The pandemic has caused many to lose faith in government institutions–especially education. Now, more than ever, parents are looking for alternatives to the public education system.
Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
Connor: Hey, Brittany.
Brittany: Hey, Connor.
Connor: You know, COVID has generally been a big problem for a lot of people, certainly for those who have, you know, suffered and even died from COVID. But when we say we kind of blame things on COVID, but quite often it’s not COVID itself, it’s the government’s response to COVID, right? And that government response has created a lot of problems. I hink a lot of us are shocked that we’re entering, you know, or in the second year. And a lot of this madness is still having these lockdowns and mandates and everything else. But I like the positive angle that you and Emma took a few episodes ago where you talked about some of the good things that have happened over the last two years, and you talked, the both of you a lot about innovations, businesses quickly, you know, changing to adapt to the needs of their customers during quarantine. And even the topic that I wanted to talk a little bit more about with you today, is how this kind of COVID circumstance has helped a lot of parents realize just how messed up the education system is. And, you know, for me, with our work at Roberta’s Institute, one of the topics that our team works on is education reform. We try and change the laws so that families have more options rather than, you know, just government school. And so we’re always trying to figure out how we can get more support and how we can get these laws changed. And it’s been amazing that during all this COVID craziness support even across the country, has totally increased. Like heavily so among families who now increasingly support alternatives. Why? I think it’s because a lot of these families, right, like a year and a half ago, they were forced into homeschooling. Like all the schools shut down, right? And so parents are like, oh, I, gotta educate my own kids now. And I think a lot of parents I heard from a bunch who were like, well, wait a minute, my kid got all of their schoolwork, schoolwork done in two hours. So why do they sit in a classroom for like six hours if they can, you know, get it done faster, right? Or you had the families with like Zoom school when they started, a lot of schools started doing that, where you’d have parents who would observe, what their kids were actually learning and be very freaked out at like, wait a minute, like, you’re teaching my kid that, right? Or, you know.
Brittany: We talked about wokeness or woke being, you know, woken in another episode. It just kinda reminds me they didn’t realize how much the school was kind of acting as propaganda, you know, a machine with people just saying all these things. But yeah, can you imagine being a parent who didn’t know how crazy school was and then hearing it on Zoom, you’d be shocked.
Connor: I think a lot of people were shocked. I think a lot of parents saw with the Zoom classes that a lot of kids were, you know, bored, even depressed. It was kind of contrary to the way I feel like children really learn. And you can, don’t just sit there and like watching a computer screen that doesn’t, that’s not how, you know, kids are educated, frankly. Even adults are educated very well.
Brittany: No, especially what really made me sad is I had a friend whose child started kindergarten, so they’re very, you know, very young first level right? Of going, cause there’s no pre-k mandated quite yet, right? But she was so posting pictures of her son just bawling because he had been so excited to go to school and learn, you know, were taught like, oh, you’re starting school. You’re such a big kid, you get to go learn. And instead he was bawling in front of his computer all day because how do you make a five-year-old, right? Sit in front of a computer and listen to a teacher talk about like, drawing, like here’s an art project that you can’t do cuz you’re sitting in behind your desk at home, or it just, or here’s, you know, it just, it made me so mad and so sad to see these kids so sad and there was nothing you could do about it. Cause it’s still government, compulsory school, meaning you still have to go.
Connor: I feel like one problem is, I, think of it like kids who grew up on a certain diet, let’s say even just an American diet. They’re eating PB and J sandwiches and spaghetti, although I guess that’s Italian, but whatever, right? they have kinda like, they’re basic meals every day, right? And then they go on this foreign adventure, let’s say to, you know, Asian countries or European countries or wherever, and there’s all these different foods, right? And they have funny names and ingredients you can’t even pronounce. And so what would be the natural reaction of most kids when placed in that circumstance? They would not want that food. It’s foreign to them. They probably think it would taste gross. That’s kinda the natural, you know, I think, theory that a child might have and they want kind of the safety, and the comfort of the world that they know the limited ingredients set and type of foods that they’re accustomed to. And yet, if you somehow got those kids to try these different meals, chances are they’d really like a lot of them, and I talk about this with my kids, it’s like, you know, initially we might bring up, Hey, let’s go on this adventure, let’s do this idea. And sometimes we’ll meet with resistance. Oh no, it’ll be scary, or it’ll be blah, blah blah. Right? And they have these ideas.
Brittany: When I do that as an adult.
Connor: Exactly. Right. Okay, so this is for an episode for Brittany here, So, you know, and but then it’s like, well wait a minute. Like we don’t actually know what it’s gonna be like. Let’s go experience it. Let’s have a sense of adventure. And chances are, you know, it might be okay. It’s like Brittany when you had to go hiking the other day, right? Wasn’t that one?
Brittany: So you saw my Instagram.
Connor: Saw your Instagram.
Brittany: No, no.
Connor: But so with my kids, oftentimes at the end, you know, they will initially have resisted an idea, but then they love it. And I feel like it would be the same thing with kids with my example of like going to a foreign adventure and trying a new food. Okay, why am I saying all of this? It’s because I know so many families over the years where the parents have been like, eh, homeschooling isn’t for us, or.
