More People Pursue Homeschooling Since COVID With Ethan Demme – Since the shutdown with COVID, more parents are pursuing homeschooling for their kids! What will happen now? Join us for this interview with Ethan Demme!
Air Date: 08/24/2020
Guest: Ethan Demme
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. It’s WallBuilders Live and we’re talking about today’s hottest topics on policy and faith and the culture. Of course, we always look at things from a biblical, historical and constitutional perspective. My name is Rick Green. I’m a former Texas legislator and America’s constitution coach. And I’m here with David Barton, he’s America’s premier historian and the founder of WallBuilders. Tim Barton with us, national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders.
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Alright, David, Tim, later in the program, Ethan Demme will be with us from Demme Learning we’re going to be talking about just the way homeschooling is exploding. COVID has brought some big changes in the country. I don’t know that we could point to a time of bigger change for education itself, not just at the elementary level, but colleges, the whole nine yards. I mean, this has really caused people to rethink what kind of value they get for the money they spend, whether on a college campus or to their local school district. And are there better options for how to educate my kid?
Well, it’s interesting that this really started about three months ago. We saw two to three months ago polling coming out that said, up to 40% of parents are looking at homeschooling their kids. You know, that first poll came out and people said that they’re just thinking about it, they’re not going to really do it. And now that we’ve gone downstream, another 6, 8, 10 weeks, we’re seeing poll after poll after poll after poll coming out that people are really completely rethinking education.
They’re rethinking the results they see in their own kids. They’re rethinking where they want their kids to be. Some of them, it’s out of fear of COVID. I don’t want my kids going to school with other kids where there might be COVID. Some of them, it’s just out of frustration with what they’re seeing their kids are learning or not learning. Some of them is because when they got away from school and then started searching online, they found some really good teachers out there that teach subjects better than the teachers their kids had and so they get better quality for their kids. And it doesn’t have all the drama that goes with school oftentimes, and it’s a lot cheaper. And so there’s been a lot of reasons that have combined.
But nonetheless, to see the mentality change so quickly in the nation toward government education in general, I don’t say public education, it really is government education. And I think Christian education, so many other things are public education, they take the kids that come and they work with those kids. I think public education is really government education.
Nonetheless, we’re looking at having competition with government education seriously for the first time, maybe in my lifetime. And we’ve held for a long time that any kind of competition improves the product, improves the outcome, reduces the price, improves the quality. So, I mean, this is something that is long overdue for government education, they need to have to compete for what they get. And there just hasn’t been that kind of cause to do that, because people like the sports or it’s where I went to school or whatever reason.
But now, man, there’s a break in thinking and people are really looking differently. And so consistently, we’re seeing 30-35%, 40-45% saying, hey, I’m really looking at homeschooling this year. So, with this new mentality that’s kind of out there and people actually looking for options, homeschooling has been a genuine option. And so, what we’re seeing is the interest in homeschooling that by people going to websites and saying I want to know more about what you guys do or virtually, every State, many local communities, they have homeschool conventions for cities or for their state, I mean, they’re seeing people showing up that have never done this before who want to learn about it.
So, there’s just a lot of ways of going beyond just the polling measurements where people are saying, I’m considering it or I’m willing to consider it. And now we’re actually seeing those numbers show up at conferences and conventions and other places where the homeschoolers are meeting and a lot of people are saying, hey, tell me about this, I’m looking at doing this for my kids. So, there is a change going on in the nation.
Well, one of the guys that is seeing a lot of this both on the ground at some of these conventions, and then also just website inquiries, and then working with these homeschool associations across the country is Ethan Demme. He’s on the parentalrights.org board with me and he agreed to come on and share some of these numbers. Has been diving into that same polling that you’re talking about, David and just the increase in interest and frankly, the satisfaction, the people that ended up with their kids at home more than usual and saying, hey, this is not so bad, actually, I like seeing my kids and being a part of their education. Stay with us, folks. Ethan Demme when we come back from the break here on WallBuilders Live.
The Founding Fathers of America made a habit of reading through the Bible once a year. There’s no better source of wisdom and it is applicable to every issue in our lives. What a great time for us as American citizens to take this time. If you’ve got extra time at home now, if you’re quarantined at home and you’re looking for something to do, what better thing could there be to do than to read through the Bible, maybe for the first time in your life?
