Fairfax Co. sees largest drop in Va. public school enrollment | WTOP News

For the second straight year, enrollment in Virginia public schools has dropped, with 46,000 fewer students enrolled since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to data from the Virginia Department of Education, the largest school district in the commonwealth, Fairfax County, saw the largest enrollment dip — more than 10,000 students, or a 5.4% difference between fall 2019 and fall 2021.

The second-largest school district, Prince William County, had 2,135 fewer students enroll, or 2.3%. The third-largest district, Loudoun County, enrolled 2,422 fewer students this year, or 2.9%.

The steepest enrollment drop statewide was for preschool — down 8.6% from fall 2019, and kindergarten, which dipped 5.8%. Parents in Virginia have long had the option to delay enrolling their children in kindergarten for a year.

The number of home-schoolers, including students with religious exemptions, jumped dramatically  from more than 44,000 in 2019 to more than 65,000 in fall 2020. This year, with school systems offering in-person learning, the number has dipped to 61,873, which is still 40% higher than before the pandemic.

The Virginia Department of Education numbers don’t track private school admissions.

While school funding is generally based on enrollment, Virginia Department of Education spokesman Charles Pyle said the recent dips were expected given the pandemic, and aren’t financially hurting school divisions yet.

“The 2021 General Assembly provided divisions no-loss funding to ensure that no division lost funding in FY21 and FY22 as compared to the 2020-22 biennium due to enrollment dips in fall 2020,” Pyle said in an email to the Virginia Mercury.

He said the statewide funding that was potentially at risk totaled $164 million for the current fiscal year and $278 million for the previous year.

Source – https://wtop.com/virginia/2021/11/virginia-public-school-enrollment-drops-again-nearly-4-since-pandemic-hit/

Why more Black families are choosing to home-school their children this fall

According to the National Home Education Research Institute, over the past 15 years more Black parents have decided to home-school their children.Marta Monteiro / for NBC News

As schools begin reopening across the country, in Chicago, Angela Valentine says her 12-year-old son, Dorian, will not be returning. Instead, he will be home-schooled.

“I just began to see some telltale signs that things weren’t working to our advantage,” she said. “And started to see some discrepancies, some inequities.”

Some of those discrepancies involved her son’s academics. Valentine said that as Dorian’s grades slipped last year, before the coronavirus pandemic closed classrooms, his school failed to give him adequate support and solutions for subjects in which he was weak. Her son was one of only a few Black boys in his class, and he said his social interactions changed over time. Other students suddenly stopped playing with him. He told her that he spends recess on the swings by himself.

“We later found out that he was called the N-word,” Valentine said.

Bernita Bradley, an education advocate, said she has heard similar stories from parents in her hometown, Detroit.

When Detroit Public Schools shut down in the early stages of the pandemic, she noticed Black students’ being left behind and their parents’ being ignored by school administrators. Students, she said, did not have adequate resources, like laptops and Wi-Fi, while students in affluent neighborhoods already had needed resources. Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said last year that despite an effort to distribute 50,000 laptops and free internet service to students, the district experienced chronic absenteeism last fall. About 5 percent of the district’s students had broken laptops or did not have Wi-Fi connectivity at home. That led to chronic absenteeism — about 30 percent of students did not attend online classes.

“Families were crying out for help,” she said. “All parents kept getting was ‘Oh, this is a pandemic and be gracious and give us time.’ Not that it was perfect for anybody — it was a whole pandemic — but families just started tapping out. They were like, ‘If you won’t help me, I’ll do this myself.’”

And they did just that. Bradley became the point of contact for Black parents interested in home schooling. She received a $25,000 education grant from VELVA, which funds people and programs that are meeting students’ and families’ educational needs. She then launched Engaged Detroit, a home-school co-op that assists Black parents with educational resources.

Bradley also began home-schooling her 11th grade daughter, who was so frustrated with the local school system that she considered dropping out and getting her high school equivalency diploma.

“I was like, ‘No, you won’t,’” Bradley said. “‘You won’t drop out because other people are not accommodating you the right way.’”

Her daughter has graduated from high school and is attending Wayne State University.

Nationwide, Black parents are reporting their challenging experiences with their kids in public, private and charter schools, prompting many to reconsider their educational options. Data show that, facing racism at school, bias from some teachers and curriculums that parents deem inadequate, more Black families than ever are choosing to home-school their children. After a year of virtual or hybrid learning and the unknowns of a new school year during the pandemic, more parents see that route as the best option.

