By Connie Pillsbury
This past year in education brought mostly bad news, sad news, and upsetting news. But the silver lining is that this turmoil that upset the apple cart of the government schools monopoly has allowed parents to rethink options and alternatives for their children.
The necessity to break free of the failing public system opened to door to exploring new educational solutions for families. This was uncharted territory for parents, but once they grasped the idea that they could actually be in charge of their children’s education and succeed, the possibilities were endless. These first explorations into school alternatives are providing education models for the future.
One emerging trend across the country is the concept of Hybrid Homeschooling academies, where students spend two or three days a week in a traditional brick-and-mortar location supplemented by homeschooling the other days. In the more formal arrangement, classes are taught by experienced teachers, with the curriculum set by the parents. These settings stress academic and societal excellence and meet the needs of families for structure, socialization, and community.
A more informal version of these academies are Homeschool Pods, where homeschooling parents volunteer to teach a combined group of students three or more days a week in a suitable location as a church, community hall, converted office buildings, or other acceptable sites. The parents select and purchase the age-appropriate curriculum to use in a group setting while maintaining their autonomy as independent homeschools under their own affidavit.
Due to the increasing number of homeschoolers, now nationally, 11.1 percent of K-12 students, parents are organizing weekly outdoor adventure and sports clubs, homeschool choirs, and extracurricular workshops of all types. It’s no longer taboo to homeschool, contrasting with the stereotyped view of 20 to 30 years ago. The reasons given for homeschooling have changed from primarily religious of the early days to academic success, safety, and freedom from the culture wars pushing certain ideologies and inappropriate information on children at a young age.
Waiting right around the next corner from the homeschool surge is the burgeoning School Choice movement gaining impetus in California. The California School Choice Foundation has presented an initiative to the California Attorney General’s office for approval to begin collecting one million signatures necessary to place it on the November 2022 ballot. California would join 36 other states in providing school choice “regardless of zip code” for our students.
According to the School Choice website, the initiative is known as the Education Freedom Act and will establish an Education Savings Account for each K-12 child in California on request, starting at $14,00 per year per student. The parent will direct the ESA trust funds to a participating, accredited private or parochial school. The money will follow the student, not the politicians. Any unspent funds will accumulate and can be spent on college, vocational training, or other qualified educational expense. You can read more about the Initiative at californiaschoolchoice.org.
If you were educated in our public schools in the 1950s, 60s, and beyond, you probably received a quality education and have great, positive memories. You may be asking, “What is driving this move toward homeschool, hybrid academies, charter schools, and school choice? Why can’t we just fix our public schools?”
The answer lies not in your local schools, teachers, or your School Board but in powerful forces beyond our reach: The California State Legislature, Governor Newsom, California Department of Education, California Teachers Association, the LGBTQ lobby, and radical education “Experts” in Academia.
With all of that top-heavy entrenched authoritarian power in Sacramento, it’s no wonder so many parents have opted for new and innovative approaches to education outside of government schools. The positive momentum and energy in this movement is exciting to watch. A Silver Lining indeed.
Families Seeking Better Alternatives, American Essence Magazine, Issue 4, p. 74
Gender Ideology Run Amok, Abigail Shrier, Imprimis, June/July 2021, V. 50, Number 6/7
Connie Pillsbury is an independent opinion columnist for The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press; you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.