I tried to make this a habit several years ago and I had a new tool to start doing that with and it was called the Founders’ Bible. It gave me a chance not only to read through the Bible once a year, but also to learn history while I was doing that. And what I love about the Founders’ Bible is that as I’m reading that Scripture, then all of a sudden, there’ll be an article inserted right there by that Scripture about what the Founding Fathers learned from that specific verse or chapter and how they applied it to launch our new. It’s a really fun way to learn. It’s incredibly empowering and it has answers for today. The Bible is full of all the right answers for today, in fact, it’s the only source that has all the right answers.
So, if you haven’t read through the Founders’ Bible, I challenge you and encourage you get a copy of the Founders’ Bible today, it’s available at wallbuilders.com. And we even have a digital version, so you can do this on your phone or iPad or computer. Check out the Founders’ Bible today, make it a part of your regular reading throughout the year. But right now, is a great opportunity to redo the Founders’ Bible. Check it out today at WallBuilders.com.
Welcome back here on WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us. Ethan Demme with us. Demme Learning, you guys have been doing Math-U-See, for I don’t know how many decades, you had to fill me in on that part. But we served together on the parentalrights.org board and now just thrilled to have you with us. Man, thanks for some time.
Well, thanks for having me on.
Well, we’ve kind of crossed paths at homeschool conventions over the years and crisscrossing the country. You guys have done much to educate young homeschoolers across the country for years. But now the homeschooling world is changing almost overnight as, I don’t know, Ethan, it may be millions of people that suddenly decide I’m going to keep homeschooling after all this COVID stuff. Well, what do you think is on the horizon here?
There’s data all over the map on this one. So, we’re seeing tons of interest in homeschooling, you’re talking to state leaders and you’re starting to see enrollment numbers pick up too. So early on, we looked at several studies that were asking parents what they were wanting to do. And if you look at sort of most of those, yeah, at least half of parents are very concerned about putting the kids back in school in the fall and about 8-10% of those are adamant about not returning to school.
So, if those parents actually follow through which we’re seeing the numbers that they are, you could see sort of virtual learning, homeschooling, cyber charter schools that the numbers could easily double. And that’s what we’re seeing right now, is the numbers are doubling across the country. You’ve got, I just looked at an article, Vermont homeschool enrollment is up 75%. In Wisconsin, the enrollment as of the beginning of August was double what it was the previous year. And Nebraska, is up 21%. In North Carolina, where you go online to file that you’re going to homeschool, so many people went on the website to do it, they crashed the site. So, we’re seeing huge numbers up all across the country.
And when you said that earlier about how many were concerned about going back to the public school, I’m assuming that’s a mix, right? That there’s some that they’re part of the kind of what I call overreaction crowd of the COVID thing where they don’t want to leave the house and then some are going to be, I don’t want my kid having to wear a mask, they’re going to be more like I think, which is the young aren’t going to get it and we’re being mean silly and not letting them do sports and whatever.
But so, I guess it’s a mix. So, we shouldn’t be fooled and thinking this is all suddenly a pro- homeschool crowd, as much as it is almost out of necessity. But the good thing is the ones that tried it back in the spring, liked it. So, they may not be pro-homeschool yet, but now they’re kind of trying it out of necessity and realizing, hey, it’s actually kind of cool to get this extra time with my kids.
Yeah, you’re seeing reasons all over the place. So, you’ve got some parents who just don’t want to do virtual school again. I was actually, a couple weeks ago, I was down in Cobb County, Georgia, and the week for a homeschool conference, which was lightly attended, but about half the people there were decided to come that week when all of Metro Atlanta had said that they’re doing virtual schooling in the fall.
I had one mom come up to me and say you know what, we did the virtual school in once already and I’m not having my kids sit in front of a laptop all day, so we’re going to do it ourselves. So, you have everything across the board, you’re right. You’ve got some parents who are afraid that the schools won’t be safe. Some don’t want to do the virtual school. Some think that the schools are overreacting and they don’t want their kids to have to follow all the rules and wear a mask.
So, it’s literally what I’m seeing though is the perceptions are changing. There was one luminary study where 52% of parents now have a more positive view of homeschooling than they did prior to coding.
Wow! Man, that’s a massive shift.
Yeah, even they’re choosing not to they’re like, I have a lot more respect for any parent that teaches their kids at home.