Brian Ray, a doctor of science education who founded the National Home Education Research Institute, said that over the past 15 years more Black parents have decided to home-school. In fact, according to an analysis by the organization in 2015, Black children made up just 1 percent of home-schoolers across the country in the late 1990s. By 2010, the proportion of Black families home-schooling their children nearly doubled, to 1.9 percent. According to a survey by the Census Bureau, 3.3 percent of Black families were home-schooling their children in spring 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic, but the figure jumped to 16.1 percent of Black children in the fall of 2020.

Ray’s study revealed a significant difference in academic achievement among Black home-school students. In 2015, 140 Black home-schooling families were given standardized tests. The tests were compared to those of more than 1,200 Black public school students, which showed that Black home-schoolers scored higher in reading, language and math. The home-schoolers’ scores were also equal to or higher than white public school students’ scores, on average.

Ray said he was not surprised. “When you put your child in an institution, the life of the child and the life of the family start to revolve around the institution rather than the education of the child,” he said.

Now, as schools reopen and students return to school, National Black Home Educators, a nonprofit organization, says it is preparing to meet the increasing needs of parents and students interested in home-schooling.

CEO Joyce Burges said the interest in her organization was “overwhelming.”

She said traffic on the organization’s website has grown exponentially in recent years and it works with more than 700 families directly, compared to just 30 when it began in 2000. The organization offers tools and resources to help parents navigate home schooling, while affirming students by providing a Black-focused curriculum.

“We are bringing a Black experience,” Burges said. Black history, literature and culture “should have never been left out,” she said, adding: “It should have never been invisible, but an older gentleman told me a long time ago, he said, ‘Joyce, the story’s going to be told according to the people who write the story, and Black Americans — we are writing this story … so this is the spirit of how we write our curriculum for families, and it’s a beautiful thing.”

Source – https://www.nbcnews.com/news/amp/rcna1869

Source – https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/black-families-are-choosing-home-school-children-fall-rcna1869

Sparked by pandemic fallout, homeschooling surges across US | AP News

Although the pandemic disrupted family life across the U.S. since taking hold in spring 2020, some parents are grateful for one consequence: They’re now opting to homeschool their children, even as schools plan to resume in-person classes.

The specific reasons vary widely. Some families who spoke with The Associated Press have children with special educational needs; others seek a faith-based curriculum or say their local schools are flawed. The common denominator: They tried homeschooling on what they thought was a temporary basis and found it beneficial to their children.

“That’s one of the silver linings of the pandemic — I don’t think we would have chosen to homeschool otherwise,” said Danielle King of Randolph, Vermont, whose 7-year-old daughter Zoë thrived with the flexible, one-on-one instruction. Her curriculum has included literature, anatomy, even archaeology, enlivened by outdoor excursions to search for fossils.

The surge has been confirmed by the U.S. Census Bureau, which reported in March that the rate of households homeschooling their children rose to 11% by September 2020, more than doubling from 5.4% just six months earlier.

Black households saw the largest jump; their homeschooling rate rose from 3.3% in the spring of 2020 to 16.1% in the fall.

The parents in one of those households, Arlena and Robert Brown of Austin, Texas, had three children in elementary school when the pandemic took hold. After experimenting with virtual learning, the couple opted to try homeschooling with a Catholic-oriented curriculum provided by Seton Home Study School, which serves about 16,000 students nationwide.

The Browns plan to continue homeschooling for the coming year, grateful that they can tailor the curriculum to fit their children’s distinctive needs. Jacoby, 11, has been diagnosed with narcolepsy and sometimes needs naps during the day; Riley, 10, has tested as academically gifted; Felicity, 9, has a learning disability.

“I didn’t want my kids to become a statistic and not meet their full potential,” said Robert Brown, a former teacher who now does consulting. “And we wanted them to have very solid understanding of their faith.”

Arlena Brown, who gave birth to a fourth child 10 months ago, worked as a preschool teacher before the pandemic. Homeschooling, she says, has been a rewarding adventure.

“In the beginning, the biggest challenge was to unschool ourselves and understand that homeschooling has so much freedom,” she said. “We can go as quickly or slowly as we need to.”

Race played a key role in the decision by another African American family to homeschool their 12-year-old son, Dorian.

Angela Valentine said Dorian was often the only Black student in his classes at a suburban Chicago public school, was sometimes treated unfairly by administrators, and was dismayed as other children stopped playing with him.

As the pandemic eased, the family decided to keep Dorian at home and teach him there, using a curriculum provided by National Black Home Educators that provides content for each academic subject pertaining to African American history and culture.

