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Why more Texas parents are turning to homeschooling options

The Texas Homeschool Coalition anticipates potentially record numbers as families enroll their children in alternative learning programs amid the delta surge.

SAN ANTONIO — The coronavirus pandemic has prompted an increasing number of American families to abandon the traditional public-school system in favor of home schooling their children.

Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau indicates homeschooling more than doubled across the nation, rising from 5% in 2019 to 11.1% in fall of 2020.

Texas’s home schooling numbers displayed a more dramatic increase, going from 4.5% in spring of 2020 to 12.3% in the fall that same year.

Virtual learning became the nationwide norm due to the looming threat of the coronavirus.

For San Antonio mother Clara-Nicole Sustaita, the decision to withdraw her children from public school revolved around her criticisms about what is taught and not taught.  

“Them being virtual for so long and staring at a computer all day was it for me,” Sustaita said. “I feel that our school system, they’re teaching the kids to test again versus what their strengths are.”

Sustaita has researched several curriculums and held conversations with families and teachers who are experienced in the field of home schooling. 

She eventually opted in for a Christian-based curriculum called Easy Peasy, which offers education programs for K to 12-aged children.  

“My decision was based wholeheartedly on what is being taught to my kids and what do I want them exposed to and not exposed (to)," she said. "And how I want their days spent around teachers who are teaching to a test or bringing in their own agendas or things like that."

Jeremy Newman, director of public policy for Texas Homeschool Coalition, noted the organization has been fielding a record number of calls from people inquiring about available options for their children.

“They want something that’s stable and flexible and homeschooling offers that,” Newman said.

He noted parents’ fear of the unknown with this latest wave of infections, remains another prominent reason for parents to reconsider traditional learning. 

This comes as communities across Texas are entangled in legal battles regarding mask mandates for school districts amid climbing coronavirus cases.  

“The big question everyone’s had was how many of those people who started homeschooling last fall are going to continue homeschooling this year and I can tell you anecdotally, almost all of them that we’ve talked to,” Newman said.

As for Sustaita, she’s looking forward to the first day of school on Sept. 14. 

“My kids are still getting a very good education and I’ll be grading them, keeping all the proper paperwork," she said. "And since my daughter is my only senior, she is automatically now the valedictorian."

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