The Post-COVID World: More Home Schooling

by James A. Bacon

The Home Educators Association of Virginia has seen a dramatic increase in inquiries about home schooling since the advent of the COVID-19 epidemic. In the past three months there have been 3,000 new members to the association’s Facebook page and 2,000 new requests to join through the website.

“Since [the pandemic], people are trying to figure out what to do. They’re very concerned now that the regulations and procedures on classrooms have been announced,” Anne Miller, president of the Home Educators association, told WYDaily. “Many parents are concerned about anxiety in the classroom and the threat of resurgence in the fall.”

Perhaps most notably, home schooling among African-American families is on the rise. Home schooling, say many African-American parents, helped their children learn about black history and culture. Home-schooled black children also out-perform their peers nationally, scoring above the 50th percentile in reading, language math and other core subjects, according to a 2015 National Home Education Research Institute study.

By accelerating the acceptance of the work-from-home norm, the COVID-19 epidemic may give parents more flexibility to home school their children. “I don’t believe as many people are going to want to go back to the office,” Miller said. “If you want to home school, there’s almost always a way to make it work with a working parent and working from home.”

Home schooling is not for everyone, and it likely never will be. It requires significant parental involvement, which may be more than many working single mothers or families reliant upon two paychecks can provide. Fewer than one-third of married-couple households in the U.S. with children under 18 had a stay-at-home parent.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 32.7% of Virginia’s 2.7 million households had children under 18 at home, and married-couple families accounted for 52.8% of all households. This particular Census source did not break out the number of married-couple households with children at home, but an order-of-magnitude guesstimate would be around 500,000 in Virginia. The number of home-school children in the state, 32,282 in the 2019-20 school year, has almost doubled since 2002-03. Clearly, the home school movement has considerable room to grow. 

Among the greatest virtues of home schooling is the ability to mold teaching methods to a child’s individual learning styles, and to progress at a pace matching the child’s ability to absorb and master new concepts. The conventional schooling model at both public and private schools, of moving all children in lockstep leaves many children behind. 

Home schooling is far more innovative and flexible than stultified, bureaucratic, and politicized public school systems. More and more educational content is available online, and many home schoolers form Web-enabled cooperatives like the Historical Triangle Classical Conversations organization in the Williamsburg area. The flexibility provided by work-from-home will open up even more possibilities.

Another accelerant for the home school movement could be the increasing emphasis in many districts on a leftist view of racial inclusion and equity. The leftist narrative, pushed by the Virginia Department of Education and gaining increasing traction locally, goes far beyond making schools welcoming to students of all racial/ethnic backgrounds. It teaches a doctrine of white privilege and white guilt, and it allows no dissent. Submit or be shamed into silence.

Because no dissent is permitted, many parents keep their mouths shut. But don’t be surprised if many decide to educate their children at home where they can raise their children in a manner consistent with their own beliefs and values. As Virginia public schools begin to resemble re-education camps, inculcating a leftist, social justice ethic while neglecting math, reading, writing, and analytical thinking, the trickle of Virginia families to home schooling could become a torrent.

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