Homeschooling Ramps Up in Texas: Families Prepare to Continue Kids’ Education From Home Rather Than Return to the Classroom
The number nearly tripled in just a few months. The reason? Covid restrictions. In early 2020, 4.5% of Texas families homeschooled, but by October that number had soared to 12.3%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Over 72% of those families plan to continue homeschooling their kids this year, according to a recent survey.
Director of Public Policy for Texas Home School Coalition Jeremy Newman spoke with The Stream recently about the sharp rise in homeschooling within the state. The nonprofit THSC protects the right of families to homeschool and empowers those families by providing resources they need to be able to homeschool.
Not Going Back
Jeremy said that the growth in numbers in 2020 happened because the Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced new guidelines for schools — which were “really onerous” — in July 2020. This year, they’re experiencing the same thing. “Right before the school year starts, the CDC is coming out and saying that the Delta variant of the virus has gotten so bad that [they’re] going to have to revert back to everyone wearing masks, even vaccinated people wearing masks.”
Although Texas hasn’t yet, other states are reconsidering lockdowns. “And so, I think all of that has combined to leave a lot of parents in this state of uncertainty about what the school year will look like and whether they feel safe sending their kids to school … and a lot of people are deciding they’re not going back.”
Providing a Learning Environment in the Home
Parents are absolutely capable of homeschooling their kids, said Jeremy, even though they may not know where to start or they don’t feel qualified. “Whether a parent has a GED or a PhD does not have any statistical effect on the academic outcome for the student,” he explained.
“The reason for that, in my opinion at least, is that the job of the parent is not to just transfer information from their head to the student’s head. The job of the parent is to provide a learning environment. … You’re creating an environment where the student can learn because the student wants to learn.”
More Ways to Do Education
While public school districts are hoping kids will come back, Jeremy said they’re offering limited solutions, which are not enough. Texas has decided to discontinue funding for distance learning programs, effective September 1 this year, Jeremy said. It will now be up to the schools to decide whether they can pay for the distance education. “And so that’s a huge blow to the already limited flexibility that they had.”
“Frankly, I think that they’re really trying to get people back into the brick and mortar public school. But if that is the only solution they’re offering, then I think they’re kind of missing the boat because the whole trend here is people are realizing there are a lot more ways to do education than that.”