Home schooling moves from fringe to preferred option

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Most students, teachers and parents are overjoyed to see kids back in class, and all the people who made sure education continued during the pandemic deserve our gratitude and utmost respect.

The fact that Nebraskans were forced to home school for a time, however, is remarkable to those of us who have observed educational controversies over the years.

A few decades ago, in fact, proponents of a type of homeschooling found themselves in jail.

Nebraska doesnít have a home school law, but allows homeschooling to take place under private school exemptions hammered out in response to the Christian school movement of the 1970s and early 1980s.

Rebelling against state certification requirements, the Rev. Everett Sileven and a number of his parishioners spent a total of three months in jail, until the state decided to allow parents with religious objections to state educational standards to send their kids to private schools that did not meet state accreditation and approval. Later rulings led the state to stop requiring testing or home visits.

Thanks to the pandemic, all families were forced to try homeschooling, and many are seeing it as a viable option.

The Nebraska Department of Education has received more than 13,000 filings this year for home school students, a 56% increase over last year.

More resources than ever are available for families that choose to home school, and combine that with COVID-19 concerns, itís no wonder that the idea has taken off.

Home school organizations are scrambling to keep up with demand, and the same technology that kept public school students connected with educators is quickly being adapted to home schooling activities.

One has to struggle to find good things that have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic, but perhaps providing families alternative channels for effective education can be one of them.

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