Parents who don’t want their kids going back to school wearing masks heard about a variety of options Thursday night during a town hall meeting at Milford Senior Center.
The choices included traditional education alternatives, including private and parochial schools, homeschooling, learning pods and even “unschooling.”
The town hall discussion was hosted by the conservative group Patriots for Delaware, which describes itself as a coalition whose members believe in constitutional values and family.
About 30 people attended, including two families with children. Some appeared to be grandparent age.
Gatherings like Thursday’s have been happening with increasing frequency after Gov. Carney and the Division of Public Health announced Aug. 10 that masks would be required in schools for staff and students over the age of 2 to try to slow the spread of the COVID-19, particularly the Delta variant.
The ruling set off protests from parents who believes masks are harmful to their children and believe masks also reinforce an environment of stress and fear.
While masks were the catalyst for the shift away from traditional education methods, the town hall also uncovered a barrage of other complaints parents have against public schools — or “government schools,” as many called them.
Materials provided to attendees featured explanations of critical race theory, LGBTQ+ related definitions, and a lesson plan for children in grades K-5 on the book, “I Am Jazz,” a first-person account of a 6-year-old transgender girl. Organizers say all of these things are being taught in Delaware schools.
“I want an entire history lesson for my kids,” said James Davidson, who organized the event. “I want history — the good, the bad and the ugly — taught. I don’t want one side pushing propaganda on my children.”
Instead of teaching critical race theory, schools should be teaching the Constitution, he said.
He said another reason parents should pull their kids out of public schools is that they let boys into girls’ bathrooms.
“As a high schooler I’m thinking back, what would I be doing?” Davidson said. “How would I be exploiting this? Because, I mean, I was not the perfect kid in school.”
Jason Zerbey, a widowed father of two boys, said he practices a method of home education that he calls unschooling.
According to www.time4learning.com, unschooling is “a style of home education that allows the student’s interests and curiosities to drive the path of learning. Rather than using a defined curriculum, unschoolers trust children to gain knowledge organically.”
That’s fancy speak, Zerbey said, for “just paying attention to your child.”
“I pay attention to their interests, and I feed that,” Zerbey said. “That can be taking them to the library, showing them how to find the books on Minecraft or Pokemon or whatever anime they’re into, or coding.”
He said the goal of unschooling is to teach kids not just how to find their passion, but also how to “be their passion.”
Other speakers plugged private and hybrid academies, online homeschooling curriculums and free lessons on the Constitution.
Attendees were encouraged to run for local school board positions to stop schools from advancing partisan agendas.
“These school boards had no loyalty or fidelity to the people,” said William Garfinkel, a member of Capital School District’s citizen budget oversight committee. “If we had patriots on these school boards, this wouldn’t be happening.”
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