No kidding. You know, I was at the very beginning of all this when they started closing all the schools, that was one of the things I thought was. You know, respect especially for homeschool moms just went through the roof because all these other couples are going, how in the world do you do all this and still maintain, you know, keep your house going and all the things that we homeschoolers been juggling for decades? But for them to suddenly be thrown into it, they’re like, wow, now I really respect those people that I thought were crazy. But now I realize these are some well-organized folks, they can they can pull this off.
I’m thrilled with that number you just threw out. I mean, because think about what that means for us as a homeschool movement, you know, for down the road when it comes to even legislative proposals, you don’t have near the pushback and near the, I don’t know, how would you describe it? Just typically when we’re trying to get good legislation passed or protect homeschooling rights and all that, there’s definitely a large segment of the population that thinks we’re weird. Now, I think that’s going to shrink dramatically and we’re going to be much more likely to get good legislative proposals passed. You think that’s possible?
I think that’s possible, but I sort of see a battle coming if you will between two competing forces. You’ve got on the one side, you have parents who have tried homeschooling now or virtual schooling and they like it and they want to keep doing it. So, you have a lot of parents who want options and choices, that’s what I would say parents want. And they’ve been now given more choices and forced to make those choices and they’d like it.
But on the flip side of that, you’re seeing pushback from schools and teachers’ unions where they’re seeing funding getting taken away. Because I mean, you had in Wisconsin, you had principal sending out letters to the parents saying, please don’t pull your kids out, we need them enrolled through this date, so that we’ll get them counted for funding. Basically saying, it’s fine if you homeschool, just wait till after this date so we get the funding. In California, they froze all the funding to last year’s level so that the charter schools, the virtual charter schools that are seeing massive growth, huge waitlisted students, now they can’t staff up and hire teachers. So, they could easily be doubling in their enrollment but they can’t do it on the same amount of funding.
Oh, yeah, you’re right. That funding battle is going to be huge. I just think our allies are going to be greater than they’ve ever been, but the other side is definitely going to be digging in like crazy. It’s almost comical watching some of the teacher union positions right now to try to prevent schools from meeting. They still want to be paid. They still want all the money to flow to them. But they want to actually have school. So, it’s just, I love seeing, I’m watching on some of the social media, just the comments of people going, wait a minute, this isn’t even logical. Why, you know, we’re beginning to realize how non-essential the public schools are and how many other options are out there. So, that’s pretty cool.
I’m wondering though, how well equipped are we in the movement? You know, our state associations, I hope are going to grow like crazy as a result of this. What we’ve been telling new people is hey, If you’ve never done this before, whatever state you’re in, there’s an association or two that stands ready to help you and people that have done this for decades will come alongside you and help you. That’s been pretty cool to watch even that growth in the associations and the opportunity to serve these new families.
Yeah, and I think the biggest one there is to get the word out that these state organizations exist. So the flip side of that is most of the state organizations are making their money and getting the word out at their homeschool conferences, which were all canceled.
So there was no way to sort of spread the word to the new folk, so it’s all online. So if you know anyone who’s new, tell them like you said, contact your State organization, get involved, become a member, because the membership fees really help keep them alive and they’re the ones who are going to back in your local legislators…
Yeah, and even I don’t know of a State association that has membership fees that are not incredibly worth it. Like in other words, they throw all kinds of things that you for free. Guys like you and me, we give all kinds of discounts or even free curriculum for those people that join. So, I mean, they get a ton of stuff when they join. It’s a nominal amount and well, well worth it.
And for people that are listening that may be saying, okay, well, I don’t know what the name is. Just literally type in the name of your state and homeschool association, it may not be called that in your particular state, but it’ll pop up in those first 5 or 6 on Google. Easy to find. And they’re great people to work with. I’m so glad you went down to Cobb County and sounds like from what you were saying, I mean, there were a lot of people walking around total newbies, like I’ve never done anything like this before and getting all the help that they need to be able to launch this fall.
Yeah. And that’s why, I mean, we read one in Tennessee the week before that, because that’s where we’re seeing the new homeschoolers. And they’re literally going onto Google saying, how do I do this? They find out there’s a homeschool conference and they’re going to walk in the door and we just want to be there to help them out.
That’s awesome. I love it. I love it, man. Well, I just think it’s so encouraging. I’m hoping they find the reward of that extra time with your kids, frankly, the learning environment and how much faster their kids will learn things and the attention that can be given to the individual. And there’s so many great options for curriculum and tools. And it’s just an exciting time and Demmelearning.com is one of those places we want to encourage people to go and check out and look for those conferences to go. And you can actually meet Ethan in person, depending on the convention and visit with him about their curriculum and what they’re doing.
