Public education is failing. Curriculum content is losing focus, and test scores are dropping. A nationwide teacher shortage is burdening the few educators who remain in the public school system with more responsibilities, leading to teacher burnout. In addition, about 1 in 10 school children are sexually abused by a teacher or school staff member, and school violence is on the rise due to a national emergency in youth mental health — directly related to isolation from pandemic protocols.
Long before all of these issues came to a head, I was the mother of 2 young girls. My family lived in an urban area where we could walk to the library and the park. Unfortunately the school system lost accreditation just as my eldest reached preschool age.
Our prospects were limited. Private school tuition was well beyond what we could afford, even with tuition assistance. A lottery was set up to allow some students to transfer to another district, but the commute added so much time to the school day that it seemed unreasonable. Although I didn’t know anyone who was homeschooling and the only homeschooler I had known was a cousin with a troubled life, I was forced to take control of my children’s education.
“We didn’t quit the public education system; it failed us.”
Stories like this are not uncommon. Parents in every state are experiencing these tough situations. Many do not have the funding or the energy to seek out charter schools or schedule long school commutes, which have been linked to chronic absenteeism.
Recently, it was assumed that parents are just quitting the system: That we woke up, took a look around, and bailed.
“How can Conservatism reintroduce and restore diversity of thought within public schools and other institutions? First, stop abandoning the institutions by quitting. Resigning your post in protest for reasons of principles is only self-indulgent and does nothing to further the restoration.”
While abandoning institutions may be drastic and seem harsh, this perspective doesn’t properly represent the masses of people who are flocking to homeschooling.
When teachers unions, school boards, and educators fight against parents and continue pressing content that is proven to reduce student success rates, parents have no choice but to abandon the system entirely. In my search to provide my children with the best education possible, I found that most of the homeschooling stereotypes are myths, and children taught at home learn easier. Homeschooled students have scored higher than public school students on SAT and ACT tests for years, and are graduating early.
Throughout the past 10 years, my family has shifted and changed. I went through a divorce, re-marriage, and 2 more births. I now have 4 children happily living and learning in a blended family who were barely affected by extensive pandemic protocols, which led to a 50% increase in youth suicide attempts in 2020. My kids are polite and well-spoken. They respect others because friendship isn’t something that is offered in a room full of kids each day, it’s something found in our community, at the park, and even on grocery trips.
We didn’t quit the public education system; it failed us. The current state of education has been escalating for years. Until the Department of Education accepts that each community has unique needs which cannot be addressed at the federal level, and local officials work with parents to offer appropriate curriculum content, enrollment rates will continue to drop.
I have no interest in ever placing my children in a public school. Although I do have a hefty workload as an author and journalist, my husband and I split the teaching schedule and ensure that our children have fun learning valuable lessons that will help them become successful adults later in life. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. Anyone who doesn’t understand may balk at the idea, but the truth is we’re just doing the best we can for our kids, and I support anyone who does that.
Jessica Marie Baumgartner is a reporter for Go 2 Tutors education news, and homeschooling mother of 4. Her book, Homeschooling on a Budget, comes out August 2 and is available for pre-order on Amazon.