Brittany: Homeschool kids are weird or it doesn’t work.
Connor: Yeah, yeah. Or I could never do that, or my kids wouldn’t enjoy it. You know, they, they really, you know, prefer to be in school. And so than the schools, you know, shut down kind of force parents to finally make this step, right? Or kind of figure out alternatives. Maybe it was homeschool, a lot of ’em, you know, went to private school, they figured stuff like that out. We had pandemic pods homeschool, co-ops, and tutors. Yeah. Right. Online education, all these different things. And so parents were kind of put in the circumstance like, you know, you were, when hiking or my kids are when doing some of these activities, it’s like, no, let’s just go do this. And look, it doesn’t mean that everything was perfect, doesn’t mean that everyone loved it. And yet there were so many that did because they were kind of pushed into like, Hey, let’s actually have you try this out and figure it out. And now that you are, a lot of you are gonna stick with it. A lot of you’re gonna like it. And so I feel like the biggest disruption or the biggest change was for a lot of the parents who were like, well wait a minute, we actually kinda like, you know, this new, you know, experience and we like that we can control what our kids learn and we can have more of a say and all that kind of stuff. So I feel like that was a big element, was kind of giving this a lot of the parents a nudge to try something new.
Brittany: Yeah. I think another thing it really brought to light too is, and we’ve talked about teacher’s unions before, how bad teacher’s unions are. And I don’t wanna say all teachers are bad. There are very good teachers out there. John Taylor Gatto, who we’ve talked about, will do a whole episode on this eventually he was a public school teacher until he resigned. And he is a hero to both you and I. So they’re great teachers out there, but teachers unions, as a whole are not good. I don’t really have anything nice to say about teachers unions. No, but I think one thing that’s really shed light on or really exposed to parents is how selfish these teacher’s unions were. You know, it wasn’t about getting back into the schools, even though people realized that Zoom learning was not in the kids’ best interests, that kids were getting very sad, they were getting bored. They were just very unhappy doing this. The teachers were not anxious to get back in the classrooms. You know, kids aren’t getting COVID like adults are. And then they made this big fuss of, you know, we’re not going back in the classrooms until you mandate masks until you do all this. But in my opinion, putting a child in a mask all day is almost as bad as making them sit in front of a Zoom computer all day. You know, they’re both forms of prison, to be honest with you. And so I think a lot of, during the pandemic, we saw a lot of teachers being outrageous and being very selfish. And I think that shed light to parents like, okay, this is what’s really going on here. I think we’ve talked about this before, but my friend Corey, I always say his last name, Corey DeAngelis, I think as how say it, yep. He is great. He talks about teacher’s unions all the time, but he also does a lot with school choice. And I, believe he’s written, and he is talked very publicly about how the pandemic really helped parents talk about school choice. Cuz it wasn’t even just about maybe we’ll homeschool permanently, it was also about, oh, maybe we’re gonna find a charter school or a public school that isn’t making my kids’ mask. Oh, maybe we’re gonna find a school that isn’t being so rigid on, you know, social distancing six feet. I don’t know if you’ve seen those pictures, Connor, of the kids eating in the cafeteria and it’s like one kid per table. Oh, yeah. And it’s depressing. Again, it looks like pictures of prison years ago, this libertarian guy who kinda went a little crazy, so I won’t say his name. He did a fun segment on his show called Prison or School. And he did like side by side, like, okay, you only get 15 minutes of outdoor time a day. Is it prison or is it school? And it ended up being school most of the time, or both, but, or both. Yeah. And that’s what that picture reminded me of the kids just lonely and in masks and sitting there. So I think it won, it shut a lot of light on how bad schools already were, how selfish the teacher’s unions were, and how much we need school choice. So I think those were good aspects to the pandemic.