Ethan, let’s get you back and we’ll talk about where parentalrights.org is right now, the different initiatives we’re working on. And one of the most important things to be done right now is to protect the right to even do what these new parents are about to do. And that is direct the upbringing of their children and direct their education. That’s what we’re all about a parentalrights.org.
Yep. I’d love to come on and talk about that. That’s both the parental rights and Demme Learning, we’d like to say, well, my motto is “Trust Parents”. Trust parents, they’re the smartest, they’re the experts on their own kids and if you let them loose, they’ll be great things.
I love it. I love it. Alright, brother, thank you for your time today, man. Appreciate you coming on.
Yeah, thanks for having me.
Stay with us, folks. We’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.
Hi, friends, this is Tim Barton of WallBuilders. This is a time when most Americans don’t know much about American history or even heroes of the faith. And I know oftentimes we, parents, we’re trying to find good content for our kids to read.
And if you remember back to the Bible, to the book of Hebrews, it has the faith Hall of Fame where they outline the leaders of faith that had gone before them. Well, this is something that as Americans, we really want to go back and outline some of these heroes, not just of American history, but heroes of Christianity in our faith as well.
I want to let you know about some biographical sketches we have available on our website. One is called The Courageous Leaders collection. And this collection includes people like Abigail Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Francis Scott Key, George Washington Carver, Susanna Wesley, even the Wright brothers. And there’s a second collection called Heroes of History. In this collection, you’ll read about people like Benjamin Franklin or Christopher Columbus, Daniel Boone, George Washington, Harriet Tubman, friends, the list goes on and on. This is a great collection for your young person to have and read and it’s a providential view of American and Christian history. This is available at www.wallbuilders.com. That’s www.wallbuilders.com.
We’re back here on WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us. Thanks again to Ethan Demme for joining us here on WallBuilders Live today. Back with David and Tim Barton. Guys, it has changed a lot even just the last 10 years in the homeschool world and the increase in the number of people wanting to be a part of this. But man, I mean, this is an astronomical change we could not have seen coming, whether they call it a black swan event, where education is being turned on its head right now up and down the line and I’m excited to see so many people sort of kind of be forced into this to try it, but then to actually enjoy it as much as they have. We’ve known that as families that have been involved in homeschooling our whole lives. But man, now millions of others are finding the same thing.
Well, Rick, I think one of the points you made in the interview too, we’ve talked about it off air, and maybe even on air before, is how there’s going to be a different thought for so many parents when they look at homeschool families and especially when they see they have more than one or two or three kids? Because for so many parents, they’re going, man, this has been some of the longest 5 or 6 months of my life, right, having kids home all that we’re doing, so much work. And then they see a family of 5, 6, 7, 8 kids, and they realize you homeschool, oh, wow, you all are really tough, you’re really strong.
The perception is now just so different. Once parents were forced into this idea of homeschooling, and even as was pointed out in the interview, that now 52% of Americans have a positive view of homeschooling. And of course, what that means without homeschool families and whatever else, it really is interesting to see that this cosmic shift taking place. And we’ve talked before about how we think there’s a potential to be a lot of positive resets coming out of all of this coronavirus stuff, of all of the craziness of drama. Of course, there’s all this election drama going on. There still is a lot of drama, but there’s a lot of positive opportunities for some good resets in areas and education being one of those.
And one of the things for so long that parents have just acquiesce so much of the responsibility of raising their kids to government schools and trusting that the government schools were doing a good job without actually knowing what all was or wasn’t happening and I’ve talked to so many parents now who even as schools have started back up and their kids, many of them are doing it online and some were in person or some were doing part in person part online.
But parents have realized that a lot of what their kids have been doing has not been very good academically, because parents have seen some of what’s happened online. Parents saw some of the end of last year with kids being at home and they recognize that the academic standards are not what they thought they were. And it’s easy for parents to think that schools are going to be like they were when I was there, that there’s some positive opportunities, there’s some negative things, right. It’s a life and there’s people and there’s sinful flesh, weak moments.
