the Christian Home-Schoolers (May 30, 2023), based almost solely on one couple’s experience, as a “conscious rejection of contemporary ideas about biology, history, gender equity and the role of religion in American Government.” The article, with scant evidence, concludes that there is an “unmistakable backlash” of formerly homeschooled children denouncing homeschooling.
Riddled with references to “indoctrination” and “abuse,” homeschooling is painted by The Washington Post as a fringe and dangerous educational option. These homeschoolers “could not recover or reconstruct the lost opportunities of their childhood” as “there were so many things they had not learned.” Continue reading
by Kerry Dougherty
I have a new hero. I don’t know her real name but in her Southeast Washington D.C. neighborhood, they just call her “Grandma.”
Last Friday Grandma was on her way to chemo when a 15-year-old punk walked up and ordered her to hand over her car keys.
“I have a gun,” he said.
“Baby, you’d better shoot me because you’re not taking my car,” she shot back.
A struggle ensued — Grandma’s hand was sliced by the keys — but she screamed for help and help arrived. Her grandson and some other neighborhood boys heard the commotion, and ran to her defense.
The would-be car jacker was taken away in an ambulance.
Score one for the good guys. And for Grandma.
by Jim McCarthy
Compulsory K-12 education under state law is a fact often taken for granted since its enactment in 1908 in the Commonwealth of Virginia. In 1984, the state authorized homeschooling initiated by an earlier Supreme Court decision in 1972 (Wisconsin v Yoder), providing for a religious exemption from compulsory attendance in public schools.
At present, some 56,000 youth are homeschooled in Virginia. Enhanced empowerment of parents was a principal plank in Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s campaign for the statehouse and continues to be extolled even as he travels around the country in support of GOP candidates. The newly elected Speaker of the House of Delegates, Todd Gilbert (R-Woodstock), enthusiastically proclaimed upon his elevation, “We’re all about empowering parents.”
Under current regulations, homeschooling is authorized where parents demonstrate the following:
1. Possession of a valid high school diploma (or a higher degree, such as can be obtained through a university), which must be submitted to the district’s superintendent (a GED does not fulfill this requirement); or,
2. A valid teacher’s certificate as approved by the state; or,
3. Provide a distance or correspondence curriculum approved by the Superintendent of Public Instruction; or,
4. Provide evidence that they, as the teaching parent, can meet the Virginia Standards of Learning objectives.
Perhaps, under the excitement of the leadership of Youngkin and Gilbert, a newly woke conservative effort is emerging designed further to shed or minimize state control in this area. Del. John McGuire (R-Louisa) introduced House Bill 1454 to eliminate the existing qualifications for homeschool proctors. Evidence of student academic progress remains a requisite at the end of the school year and may be based upon a standardized test on a nationally recognized examination, or an evaluation by a licensed educator, or a report from a distance-learning vendor. Continue reading
Martin Luther King Middle School Richmond. Credit RCPS.
by James C. Sherlock
I have crafted and will share what I believe to be an epitaph for public education in Virginia.
All of the evidence we see is that Virginia’s public school system, counseled and cheered on by its disgraceful publicly funded schools of education, is crumbling at its foundations.
We start children in school at ever younger ages to give them a head start. We have moved supervision of child care to the Department of Education, thus rearranging the deck chairs.
Many of the adults in the system, and quite possibly many of the students, have given up on education in actual facts. Adults argue about the teaching of history as if, evidence aside, kids were going to learn it.
Displacing traditional course time, teachers are directed to spend dedicated hours to try to instill social-emotional learning that kids traditionally learned at home.
Those kids who already have those skills sit wondering what they have done wrong.
The lessons plans, unfortunately, will tell them soon enough.
But that is just the beginning. Continue reading
by James A. Bacon
Virginians have a higher interest in home schooling than would be predicted by their level of education, political leanings, or incomes — demographic factors explored in a report by eLearningWorld.
Interest in home schooling has soared nationally since the beginning of the COVID epidemic, writes self-described e-Learning technology geek Scott Winstead, and with school closures still in the cards in many districts, there is no indication that interest is diminishing.
Partnering with Mindnet Analytics, a data science consulting firm, eLearningWorld used online search trends to gauge the level of interest in homeschooling for the 50 states. It found that the level of interest in Virginia was higher than in 35 other states (including the District of Columbia). Continue reading