Parents Who Opt Out of Public Schools Don’t Deserve Smears From Teachers Unions
Marta Mac Ban is not a revolutionary. Ashley Ekpo is not disgruntled. And Brooke Hunt does not consider herself better than others. All three women just want the best education possible for their children.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, that has meant taking matters into their own hands. Rather than settling for public school solutions that put students in front of laptops all day, the parents have pulled their kids out of the system and tried alternatives.
The empowerment scares teachers unions, which have a long history of attacking choice. Normally when parents try homeschooling or other options, union allies brand them as weird or extreme. The newest smear is even uglier.
Parents who bring their children together in small learning groups during the pandemic not only get labeled as eccentric, but also as segregationists guilty of promoting racial division in a nation with an ugly history of “separate but equal.”
The National Education Association lays out the talking point in a recent policy paper, and industry insiders have repeated the claim on dozens of platforms. Using loaded terms like “radical” and “unqualified,” they have sounded the alarm about a massive parental revolt.
Popular targets include families that have organized themselves into pandemic pods and microschools—two variations of homeschool co-ops that allow in-person instruction to continue in residential settings while brick-and-mortar classrooms remain closed or restricted.
Union leaders blast the innovation not because it fails, but because it works. They argue that the proliferation of home study groups will widen opportunity gaps and worsen school segregation because well-resourced families will benefit disproportionately. New York University sociologist R. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy says pod parents engage in “opportunity hoarding.”
Gregory Hutchings, superintendent of Alexandria City Public Schools in Virginia, warned about the opportunity gaps during a summer meeting with parents. Yet his concern that nobody get ahead during the pandemic applied only to others. Shortly after his lecture, he pulled one of his own children out of the district and enrolled her
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