But overall, it’s a good system. They don’t realize that in many areas, the system has declined significantly since they were there. And now they’re being able to see at least on some levels academically, where it’s not the same, which is why homeschooling now in addition to whatever health concerns might be there, homeschooling is now an option that parents are thinking I want to be more involved and helping, make sure my kids get a good academic education. And that’s a really good thing.
Well, the academic education, but even as Ethan was pointing out, and by the way, pointing out the explosive numbers, I mean, shutting down websites because of new inquiries of people wanting to homeschool or having the explosion in North Carolina, Wisconsin all the numbers he went through. But then to have parents say, well, the school officials are telling me that if I want to homeschool, that’s fine, but leave the kids in public school for the first couple of weeks, because that’s where we get the county and how much money we receive.
You know, to me as a parent, that would be absolutely condescending statement. We want your kids so that we can get money, then after that, we really don’t care whether they’re here or not. I mean, you throw that in with the bad quality of education that some of the parents are now seeing and then attitudes like that where your kids are important to us because they represent money to us, that’s just not the kind of stuff that should be surrounding kids in a good healthy, wholesome education.
Well, one of the things too we’ve talked about for a long time with a school choice or even voucher programs or tax credits, is that if the money that families are already paying in taxes for their kids to go to the public school system, if that money follow the kids, I think that also would change in a lot of parents minds. If they saw they had the option of getting several thousand dollars back, potentially per student depending on what school that they live in, if they had the option of getting a lot of money back, all of a sudden now they’re also thinking different about this homeschool thing. Or even about the notion of do I want to send them to a charter school or private school or Christian school, whatever else if they realized how much money is associated in some of this. Which is why teachers unions have become so strong, because there’s so much money going to them. It’s why, dad, for many school districts, the administration has grown so much, where in some school districts, there’s as many or more administrative staff than there are actually teachers teaching the students, which seems very silly or even counterproductive. It would seem like no, you want more teachers with the students, you don’t need as many administrative staff etc, etc.
But this is part of government intervention in education. The more the government intervenes and the more that they try to dictate and micromanage how education should go, the more hassle and red tape and paperwork it creates which leads to the growth and administration process, which leads to more money being wasted, not going to the students’ classroom, to the students’ needs, etc.
And dad, you’re right, it would be something I would think most parents, if they saw that we want your kids to stay here so we get money and they can leave, that’s pretty disingenuous thoughts. And that’s not to say that all schools or teachers like that, because we certainly know they’re not. There’s a lot of really good people in public education. We have family, they’re public school teachers. We have a lot of friends that are administrators. We understand, there’s a lot of really good people in the system, but the system as a whole is not a super effective and productive system. There’s a lot of problems with a system. And this is why I think we’re seeing a lot of growth, beyond just even the health concerns, there’s a lot of growth in the homeschool community, because many parents are recognizing there’s a better system out there.
So interesting, the good things that can come out of these difficult times of the COVID crackdown. So, we really do encourage people to contact their local State homeschool association as we said in the interview, just type in your State and homeschool association and it’ll bring them up, it will also bring up local groups as well. A lot of people in the situation for the first time in their lives educating at home and I’m telling you, there are so many blessings in doing that. So be sure and check out those associations, get the help that you need. There are plenty of people out there that have done this for decades and they want to come alongside you and help you out.
We want to do the same thing, so check out our websites today at wallbuilders.com and wallbuilderslive.com. In fact, wallbuilders.com, there’s some great material and great curriculum for you. We aren’t technically a homeschool curriculum company, but a lot of homeschoolers for years have used the WallBuilders materials to teach history and government and just to have fun. I mean, that’s what we do with our Chasing American legends programs. That’s a fun entertaining bring history to life. That’s available at wallbuilders.com, also our Constitution class, Constitution Alive, and so many other great programs on video and audio, some of the books, check it out wallbuilders.com and you can supplement some of the other things you’re doing at home with that education. Integrate way to raise up a good citizen too. Not just frankly, that’s the real purpose of education under most State Constitutions is to make sure that they’re good citizens who understand freedom. So that’s a great way for you to be a part of that bigger picture as well in the way that you educate your kids at home.
Sure, hope you’ve enjoyed this program today. There are more of our programs available at our website wallbuilderslive.com, there’s archive section there, you know, give you some of the programming over the last few weeks and months. And additionally, that is the place to make that contribution. So check out wallbuilderslive.com today to make that one-time or monthly contribution. We certainly appreciate you coming alongside us. Thanks for listening today. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.