Bureaucrats Declare War on Learning Pods. They’ll Lose.
As already unimpressive government schools fail the test put to them by the pandemic, families have turned to alternatives old and new to see that their children are educated. Among the popular responses have been learning pods of cooperating families, either to facilitate and enhance the online offerings of public-school systems or else to replace them as stand-alone education environments.
School bureaucrats have responded not by stepping-up their efforts, but by first begging people not to leave, and then lashing out against the competition. It’s an ill-conceived war that they’re bound to lose.
With schools struggling to deal with social-distancing for in-person teaching and to offer effective virtual lessons, “parents are increasingly turning to microschools — very small schools that usually have a specific culture — and learning pods,” The New York Times noted last month. “Microschools can be based outside or inside a home, and may or may not be state-approved and accredited. Learning pods are generally ad hoc and home-based, most having been created this summer in response to public school closings.”
Experimentation with such alternatives has been given impetus by government schools’ widespread inability to master online learning even as teachers unions resist efforts to return kids to physical classrooms. Just this week, the union representing public teachers in Washington, D.C. added to families’ uncertainties by torpedoing the district’s plans for reopening schools.
Amidst this chaos, the exodus has been impressive. In their stand-alone form, learning pods are essentially rebranded homeschooling co-ops, with participants counted as homeschoolers. According to a Gallup survey, after years of steady growth, the ranks of homeschoolers doubled this year from 5 percent of all students to 10 percent; traditional public schools saw a drop in enrollment from 83 percent of all students to 76 percent. The numbers don’t reflect students still enrolled in public schools but working with other kids in learning pods that make up for the failings of the tax-funded institutions.
But nobody likes rejection. That goes just as much for government bureaucrats as f
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