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Like one room schoolhouses again

New movement finds parents ‘podding’ kids’ education

podding, parents, kids, school, homeschool

Pod used to be a sci-fi term. Now it’s an organizational tool, and a societal goal: you build pods among close friends, with other families, who all share outside-the-home experiences.

You define procedures that create a safe unit where you feel okay about things like taking one’s mask off. Think in terms of dining outside around a table. Or who gets to come over to your house, as well as whose houses you’ll venture to, or allow your kids to visit.

The Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal recently published a piece by Lindsey Burke on how to organize a pod. It speaks to a growing trend among some to hire teachers outside of the education system to teach their kids more safely than what they’re imagining schools to be once they reopen.


As Laura Meckler and Hannah Natanson of The Washington Post observepandemic pods are “a 2020 version of the one-room schoolhouse, privately funded,” Burke writes. “As one mother named J Li wrote in a viral Facebook post last week, thousands of parents are scrambling’ to form pods through an explosion of Facebook groups, matchups and spreadsheets. Suddenly teachers, who are able to co-quarantine with a pod, are in incredible demand.”.

Parents seeking teachers to direct pods

One pod tutor interview by Meckler and Natanson, Christy Kian from Broward County, Florida, formerly a private-school teacher, said she will earn more this year teaching two families (with four total children) than she did in her prior teaching position. She said as soon as she had set up the arrangement with those two families, she was immediately contacted by five others.


The pods approach is analogous to micro-schooling, which allow small groups of students to work together in flexible learning environments alongside older and younger students, sharing resources and teachers.


Unions will lose their clout because parents need to find new directions

Burke posits that,While union policy demands are leading many district schools to remain closed, podding is reinforcing the old adage that the market finds a way. Understandably, equity and access concerns have arisen as quickly as podding itself.”

She believes that states will have to open up emergency education savings accounts for families, allowing them to take a portion of their child’s public education funds for private tutoring or online options of choice. Freeing up those dollars is the policy reform needed to make access to pods, micro-schools, and cottage classes in reach for all families.  

“It’s time for policy to catch up with families,” the article concludes.

What are the unintended consequences of pods?
The discussion is not over, because faced with all this, parents are panicking. And for parents in our community, home-schooling pods are emerging as the attractive idea.

This world where some families hire their own teachers may seem extreme, but is it that much more extreme than funding schools through property taxes?

Developing pods is a new direction that is part of active discussions on mom’s groups.

But as parents worry about their kids’ safety, there is another consequence of this movement. The school-pods development may put educational inequality in people’s faces in a way that is simply harder to ignore than it might be otherwise.

The pods become active learning sources for those who can afford it. Maybe best used by parents living closely within a community. But what about those who cannot afford this alternative? Or for parents living in cities who cannot commute to a pod group? This new direction creates inequity and inequality. We, as a county, will lose many bright kids, who if nurtured, would be an artist, an engineer, or the leader of our country.  

What do we do with this anger we feel?

I know that many of us are angry at the virus and our government’s inability to find a safe space for our kids. But author Emily Oster suggests that we hold on to our anger and later see if we can use our frustrations to encourage major reforms in learning.

Parents, who have had their kids home for at least three months, have developed their own individual learning resources. Especially since our schools were not prepared for this immediate shutdown. How can we use what we have learned while being home to reform learning?

Also, parents should look at what schools are proposing for the fall. Have schools used creative inspiration to offer unique directions for the fall that we can use once this pandemic is over?

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