“I felt the burden of making the shift, making sure we’re making the right choices,” Valentine said. “But until we’re really comfortable with his learning environment, we’ll stay on this homeschool journey.”

Charmaine Williams, who lives in the St. Louis suburb of Baldwin, also is using the National Black Home Educators curriculum as she homeschools her 10-year-old son, Justin, and 6-year-old daughter, Janel.

Williams said she and her husband tried two previous stints of homeschooling for Justin after school officials complained about his behavior. Now — with the new curriculum and an accompanying support network — they feel more confident about choosing it as a long-term option.

“At school, children have to follow a certain pattern, and there’s bullying, belittling — compared to being home where they’re free to be themselves,” Williams said.

“There’s no turning back for us now,” she added. “The pandemic has been a blessing — an opportunity to take ownership of our children’s education.”

Joyce Burges, co-founder and program director of National Black Home Educators, said the 21-year-old organization had about 5,000 members before the pandemic and now has more than 35,000.

Many of the new families experienced difficulties, including lack of internet access, that limited their children’s ability to benefit from virtual learning during the pandemic, Burges said.

“It got so they didn’t trust anything but their own homes, and their children being with them,” she said. “Now they’re seeing the future — seeing what their children can do.”

For some families, the switch to homeschooling was influenced by their children’s special needs. That’s the case for Jennifer Osgood of Fairfax, Vermont, whose 7-year-old daughter Lily has Down syndrome.

Having observed Lily’s progress with reading and arithmetic while at home during the pandemic, Osgood is convinced homeschooling is the best option for her going forward.

She has made the same decision for her 12-year-old son Noah, who didn’t like the remote classes offered by his public school in the spring of 2020, and did homeschooling throughout the 2020-21 school year. It went so well that they want to continue for at least a few more years.

“He told me he was learning so much more at home than he ever did in school,” Osgood recalled. “He said, ‘School is just so chaotic — we don’t get very much done in any particular class. Here, I sit down, you tell me what to do, and minutes later I’m done.’”

Heather Pray of Phoenix, Maryland, says homeschooling has been a major success for her 7-year-old son, Jackson, who has autism. The family made the switch because Jackson was struggling with the virtual learning that his school provided during the pandemic.

“My son did great (with homeschooling), even with just two hours of schoolwork a day,” Pray said. “I got him into piano lessons, taught him to read.”

Pray is also homeschooling her daughter, Hayley, who’s going into 7th grade and had been attending a Christian school.

“I had no idea how this was going to go — I just dove in headfirst,” said Pray. “I felt God was holding my hand.”

The Gonzalez family from Appomattox, Virginia — who are devout Catholics — opted to homeschool their three sons, ages 9, 13 and 15, after their Catholic school in Lynchburg closed in 2020 due to falling enrollment.

They’re using the Catholic-focused curriculum from Seton Home Study School, which Jennifer Gonzalez, the boys’ mom, described as rigorous but well-organized.

“My kids have just excelled,” she said. “We’re able to be home and be together.”

Source – https://apnews.com/article/health-religion-coronavirus-pandemic-race-and-ethnicity-5385d17b9f91591f4baae71bafb71f0c

FTC orders Walmart, Amazon and others to turn over information about supply chain issues, skyrocketing prices

By: Scripps National

Posted at 4:38 PM, Nov 29, 2021 and last updated 5:08 AM, Nov 30, 2021

The Federal Trade Commission announced Monday that it is ordering nine large retailers, wholesalers, and consumer good suppliers to provide detailed information to help understand the cause of supply chain problems and skyrocketing prices.

Walmart, Amazon, Kroger, Procter & Gamble Co., Tyson Foods, Inc., and Kraft Heinz Co. are among the companies that will be required to turn over information.

“Supply chain disruptions are upending the provision and delivery of a wide array of goods, ranging from computer chips and medicines to meat and lumber. I am hopeful the FTC’s new 6(b) study will shed light on market conditions and business practices that may have worsened these disruptions or led to asymmetric effects,” said Chair Lina M. Khan.

The FTC says its study will also examine whether specific bottlenecks, shortages, or anticompetitive practices are contributing to rising consumer prices.

President Joe Biden met with the CEOs of major companies on Monday to discuss supply chain issues. The CEO of Walmart said Biden’s push to improve the situation at ports has helped ease bottlenecks.

Source – https://apnews.com/article/health-religion-coronavirus-pandemic-race-and-ethnicity-5385d17b9f91591f4baae71bafb71f0c

Jordan Peterson on Homeschooling

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