Homeschooling Tsunami in NC

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by Kristine Christlieb  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  July 9, 2020   

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RALEIGH, N.C. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Families intent on homeschooling are so numerous that North Carolina's non-public education system is crashing.

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Gov. Roy Cooper

The state of North Carolina requires homeschooling families to file a "Notice of Intent." So many families were trying to register on July 1 that the state's website could not keep up. A notice told parents, "The system is not currently available due to an overwhelming submission of Notices of Intent."

Earlier that day, North Carolina's Democrat governor Roy Cooper announced he would delay reopening the state's schools. Cooper's delay leaves parents in limbo about what will happen this fall. Some North Carolina school districts say they'll open but at greatly reduced capacity and then, only on rotating weeks.

Concerns About Schools

Presidential candidate Joe Biden raised concerns among parents with his recent controversial comments that emphasized teachers over students.

Speaking to the National Education Association on July 3, Biden told the powerful teachers' union that he would have a "teacher-oriented Department of Education." But sending their children to schools in which the focus is on teachers instead of students is what many families want to avoid.

Even before the pandemic-related shutdown of schools, many parents across the country already had reservations about sending their children to public schools with left-leaning agendas. Florida Catholics Against Common Core's Rolando Perez told Church Militant that parents also want to avoid the "indoctrination, data mining and constant testing that Common Core has brought to schools, including Catholic schools."

He and other parents believe the priority for Common Core State Standards seems to be preparing students for future jobs.

Parents want to avoid the 'indoctrination, data mining and constant testing that Common Core has brought to schools, including Catholic schools.'

"The standards then become utilitarian and distract from students' moral and spiritual formation by placing too much emphasis on testing and performance," he explained.

Growing Parental Interest

Even if Cooper had a fixed plan to reopen schools, a poll by RealClear Opinion Research in May predicted a shift toward home schools. It found that "40% of families are more likely to homeschool or virtual school after lockdowns, and that 64% support school choice and 69% support the federal Education Freedom Scholarships proposal."

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Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) classifies North Carolina's homeschooling regulations as relatively moderate. But when parents in the Tarheel State register their home school, one of the first questions the state asks is whether the home school is religious or nonreligious. The state does not explain, however, why it wants or needs that information.

Recognizing that parents may be troubled by the request, the state's instructions try to reassure parents:

The religious or nonreligious designation is completely at the chief administrator's [typically, the parent] discretion. One does not supersede the other, and there is not any more or less regulation for one versus the other. It is truly a personal preference for being identified as religious or nonreligious.

Both the recent attempts to foist additional regulations on home schools as well as blatant prejudice toward home school families are fueling Christians' concerns.

Attack on Homeschooling

Leading the charge against home schools is Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Bartholet.

It's always dangerous to put powerful people in charge of the powerless and to give the powerful ones total authority.
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Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Bartholet and James Dwyer

Bartholet and similarly opinionated James Dwyer, a law professor at William and Mary, attempted to convene a group of elite education activists, lawyers and social workers to discuss home school "problems." Their conference was titled the "Homeschooling Summit: Problems, Politics and Prospects for Reform." It was scheduled for June but was canceled owing to fears of the Wuhan virus. The two law professors are rescheduling the summit for 2021.

Bartholet is saying that homeschooled children are at greater risk for abuse. She claims, "It's always dangerous to put powerful people in charge of the powerless and to give the powerful ones total authority."

Samuel James, editor of Crossway Books, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece titled "A Harvard Professor Shows Her Prejudice Against Homeschoolers," refutes Bartholet's apparent straw-man assertions:

Ms. Bartholet's case against homeschooling follows a familiar script. She begins by assuming that whatever horrible thing could happen to a homeschooling child probably is happening. Lack of strict regulation in all 50 states means, to her, that "people can homeschool who've never gone to school themselves, who don't read or write themselves." I've never known a homeschooling family about whom that was true. My parents were both college graduates, and my mother worked in the public school system before starting her family.

Some schools are in a conflict of interest when it comes to allowing parents to withdraw their children. In some cases, public schools lack the staff necessary to process parent requests to have their children removed. Other schools, seeking to preserve their student population in order to protect school funding, are slow-walking requests from parents to withdraw their children.

AngReason Foundation's Corey Deelis is saying that if just 2% of families opt for homeschooling, "that could result in 1 million fewer students and a reduction of $15 billion in education funding."

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