Homeschooling gains remain even as pandemic wanes
North Star in Sunderland offers classes, social opportunities, help designing study plans, and other opportunities for homeschooled teenagers. It started this year with 45 members and got 15 new teens mid-year. The program is now being deluged with inquiries about the fall.
“A lot of teens were looking forward to going back to school in person, having not loved school at home,” said program director Loran Saito. “They made a good faith effort to make the most of it and just found that school was really restrictive or unmanageable or unpleasant in a variety of ways.” Facing academic pressures or social pressures or a loss of control over their time, teens sought alternatives.
“It seems like for a lot of youth, having more voice in their own education matters more than before,” Saito said.
Many students left school districts when the pandemic hit in March 2020, forcing schools to shut down. Most public schools stayed at least partly remote the following September as well.
That data showed that private and parochial school attendance, which had been declining for years pre-pandemic, increased slightly this year to 69,300 students in 2021-2022, compared to 67,900 last year, and 70,100 at the start of the last normal pre-pandemic year.
Homeschooling, where the numbers were consistently around 7,500 pre-pandemic, continues to boom. There were 13,090 students listed as homeschooling in 2021-2022, down from the more than 17,000 who homeschooled in 2020-2021 but still significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels.
Bill Heuer, executive director of the Massachusetts Home Learning Association, said he suspects the numbers are actually higher, since he has heard anecdotally of issues like people homeschooling in a community listed as having zero homeschoolers.
Betty Urzua is a homeschool consultant and the director of Pilgrims Progress Home School Association, a Christian cooperative that offers field trips, classes, and other resources for homeschooled children. She personally homeschooled her six children, three of whom are national champions in competitive roller skating. Homeschooling has long been an attractive option for competitive athletes, but she said interest in homeschooling is far broader today.
Urzua has heard from families who realized for the first time during the pandemic that they could homeschool, and therefore have more control over what children are learning. Often among the primarily Christian families she works with, Urzua said, “They don’t see the public school providing the values they want them to learn.” Some families seek her out because their child is getting bullied in school and they want a safer environment.
“I really do think [the pandemic] is changing the way education is provided,” Urzua said. “People’s eyes have been opened that there are more opportunities, so they’re investigating those opportunities.”
Biden is coming: Brayton Point in Somerset has been a bellwether for the nation’s fickle attitudes on energy. Its chief export has been electricity, but the fuel used to produce the power has changed with the times – from coal to oil, back to coal, and now offshore wind. President Biden is coming to Brayton Point to make an announcement about climate, and Rep. Patricia Haddad of Somerset said using her town as the backdrop for his message is huge. Read more.
Wait until next year? The MBTA is unlikely to resume normal subway service by Labor Day – and possibly not until next year – because of hiring and training constraints. T board member Travis McCready ran the numbers and predicted full service wouldn’t resume until 2023. No T official disagreed with him. Read more.
MBTA land deals: The MBTA board approves two land deals worth $100 million to position the transit authority’s vehicle maintenance efforts for the future. Read more.
Backroom deal: Bradley Campbell, president of the Conservation Law Foundation, says the House’s land grab for Bob Kraft in Everett is an example of what’s wrong with the Legislature’s end-of-session backroom deals. Read more.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
The special commission charged with reimagining the state seal balks at using a picture of a Wampanoag leader. (GBH)
Lawmakers move forward with plans to expand eligibility for ConnectorCare, state-subsidized health insurance. (Salem News)
Andover native Dan Koh, an aide to Marty Walsh when he was Boston mayor and then US Labor Secretary, takes a job at the White House as a deputy cabinet secretary. (Eagle-Tribune)
Massachusetts Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley and Katherine Clark are arrested by the US Capitol Police for blocking traffic outside the US Supreme Court as part of an abortion rights protest. (Boston Herald)
The US House passes a bill to federally protect same-sex and interracial marriage, with some bipartisan support, a response to perceived threats to same-sex marriage by the US Supreme Court. (Washington Post)
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem will campaign for former state Rep. Geoff Diehl, while New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu will stump for his primary opponent in the Republican gubernatorial race, Chris Doughty. (MassLive)
Dan Cox, a Trump loyalist, wins the GOP primary for governor in Maryland. (New York Times)
A new proposed state fund would aid commercial lobstermen who are adversely affected by regulations intended to protect whales. (Gloucester Daily Times)
A hearing officer for the Department of Environmental Protection says the state should reconsider the permit granted to the controversial Weymouth compressor station. (Patriot Ledger)
European nations are being urged to start rationing natural gas. (New York Times)
Superior Court Judge Jackie Cowin rules the courts can review decisions to extend parole by the state parole board. (GBH)
Few of the guns seized by the police after use in a crime in Massachusetts were sold by local licensed firearms dealers. (Salem News)PASSINGS
Raymond Champagne, who spent 41 years in prison before he was exonerated, died in a motorcycle accident 30 months after his release. “It just seems so unfair,” said Molly Baldwin, his wife and the founder of Chelsea-based Roca. (Boston Globe)