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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

DIY schooling leaves home: Microschools, co-ops, hybrids, pods ...

When schools went remote, many parents took charge of their children's education, and learned how to find online and community resources, and collaborate with other parents.


Prenda microschool in Glendale, Arizona.

The "new world of homeschooling" is a blur of pods, co-ops, micro, hybrid and private schools, Laura Meckler in the Washington Post. It's not just mom and the kids working together at the kitchen table. "For a growing number of students, education now exists somewhere on a continuum between school and home, in person and online, professional and amateurs, real-time and recorded virtual instruction."


Educational savings accounts and other state funding makes it much easier for parents to afford to pay for a mix of services to supplement -- or replace -- home-based instruction.


She quotes educators who warn that we don't know how much children are learning or what they're learning. Like homeschooling parents, many school and pod leaders aren't certified teachers. Some of the new models include testing. Others don't. Parents decide.


Microschools, usually with less than 30 students, are booming, reports Jackie Valley in the Christian Science Monitor. They may be "Montessori-inspired, nature-focused, project-based, faith-oriented, child-led" -- or something else. They may be independent, partnerships or affiliated with provider networks, says the year-old National Microschooling Center, based in Las Vegas.

“For lots of people, schools just got too big,” says Michael McShane, director of national research at EdChoice. “They felt like they were a number. They did not feel like they knew the other people in their community.”

Researchers estimate that 1.1 million to 2.1 million of school-age children are in microschools, writes Valley. "On the low end, that would mean microschools serve an estimated 2 percent of school-age children." That could grow to as much as 10 percent, predicts Don Soifer, who runs the NMC.


Half of founders are professional educators. Only 27 percent have a religious focus.


Nearly 9 in 10 microschools rely on tuition as their primary source of funding; 18 percent also receive government funding through school choice programs.


Public school districts are providing options too, writes Chad Aldeman, who focuses on hybrid homeschooling in Alaska. Mat-Su Central is a public K-12 school in Wasilla that offers virtual and hybrid classes, he writes on The 74.


"Every student has an individual learning plan that teachers, parents and students build together," he writes. "Some families opt for fully virtual classes, akin to private homeschooling but with the guidance and oversight of Mat-Su teachers. Other students want more in-person interaction, and they can take up to two classes at their local public school, enroll in college courses, attend classes on site or participate in local community programs."


Families get allotments of $2,600 to $3,000 per student to pay for instruction, educational services, community programs and/or a computer and monthly internet service. The school controls the money and provides quality control.

Parent-directed schooling isn't going to fade away. Traditional public schools will have to find ways to partner with parents or lose them. Educators who want to save the public school system will look at Mat-Su Central for lessons. Those with a suicide wish will tell parents: We know what's best for your children, you cissy bigot and probable child abuser. Did you remember to bring the quinoa muffins for the PTA fund raiser? No?

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