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Rise in Homeschooling for Wisconsin

Children home-schooled in the state of Wisconsin saw its largest increase since 1984 compared to the 2020-21 school year suggesting that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our school systems.

Home-schooled children only accounted for 2.2% of all students before the pandemic hit during the 2019-20 school year. This number has increased to 3.25% in this last year alone. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction shows an enrollment of 31,878 children for the 2020-21 school year. 

The GazetteXtra newspaper shows that the number of enrollment for home-schooled children has jumped to 47%. Virtual learning and parents home-schooling their children became more common within the state in the last year. 

Missie Crisp, who is an administrator of the Facebook support group Homeschoolers of Western Wisconsin and a board member of Eau Claire Virtual School talks positively about the wide range of new schooling options the pandemic has brought on. With these unprecedented times also comes a variety of options available for students, parents and teachers to help ease the transition of this new lifestyle.

Sources from the GazetteXtra quotes Crisp who said “home-schooling has had an interesting stigma/stereotype. It’s been kind of bittersweet over the past year and a half to see how a virus has suddenly made homeschooling more accessible and acceptable to many.”

`The Rev. Joshua D. Andrew, a home-schooling father in Eau Claire with a Ph.D. in education, believes there are multiple factors on why a parent enrolls their child into a homeschooling system. Even before the pandemic, parents found the homeschooling system more effective than the public school system. Andrews believes that parents pull their children out of a public school system due to a flawed, outdated system. Another factor parents are motivated by are political or religious agendas. Parents chose to educate their children based on their own set of principles and values. Lastly Andrew states that there has been a new wave of emergence in the homeschooling community because of the challenges brought on by the contagious COVID-19 virus.

“These parents disdain the public-school environment due to safety reasons, such as school violence, bullying or the recent COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. Other factors such as a child’s special needs and individualized education programs show home schooling as a beneficial accommodation for students.

With a flexible agenda, parents with children who have disabilities find that home schooling is advantageous to their child’s own needs. 

Peg Linge, another member of the Western Wisconsin Homeschooling Support Group and mother to a son with multiple disabilities including ADHD and dyslexia among others, talks about the positive outcomes home schooling has had on her son. 

“I decided to take on my son’s education to free him from the confines of public school,’’ Linge said. “He may not have been able to recite multiplication facts, but he can cook a stunning roast.”

Eau Claire mothers believe that a learn-from-home format can help students succeed in such uncertain times. 

Of course, there are parents who are still unsure of the homeschooling route and for this Homeschoolers of Western Wisconsin support group advise parents to “trust their instincts.”

In accordance with parents who are unsure about enrolling their child in a home schooling system, state policies and law advocate for schools to stay open. These policies are strongly discouraging as well as restricting remote learning. A common concern being that students will fall behind with such abrupt changes and disruptions that we’ve seen happen over the course of the pandemic.

A school board from Ben’s district in Union County, outside Charlotte came to a vote last week that students who were quarantined can return back to in person classes as long as they are not known to have any symptoms or be infected with the virus. The decision caused an uproar when the state’s top health official threatened legal action unless they followed stricter guidelines and protocols.

Union County is just one of many school districts that are not offering virtual instructions along with having an optional mask mandate. The We Are Green Bay website reports that one in six students from the county have been quarantined as of last week. In accommodation the schools help students and parents line up tutors to help guide them through the transition.

Comparing data with other states, a rural school district in Kansas had given a week off to its students due to an outbreak. The school district decided to add 10 minutes to each day to make up for lost time as well as enforcing a mask requirement. 

The U.S. Education Department made a statement on Tuesday saying that states and school districts have policies set to ensure that “high-quality and rigorous learning” is accessible to all students.

The Illinois State Board of Education just passed a policy that enforces school districts to make remote learning available to quarantined students. Parents are left to decide between the various learning options available for their children as the state’s transmission of the virus remains at a high level.

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