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Is it Time to Bring Kids Home?

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A parent took to Twitter to share an experience she recently had:

My daughter turned around yesterday to grab her charger and her teacher immediately snapped and said she needed to be facing forward at all times. I said, “Go ahead, let the computer die!” in the background and the teacher quickly apologized. Didn’t realize I sit through every class!

Another parent responded saying, “Zoom school is really showing how much of American education is just about controlling and punishing children and not actually, you know, teaching and educating them.”

We used this series of tweets in one of our social media posts and a parent shared her opinion that, “The mass exodus of kids from government schools to unschool is an unintended consequence of media fear hype over the virus. Now there are going to be free thinking kids with an actual education who are not indoctrinated in socialist political views of liberal teachers and the establishment is terrified!”

I don’t know that I think the public-education-powers-that-be are terrified of parents choosing education freedom—they seem too arrogant for that—but I do think it’s true that parents are opting out of this en masse. The data has certainly shown a trend toward parents making the decision to homeschool permanently as a result of lockdowns and virtual learning requirements. I suspect that this trend will only continue as the months wear on and parents have more and more experiences like the woman in the tweet.

Obviously, not everyone can—or wants to—homeschool their children. I get it. I myself am a product of public schools, and I suppose that’s evidence that kids can still turn out okay after getting off the conveyor belt.

But it’s especially important for public school parents to be wide-eyed and aware about the problems their children will experience and the forces at play in the system they are a part of.

Some schools—apparently unhappy with parents knowing what is going on in classrooms and then sharing their experiences on social media—have made parents sign forms agreeing to not monitor their kids online classes. This article is just one example of many which lay out the supposed reasoning.

Officials at all county schools are asking parents to sign forms agreeing not to watch these virtual classes.

The Tennessee Star received a copy of such a form this week.

“RCS strives to present these opportunities in a secure format that protects student privacy to the greatest extent possible, however because these meetings will occur virtually RCS is limited in its ability to fully control certain factors such as non-student observers that may be present in the home of a student participating in the virtual meeting,” according to the form.

“RCS strongly discourages non student observation of online meetings due to the potential of confidential information about a student being revealed.”

The form asks parents for their signature and warns that “violation of this agreement may result in RCS removing my child from the virtual meeting.”

Would you sign the form? I’m pretty sure this would have been the proverbial straw for me if my kids were in public school.

The article also includes a super creepy tidbit at the end about $1 million in funds set aside for COVID relief that will be used to support well-being checks on kids since they will be out of school for so long. Yikes.

A lot of parents and good teachers have, for a long time now, been concerned that the public education system seems to place their role as child-rearer above that of parents. John Taylor Gatto once said,

Government schooling is the most radical adventure in history. It kills the family by monopolizing the best times of childhood and by teaching disrespect for home and parents.

I remember the first time I read that quote—it hit me like a bolt of lightning. It changed my life.

Knowing that a well-respected, award-winning public school teacher of thirty years would make this statement woke me up to how awful a situation our country was in.

Naturally, when I decided to tackle education in The Tuttle Twins and the Education Vacation I chose to base it on Gatto’s The Underground History of American Education, and feature him as a main character. Who better to teach the Tuttle family about compulsory education’s problematic past or its founders’ vision for the future than the guy who literally wrote the book on it?

I know a lot of parents are kind of reeling still because of all the ways government overreach has upended their lives. For a lot of us, seeing the things that schools are doing right now isn’t really a surprise—although I’ll admit that even I’m a little shocked at how brazen they are—as much as it’s a confirmation of things that we already knew (or suspected) were happening. Now that it’s happening live, via Zoom, and in front of parents, a lot of people are waking up.

Turns out it wasn’t just the crazy homeschool moms and conspiracy theorists talking about schools abusing their power—now the general public is realizing that it’s happening. I was shocked to see comments on the article about the school in Tennessee.

A guy named Kaleb C said, “I think parents should check on their kid once in awhile to see how they are doing, but I don’t think the parents should watch them the whole class or the whole period,” and another person said, “I agree, and with the parents staying in the entire period/class, they could give the kid answers or help they don’t need, having their child learn nothing.”

Wait, what?

Maybe not everyone is waking up—most adults are a product of this system and it’s super hard to break away from the indoctrination they were fed through all of their youth and childhood. Still, I know that there are tons of people who are seeing clearly for the first time—and that’s really encouraging.

Everyday I get text messages and emails from parents telling me that they are new homeschool families and they love it so much they can’t imagine ever going back to the way things were before. I love getting messages like that.

I think if there was one piece of encouragement I’d give to families who are on the fence about homeschool, or who are struggling with this dystopian “new normal” it would be this:

It doesn’t matter what you think your abilities are (or aren’t) so stop worrying about that. You are qualified to teach your kids, and not only that, but you are the most qualified to teach your kids. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true. No one knows them like you do. No one understands their strengths and weaknesses like you do. It’s okay to trust your gut on this and do what you feel led to do, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Of course there are things that you aren’t awesome at—that’s why there’s the internet. Viola! Problem solved.

There are practically unlimited resources for homeschool families these days. You don’t have to have a ton of time or a ton of money to homeschool your kids anymore—many companies offer free, or really inexpensive resources that you can weave into your curriculum. Even we’ve got an economics curriculum that provides weekly, age-specific lessons for everyone in your family for only $7.99/mo.

Really all it takes to homeschool your kids is patience and an internet connection. And probably some snacks—homeschoolers are really big on snacking. 🙂

Maybe everything is a total wreck right now. We’ve certainly seen what damage can be done when governments are allowed to run amok—using fear to manipulate people into submission as they implement their pet projects and advance their agendas. But our homes and families don’t have to be a wreck. In fact, they can even be a haven—a shelter from the insanity swirling all around us—if we put our focus on the things that really matter.

I don’t know about you, but I find myself caring less and less about whether or not my kids obey power-hungry adults in positions of “authority,” and more and more about building the bonds within our family and teaching them to trust their own abilities and their own instincts.

I’ll close with another quote by Gatto from his 1991 book, Dumbing Us Down. I think it’s one of the most prophetic things he said:

“If we use schooling to break children away from parents—and make no mistake, that has been the central function of schools since John Cotton announced it as the purpose of the Bay Colony schools in 1650 and Horace Mann announced it as the purpose of Massachusetts schools in 1850—we’re going to continue to have the horror show we have right now.”

Horror show, indeed, Mr. Gatto.

I think it’s time to opt out. I think it’s time to bring kids home.

For those who can’t, God speed—we’re with you, and here to help you counteract what your kids will be taught (things like the greatness of government, the beauty of socialism, the horrible racism that undermines everything the Founding Fathers did, etc.)

Parents who can accommodate homeschooling should give it serious consideration, especially these days. Those who can’t, deserve our strongest support. Let’s do what’s right by our children, come what may.

— Connor

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Textbooks don't teach this; schools don't mention it.

It's up to you—and our books can help. Check out the Tuttle Twins books to see if they're a fit for your family!

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