Homeschooling enrollment is up in Montana and public and private schooling down as more parents seek-in person options amid a growing confusion and concern around the impact of the novel coronavirus on their children’s education.
State education officials announced that the number of parents choosing to homeschool increased 62% this fall, as thousands of parents eschewed the public and private option and introduced 3,640 students to school around the dining table. These numbers correspond well to a recent Gallup poll, which according to FEE, show “the rate of homeschooling has doubled since last year to nearly 10 percent, while the rate of children enrolled in a district school declined seven percent to 76 percent of the overall US K-12 student population.”
With many schools going virtual, distance learning, operating on a rotation of both in-person classes and remote learning, or just shutting down until the near year altogether, spokesperson Dylan Klapmeier of the Office of Public Instruction says that most of the gains come from elementary schools.
“Anecdotally, we have heard from parents that their high school students are more easily able to adapt to the distance learning than elementary students might be able to.”
This makes sense, as parents are either concerned about the lack of health and safety strategies in the schools, the impact of those strategies on their ability to provide for their children, or concerned about the overburden that mask mandates and social distancing will cause. When your child is forced to wear a mask in school 6 hours a day, sit alone in classrooms that smell like harsh chemicals, and try to adjust his or her schedule of on-and-off weeks to your own work schedule and find child care when you can’t, it’s enough to make parents try this “homeschooling” business.
Naturally, this has led to Montana school officials being concerned about state funding cuts as public school attendance dwindles, despite Governor Bullock’s announcement that he was providing districts with millions of dollars in COVID-19 relief funding.
At the rate which the public education system in Montana is going, from harsh restrictions put on children to ideological assaults like Drag queen story hour, an increase in homeschooling can only be a good thing.