NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Thursday, April 16. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Here’s WORLD commentator Cal Thomas on a potential silver lining in the coronavirus cloud.
CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced public schools will be closed for the rest of the academic year due to the coronavirus. It’s increasingly likely that most mayors and governors will likely make similar announcements.
Rather than look upon this as a negative, I suspect some parents are enjoying new relationships with their children that full-time work and day care did not allow. This new bonding experience could lead some to continue home education once schools reopen.
At a recent coronavirus White House briefing, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said—quote— “Distance learning is happening. States like New Hampshire and Florida have implemented phased and tiered approaches to meet the needs of students in their states. Other schools and states are implementing creative approaches and working through practical realities to help students continue learning.” End quote.
DeVos cited “remote Colorado mountain towns without internet connectivity,” where teachers are putting weekly learning packets together. They’re also holding office hours by phone to help students who feel stuck.
She also noted South Carolina is deploying 3,000 buses with mobile Wi-Fi hotspots to help kids in remote areas.
This means schools are supporting parents, rather than the other way around.
Even before the current crisis, concerns about what is taught in public schools—from sex education to their failure to uphold moral and spiritual principles—have already made homeschooling attractive to growing numbers of parents.
The National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) reports, “There are about 2.5 million home school students in grades K-12 in the United States…It appears that the home school population is continuing to grow (at an estimated 2 percent to 8 percent per annum over the past few years).”
The research institute found other nations are experiencing homeschooling increases, too—including Australia, Canada, Japan, Kenya, Russia, Mexico, South Korea, and Thailand. It says home education cuts across virtually all demographic lines and not just conservative Christians. These include, “libertarians, and liberals; low, middle, and high-income families; black, Hispanic, and white.”
The first public school in what was to become the United States was established 385 years ago this month. A Puritan settler named Philemon Pormont founded it. Pormont saw instilling religion and the Bible as essential to a well-rounded education. That was true until the 20th century, when courts outlawed collective prayer and Bible reading.
For parents who have been looking for other options and afraid to take the plunge, perhaps the coronavirus might turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
I’m Cal Thomas.