By: Emily Kreps
As a mom here in Pennsylvania, I understand the stress that many parents are feeling and the questions we’re wondering as we approach this school year. Will Governor Wolf close the schools before they even open, or one month into opening? How long will our children have to wear masks? How can we opt them out of wearing masks?
My son was in kindergarten last year at a private Christian school, and when we suddenly had to switch to remote learning, the school responded instantly. They kept up the same academic standards and gave us the tools (videos, lesson plans, etc) that we needed to continue his education. My husband, a stay-at-home dad, was pleasantly surprised to discover that he and my son worked well together as teacher and student. My son even improved greatly from the one-on-one attention and improved his writing and reading skills. Now we know homeschooling could be an option for us.
Not everyone had that same experience. Another friend of mine had a very stressful time with online learning and her 5th grade daughter. There were lots of tears involved. They now know that online learning did not work for them.
Let’s look at the silver lining of all of this. You are being given an opportunity to evaluate and choose what is best for you and your family. Consider your options. Prayerfully discuss the options with your spouse.
I like this meme (you can add “Dad” in there as well!) because it recognizes education is not a one-size-fits-all institution.
Thankfully, here in Pennsylvania, there are many options in addition to public schools whether you’re looking at teaching your children at home or sending them to school.
You don’t need to do it alone! You can do a blend of outside classes and teaching at home, or teach it all yourself. There are co-op programs and support groups. Check out some of these resources:
- Christian Homeschool Association of Pennsylvania (CHAP)
- Pennsylvania Homeschoolers
- Debrabell.com – Dr. Debra Bell joined us for a webinar on “Suddenly Homeschooling” back in April – view it here.
- Scholé – Classical Christian homeschool groups
Cyber and Charter schools
There are at least 150 charter schools in Pennsylvania – with 14 or more being cyber-charter schools. These are public education options. Cyber-schooling can be a good option if you want your child to stay home, but don’t want the stress of lesson planning and teaching. Each cyber charter school is different, so review a few as you seek to make a decision.
- List of 2019-2020 charter schools in Pennsylvania (including cyber charter schools).
- What is a Cyber Charter School?
Many private schools in Pennsylvania are planning on opening in the fall. They are typically smaller than public schools and have more freedom to create educational plans to fit the unique needs of their students.
- Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) – Find a school
- Association of Classical Christian Schools – Find a school
- Keystone Christian Education Association (KCEA)
- Pennsylvania Catholic Conference
Education Scholarship Accounts
New state legislation, introduced by Senator Judy Ward (R-Hollidaysburg) and Representative Clint Owlett (R-Wellsboro), would create “Back on Track” Education Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) to help empower parents in meeting the specific needs of their children this school year. The federal CARES Act designated funding to Pennsylvania for education and these Back on Track ESAs would use this funding to directly help students and parents with education-related needs such as online classes, counseling, tutoring or services for students with special needs. The intent of the legislation is to help low-income families regardless of what school the children attend, whether public, private, charter, cyber or home school.
Take Action: Please contact your State Senator and State Representative (use this action alert to do both!) and let’s empower parents to help students get back on track with their education.
Whatever you choose, and whatever this season holds, we know that God is in control. You and I can trust that he’ll provide what we need and what our children need this year (even if it’s different than what we had planned).
Emily Kreps is Legal Assistant at the Pennsylvania Family Institute.