Why I Homeschool: A Story in 3 Acts
I’m not saying that every kid who goes to public school is in danger. Each public-school district is different, and your milleage may vary. But what I am saying is that as I look at what the schools are like across the street from my house, in the county next door, or in a city down the highway, I’ve made the decision that I’d rather have my kids not play that game.
I’m occasionally asked why I homeschool my kids instead of sending them to public school. The truth is the reasons are personal and include the learning styles of each child, as well as familial. As a pastor, homeschooling just fits with our lifestyle better.
At the same time, there is no hiding from the fact that public schools in Virginia have shifted radically since I moved to the state ten years ago. Because of how many military instilations are here, Virginia is a very transitory state. On top of that, Northern Virginia (the DC area) is where many federal workers live, ensuring constant turnover in the schools and churches. So even though I have only been here ten years, that is long enough to be considered an old-timer, and it is also long enough to have observed a pretty basic shift in the schools here. Parents—both Christian and non-Christian alike—have noticed it. The schools here do not prioritize academics, but “equity.” In fact, “equity” is of such importance here that the schools are willing to sacrifice both academics and safety to pursue it.
Here are three examples of that from the past year.
Act 1: Thomas Jefferson High
Known locally as “TJ,” Thomas Jefferson High School used to be regarded as one of the top academic high schools in the country. It is also right across the street from my house. For the past two years, almost every Sunday as I drive home from church there are high school students protesting on the street outside of TJ. I know it is not unusual for students to object to their school’s administration, or even to actively protest it. But picket lines on a Sunday are unusual, much more when they are nearly every Sunday.
Why are the students protesting? Well, for years, the students and faculty have prided themselves on their academic accomplishments, college placements, and school reputation. But a few years ago Fairfax County Public Schools made the decision to no longer make academic excellence the goal of TJ, but rather “equity.” As a result, TJ changed their admissions process to drastically reduce the number of Asian-Americans allowed in. These new admissions policies were so blatantly discriminatory they were continually struck down by courts, only for the court orders to be ignored and the practices continued. The discrimination was justified by administrators because it was in pursuit of “equity.” The students recognize the racism (and that really is the best word for it) inherent in the pursuit of “equity,” and they respond by protesting.
Last month I stopped to talk to some of the students. They told me that the school has a new policy they are protesting, a policy that bars the administration from informing students if they received the national merit award. Apparently (and I don’t know this for a fact, but it is what the students say), the only way to know if you have gotten this award is if the administration informs you, and the TJ administrators stopped doing that a few years ago. Why? The Washington Post reported that one administrator defended the policy because recognizing national merit scholars makes “other kids feel bad” about not getting the award.