In the wake of the devastating school shooting in Oxford, Michigan this week that claimed the lives of four teenagers and injured seven others, state board of education member Tom McMillin called for an end to Michigan’s compulsory schooling laws.
“The picture of the home-schooled student that emerges from the data doesn’t resemble the socially awkward and ignorant stereotype to which Ms. Bartholet and others appeal. Rather, home-schooled children generally develop into well-adjusted, responsible and socially engaged young adults,” they wrote.
We shouldn’t be too surprised that the ongoing exodus from public schools is leading those loyal to government-run schooling to go on the offensive. A new Washington Post Op-Ed is leading the charge, boldly declaring in its headline: “Parents claim they have the right to shape their kids’ school curriculum. They don’t.”
With most schools open for full-time, in-person learning this year, it seemed reasonable to assume that parents would eagerly re-enroll their children in their local district school, tabling last year’s alternative education plans. That doesn’t seem to be the case.
The homeschooling rate in the US doubled in 2020, and tripled from its pre-pandemic level, as parents sought other options when confronted with prolonged school closures.
In my 2019 book, “Unschooled: Raising Curious, Well-Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom”, which gained even more traction throughout 2020 and 2021 as schools closed and homeschooling soared, I trace the roots of non-coercive, self-directed education back to the Enlightenment and, particularly, to the writings of philosopher John Locke.
Mandates are emerging even though children are, thankfully, not at severe risk from the coronavirus.
Public schools have made life really difficult over the last year and a half, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
It is hard for enterprising individuals to compete with widespread, “free” government offerings.
Whether it’s yesterday’s battles over prayer in school or today’s conflicts over critical race theory, public schooling causes people to fight. It’s a struggle between values and viewpoints that ends with one group imposing its will upon others. The curriculum that is adopted or the one that is shunned inevitably creates winners and losers.