[Story by Jacob Lehrer]
According to the Texas Homeschool Coalition, over 750,000 students in the state of Texas are being homeschooled and the Texas Education Agency has noted a 40% removal of students from public school to homeschool. Texas has had a 2.23% decrease in the public education population. On top of that, more parents are putting their kids in homeschool across the nation, across demographics.
What are the factors for this?
One of the reasons why homeschooling has become so popular in the United States and in Texas has to do with the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic shaped a lot of how we view viruses and how much we fear them. It wasn’t just Covid but any sickness was to be avoided.
In public school, anyone’s bound to get sick there. So there were people wanting to take their students out of public school to prevent getting COVID-19 out of fear, or just prevent the inconvenience of getting multiple quarantines.
Plus, parents on both sides of the Covid debate did not want to fully comply with certain school mandates, or a lack of, such as forcing kids to wear a mask or not forcing them to wear a mask; requiring them to get vaccinated or not required to get vaccinated.
Additionally, there’s been another issue pushing the drive for homeschool and that is the Texas education system itself, there are several issues that have not been resolved.
During the pandemic, There are parents who believe the quality of education went down during the pandemic and virtual learning has been detrimental to their students’ health. Reading and math levels went down during the pandemic. So there were parents who took their students out of the virtual learning process and continued in person learning. Although numbers are going back up to pre-pandemic levels, some parents have kept their child out of the public education system for good.
Furthermore, there are parents who believe that the state caters to a standardized test and not an intuitive quality education focused on their individual child with their skills and talents. Homeschooling allows for that.
But there’s been another issue brewing in Texas education that has also pushed homeschooling across the United States and across Texas. The issue of what should be taught to K-12 students, and the say parents have in their child’s education, has been a national issue for some time. During the Covid-19 pandemic, as students were learning at home, parents had more access to educational materials. In certain parts of the state, parents found certain curriculums, teachings, and books very controversial and inappropriate for their students to learn.
This is not every Texas school district, but there have been notable ones in the news over book bans in the state of Texas, the books accessed by students, and certain curriculum being taught to students in certain school districts. The curriculums go over critical race theory, sexual orientation, and gender studies.
At a homeschool conference earlier this year by the Texas Homeschool Coalition named “Called to Teach”, the conservative watchdog site Texas Scorecard interviewed some parents that said they wanted to pull their child out of the curriculums being taught. They felt like it was indoctrinating to their students.
There is a culture war occurring in Texas public schools, not all of them, but it’s making headlines and it’s not well understood if it is a state wide problem or if it’s just being specifically highlighted in certain public school districts.
Regardless, it is a reason some parents are wanting to homeschool their kids and give them a more traditional education or an education with beliefs and values that the parents hold.