Have the teachers unions cut their own throats? Homeschooling interest surges amid COVID shutdowns

After getting the schools shut down -- completely down in some places -- due to the COVID pandemic in favor of online learning, the teachers unions are now in for a surprise:

Google search interest for "homeschooling" has rocketed to its highest level in half a decade, a sign of potentially renewed interest in alternative education as more U.S. school districts decide not to fully reopen in the fall amid the coronavirus.

A growing number of school officials across the country have announced plans to indefinitely delay re-opening their school districts next month, amid a spike in confirmed cases and related fears their schools could become hotspots for more outbreaks. 

That's the report from John Solomon's Just The News, which did a full search of the history of Google searches for 'homeschooling' checking its ups and downs over the months and finding a sudden surge. That's likely a good indicator of parents seeking take the plunge into full-blown homeschooling now that the teachers unions don't seem to want the job. As Solomon notes, there is very little risk in spreading the COVID disease from children, and schools have safely reopened in Asia and Europe with no bad results, yet the teachers seem to exempt themselves from the same risks grocery store workers, nurses, and other essential people take every day of this pandemic, taking their precautions.

And it makes sense. Rather than have children, including small children, staring at a computer screen with Zoom squares all day for their daily lessons from teachers with zero experience in effectively teaching online learning, they can have in-person schooling from their own parents, often with professional homeschooling kits and programs, as well as a community of other parents and kids in the same boat. It's been done very effectively for years by some, and now with kids now facing a third-world style schooling experience, with basically no school at all, no teachers to study their reactions in classrooms to see if they are getting it, and mentor them and take an interest in them, as well as no friends to socialize with, it's not surprising that parents are now looking at this alternative. It takes a lot to effectively teach online learning, which can be done, ideally with older kids, but it's still no substitute for an in-person experience.

As long as kids are going to be forced to stay home, why have a bad experience instead of a good one? Homeschooling has regularly been shown to produce top results for kids, making them academically ready for top colleges. Ask any university admissions officer how well the home-schooled applicants do - and the answer you'll get is that they are overrepresented in the top schools because of the broad pattern seen in their academic achievements. 

It's as if the teachers' unions, at bloated school districts such as Los Angeles County, where very little learning takes place anyway, are now about to realize that parents and kids don't need them if they can't bring themselves to teach kids as they always have done -- even under COVID-style socially distancing with outdoor instruction, if possible. You can bet they'll try to stop this trend, but the genie is out of the bottle.

The demise of the public school systems as they've made themselves now, is part of the bursting of the academic bubble, described by Glenn Reynolds in his excellent book "The New School." Leave it up to the overreach of the teachers unions to hasten it, and sure enough, hasten their own demise.

Image credit: William Murphy, via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

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