Homeschooling families like mine aren’t as rare as we were just a few pandemic-free years ago. A recent Associated Press article by David Crary reported that according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of homeschooling families more than doubled between March and September of 2020. Apparently, the vagaries of lockdown fever and the failures of “remote learning” have inspired many parents to reclaim their children’s minds and souls from the state.
We have experienced the shift in thinking in a personal way. After years of unabashedly voicing their concerns about our kids’ homeschool education, our extended family has been curiously (and blessedly) silent ever since COVID-19 started wreaking havoc on our educational infrastructure. For once, we are ahead of the curve, and it is thrilling.
Crary notes the motives for embracing homeschooling vary from family to family. For my wife and I, both veteran teachers of an award-winning K-12 classical charter school, it was a desire to fully integrate our Catholic faith into our children’s educations.
Other reasons cited by Crary include parents having students with special educational needs and the “flaws” in local schools. He never expands on these “flaws,” but one of them has become obvious over the past several months: the efforts to use public school curricula to promote critical race theory (CRT).
The War for Our Children’s Minds and Hearts
A funny thing happened when students began remote learning during lockdown: parents started paying attention to what their kids were being taught. Many were not pleased with what they discovered. They felt betrayed by the system to which they had entrusted their kids and their money. Quite a few are fighting back, much to the chagrin of teachers’ unions, administrators and their political allies.
One flashpoint of this war has been Loudoun County, Virginia, a place known for being incredibly prosperous and increasingly Democrat. Yet since May, this Democrat stronghold has been wracked by conflict over critical race theory curricula and an “equity plan” the Loudoun County School Board proposed in October that would silence teachers’ speech even outside the classroom. The school board’s reaction, played out on national television, has been predictable: utter disdain for those who dare to disagree with them.
Loudoun County parents seem to be gaining ground; the battle has progressed to the point opponents are within striking distance of being able to recall several members of the school board. The efforts of these citizens (especially through the yeoman’s work of Fight for Schools, a non-partisan political action committee headed by a Loudoun County parent) have inspired other similar skirmishes in school districts throughout the country.
A ‘Scorched Earth’ Strategy
While I applaud the zeal of these parents fighting this poisonous ideology, I question the wisdom of their efforts to reform the educational system that has betrayed them. CRT did not simply materialize from thin air; it is simply another facet of the left’s decades-long domination of the educational system, as shown by the works of teacher whistleblowers like John Taylor Gatto.
CRT is already entrenched in our country’s university system and proponents of the movement show no sign of willingness to rethink their approach just because parents object to their ideology. Even if parents in Loudoun County and elsewhere are successful in eliminating official CRT policies, teachers immersed in it (like this one) will likely continue the war “guerrilla-style.” Some states are moving to ban CRT from public schools, but the potential legal challenges to these efforts from well-funded teachers’ unions and districts will likely take years to work out.
The ultimate goal for CRT advocates is to tear down the so-called “racist” foundations of American society and replace them completely Sadly, I think the same needs to happen to our current public educational system.
The only way to slay this particular dragon is to starve it by refusing it access to its favorite food: our children. Without students to indoctrinate (and the money that comes with them), public school districts might be forced to reconsider not only their devotion to CRT, but other aspects of their opposition to actual learning as well.
August 15 is the last day for Loudoun County parents to file a Notice of Intent with the school district that they plan to homeschool their kids. Last July, the number of these letters more than doubled since the previous year. Neighboring Fairfax County saw an extra 1,000 students switch to homeschooling.
Hopefully this year’s “summer of discontent” will inspire even more families to implement this “nuclear option” and thus begin the starvation process. In this game that is not a game, the only winning move is not to play.