Connor: And I feel like when there’s a problem, that’s when you get innovation, right? Because innovators and entrepreneurs, they’re always trying to solve problems. And so here you have this problem of, you know, kids can’t go to school, or if they can’t go to school, they have to wear masks and all these kinds of crazy policies. And so parents are looking for alternatives. And so when there are customers out there saying, raising their hand, if you will, and like, I need help. I need alternatives. That’s when creative people get to work. And so you had, I mentioned the term earlier, but this concept of pandemic pods. Yes. You know, and it’s really basically like a micro-school, which is like, Hey, I’m a, you know, I’m a tutor or I’m a, you know, mom who can throw this together and we’re gonna do a little like one-room school, you know, a situation where we’ll educate a bunch of kids together and turn it into a little, you know, business even, And so you had all these little pop-up businesses, these little pop-up pandemic pods where people were figuring it out, the homeschool co-op that my kids were in tons of interest, right? Because they’re like, we’re not requiring masks and we have all this flexibility and kids love it, come check it out. And so there’s a big waitlist, you know, of families wanting to get in. And so all these like little innovations and different opportunities really start rising to the top. You have a great, company called Prenda, which doesn’t operate in every state, but they’re, they kind of use the micro-school concept too. So a lot of these little innovations that can really try and come out of this big problem, because on the other hand, like we’ve talked before about how government schools are a monopoly, in effect not a total monopoly because you can homeschool or you can go to private school, but because of compulsory education laws they basically have a monopoly of our taxpayer dollars. And so when you have a monopoly, we know that prices go up like the cost of something goes up and the quality goes down. And it’s that way with government education over and over and over again. Costs continue to go up for taxpayers, but the quality goes down. Like when you look at high school seniors, you know, you ask them basic questions or look at their tests and stuff, they’re horrible. I mean, they’re totally horrible. College professors over and over again have to do what’s called remedial education, which basically just means teaching high school stuff in college to high school graduates because they didn’t learn it well enough in high school. So they have to teach them again in college. And so it’s like, well, wait a minute, taxpayers are paying all this money for kids to learn all this stuff and they’re not actually learning it and they’re not doing well. And so, you have these problems where in a monopoly, the cost goes up and the quality goes down. And who is defending the monopoly? It’s, you pointed out earlier, Brittany, it’s the teacher’s unions who aren’t there to represent the kids. They’re not there looking out for the kids’ best interests. They’re looking out for the teachers and protecting their jobs and doing whatever’s gonna benefit them to get them paid more. Even though paying teachers more doesn’t really, I mean, you look at the data, Corey, who you mentioned shares this data all the time, you know, just because you throw more money at government schools, it doesn’t make the outcomes better. It doesn’t make teachers teach better, it doesn’t help kids learn better. And so it’s always this, oh, schools need more money. It’s like, well no, like, you know, I homeschool my kids or they’re in a co-op, or we got this private school or whatever. And the education of the children is way better, even though it takes way less money than government schools. And yet during COVID, you’ve seen the teacher’s unions really try and go to the government for even more money. Yeah. Ridiculous grant money on it. And it’s like, well, wait a minute, that’s not gonna solve the problem.
Brittany: No, I think you’re absolutely right. But, again, I love that you brought up that the best innovations have happened because people have been trying to solve a problem. And so I think right now we’re at the stage where it’s kind of chaos and people are saying, all right, there’s a problem. I know there’s a lot of parents still fighting back against masks. In fact, I guess there was one guy, you’ll appreciate this Connor, who showed up to a teacher, like a parent-teacher meeting in a bee suit cuz he was trying to make a point against masks. But I thought when I saw the bee suit, I thought of you are a Beekeeper.
Connor: Oh, like he was in a beekeeper suit.
Brittany: He was in a beekeeper suit.
Connor: And I think he was in like a Halloween costume.
No. You know what? Correct. That was a weird way to describe that. Yes. A beekeeper suits all but it’s just, it’s funny cuz I’m enjoying seeing the parents getting really involved. And I’m not a parent obviously, but I do like seeing the, the shaking up part, right, where people are saying, okay, something isn’t right. Now it’s time to do something about it. And so I think obviously the pandemic has been terrible for many reasons, but I do think this is one reason to kind of look back and say, okay, some good things are coming out of this. We’re realizing there is a major problem.
Connor: It’s an important mindset too because even when the world is crazy and things are horrible and all these problems are happening, there’s always opportunities. It’s kinda like the silver lining and the dark cloud is one way of saying it, right? When we are confronted with these things, it’s like, oh, what was me? And schools are shut down and they’re requiring masks. Well, it’s like, okay, but what opportunities is this creating? Maybe there’s something better here. And so if we can have a positive mindset and say, how can we turn this bad experience into a good outcome? Chances are there are good outcomes, right? You just have to find them or kind of think through what your opportunities are. And I know so many families now who have made the decision to do something different, right? For their kids, rather than the government schools. And they’re very happy. You know, it’s not for everyone. I mean, I know a lot of families feel like, you know, government schools are for them for whatever reason. And I can respect that decision even though I don’t wanna have to be the one to pay for it. But, I know a lot of families who are, are very happy. And so for me, the big lesson here is, you know, even with COVID craziness, it’s really accelerated education reform. It’s shown a lot of families that there’s a lot of options out there. In fact, we talk about the importance of the way we really learn in the Tuttle Twins and the education vacation because, you know, so often in government schooling especially, it doesn’t really honor our individuality. It doesn’t let kids focus on their interests. And so it’s been a great opportunity with all the COVID craziness to help a lot of parents say, maybe there’s an opportunity here for you to figure out something different. And so if you guys haven’t read that poking a while or read it at all, go check it out. And you know, you mentioned John Taylor Gatto, who’s got a great book called Dumbing Us Down The Hidden Compulsory, hidden Agenda of Compulsory Education, I think is what it’s called. We’ll link to it on the show notes page along with our education vacation book I mentioned Tuttletwins.com/podcast. And if you guys have made a change, we’d love to hear about it. Reach out to us on social media, and share your story because there’s so many stories out there that have been amazing about families who’ve made changes and are really thriving and doing better. So we’d love to hear ’em. Thanks for listening to the podcast, Brittany, great talking to you as always. And until next time, we’ll talk to you later.
Brittany: Talk to you later.