COVID-19 and the Future of Educational Freedom - The Objective Standard

Editor’s note: TOS does not endorse the author’s views on “unschooling.” For an enlightening exchange on that subject, see Lisa VanDamme’s reply to a letter in the Spring 2008 issue of The Objective Standard.

It is an odd juxtaposition that at a time when families are isolated in their homes, lacking the freedom to go about the ordinary routines of life, many are experiencing greater educational freedom. As cities shelve compulsory attendance mandates, curriculum directives, and annual testing requirements, parents are catching a glimpse of education without forced schooling.1 They are leveraging a multitude of online learning resources and spotting the ways in which their child’s creativity and curiosity rebound when allowed to explore more individualized curricula.2 Many parents are seeing that their children are happier, more focused, and more imaginative when not required to spend their days attending traditional school, and some of these parents may want to continue supporting their child’s learning at home post-pandemic.3 In this period of confinement and social distancing, families are discovering the expansive education opportunities outside of conventional classrooms. . . .

Endnotes

1. Joshua Rose, “Wisconsin Schools Won’t Have to Make up Lost Time Due to Coronavirus,” We Are Green Bay, March 16, 2020, https://www.wearegreenbay.com/coronavirus/wisconsin-schools-wont-have-to-make-up-lost-time-due-to-coronavirus/; Tawnell D. Hobbs, “At Schools Closed for Coronavirus, Online Work Won’t Count,” Wall Street Journal, March 19, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/schools-closed-for-coronavirus-online-work-wont-count-11584643049; Evie Blad, “Devos Announces Broad Waivers from Federal Testing Requirements as Schools Close for Coronavirus,” Education Week, March 20, 2020, http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2020/03/devos-testing-waiver-states-coronavirus.html.

2. Kerry McDonald, “Free, Online Learning Resources When Coronavirus Closes Schools,” Cato Institute, March 13, 2020, https://www.cato.org/blog/free-online-learning-resources-when-coronavirus-closes-schools.

3. Kerry McDonald, “Yale Study: Vast Majority of High Schoolers Unhappy at School,” Foundation for Economic Education, February 10, 2020, https://fee.org/articles/yale-study-vast-majority-of-high-schoolers-unhappy-at-school/.

4. Valerie Strauss, “Schools of More Than 90 Percent of the World’s Students Closed during This Pandemic,” Washington Post, March 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2020/03/26/nearly-14-billion-children-around-globe-are-out-school-heres-what-countries-are-doing-keep-kids-learning-during-pandemic/.

5. Chris Weller, “Homeschooling Could Be the Smartest Way to Teach Kids in the 21st Century—Here Are 5 Reasons Why,” Business Insider, January 21, 2018, https://www.businessinsider.com/reasons-homeschooling-is-the-smartest-way-to-teach-kids-today-2018-1.

6. Kerry McDonald, “Homeschooling and Educational Freedom: Why School Choice Is Good for Homeschoolers,” Cato Institute, September 4, 2019, https://www.cato.org/publications/briefing-paper/homeschooling-educational-freedom-why-school-choice-good-homeschoolers.

7. Linda Pearlstein, “Why Urban, Educated Parents Are Turning to DIY Education,” Newsweek, January 30, 2012, https://www.newsweek.com/why-urban-educated-parents-are-turning-diy-education-64349.

8. Sarah Grady, “A Fresh Look at Homeschooling in the U.S.,” National Center for Education Statistics, September 26, 2017, https://nces.ed.gov/blogs/nces/post/a-fresh-look-at-homeschooling-in-the-u-s.

9. Erica L. Green and Dana Goldstein, “Reading Scores on National Exam Decline in Half the States,” New York Times, October 30, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/30/us/reading-scores-national-exam.html; Kevin Mahnken, “NAEP Social Studies Scores Show a Downturn in Geography, U.S. History. But Are the Headlines ‘Hyped’?,” 74 Million, May 3, 2020, https://www.the74million.org/naep-social-studies-scores-show-a-downturn-in-geography-u-s-history-but-are-the-headlines-hyped/.

10. Brian D. Ray, “A Systematic Review of the Empirical Research on Selected Aspects of Homeschooling as a School Choice,” Journal of School Choice, vol. 11, no. 4, November 27, 2017, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15582159.2017.1395638.

11. Daniel Hamlin, “Do Homeschooled Students Lack Opportunities to Acquire Cultural Capital? Evidence from a Nationally Representative Survey of American Households,” Peabody Journal of Education 94, no. 3 (June 4, 2019), https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0161956X.2019.1617582.

12. Kerry McDonald, “Back-to-School Alternatives,” Forbes, August 27, 2019, https://www.forbes.com/sites/kerrymcdonald/2019/08/27/back-to-school-alternatives/#5298572862d7; Kerry McDonald, “Micro-School Network Expands Learning Options,” Forbes, October 21, 2019, https://www.forbes.com/sites/kerrymcdonald/2019/10/21/micro-school-network-expands-learning-options/#20ca050a1e4e; Kerry McDonald, “Teachers Who Quit to Create Schooling Alternatives,” Forbes, October 7, 2019, https://www.forbes.com/sites/kerrymcdonald/2019/10/07/teachers-who-quit-to-create-schooling-alternatives/#1b0b3f7b7a9c.

13. Paula Diperna, “Polling American K–12 School Parents about COVID-19,” Engage by EdChoice, April 21, 2020, https://www.edchoice.org/engage/polling-american-k-12-school-parents-about-covid-19/.

14. Erin O’Donnell, “The Risks of Homeschooling,” Harvard Magazine, May–June 2020, https://harvardmagazine.com/2020/05/right-now-risks-homeschooling; Jessica Huseman, “Homeschooling Regulations by State,” ProPublica, August, 27, 2015, https://projects.propublica.org/graphics/homeschool.

15. Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged (New York: Signet, 1959), 730.

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