The school year is ending, and Chicago families are preparing for a long summer. The pandemic emphasized the gravity of the digital divide and technological ineffectiveness in the current educational system. Moreover, many families were able to monitor their students’ learning more closely and found that the systems in place in many schools were not challenging enough. One mother opposed her school’s quarantine grading policy, which excused all students for missing assignments. “If I don’t come to work, I don’t get paid. I don’t see how this is helping my kid prepare for real-life”, said the parent of a high school junior.
After over three months of an unsuccessful attempt at remote learning, many school districts are preparing to continue this practice in the Fall, though neither CPS nor ISBE has issued an official statement regarding instructional plans for Fall 2020. This leaves parents with more questions than answers and little time to plan for whatever adjustments may be necessary to support them. One parent communicated her intentions to refrain from enrolling her student in the Fall, fearing the continued spread of COVID-19 coupled with flu season.
A growing number of parents are beginning to consider other options in educating their children, including homeschool. Still, most parents are hoping to return their students to the classroom sooner rather than later.
Parents who may be on the fence about sending their children back in the classroom should know that there are resources available to them if they decide to homeschool. Illinois has minimally restrictive criteria for homeschooling; ISBE lists the subjects’ families should offer and advises families to inform their child’s school before unenrolling to avoid truancy issues. Homeschool registration is voluntary, and students are not required to take any state or district-mandated standardized tests. The state also provides a list of resources families may use to begin the homeschooling process.
The coronavirus has provided Chicago families with a unique opportunity to examine the educational effectiveness of their students. Many families are choosing to take advantage of a new wave of self-empowerment through alternative forms of education.