Homeschooling increases as fewer students enroll in Mississippi public schools

Homeschooling increases as fewer students enrolled in Mississippi public schools

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Fewer students are enrolled in Mississippi public schools compared to last year.

Some have moved or gone to private schools but a new enrollment report also notes a jump in homeschoolers.

Anna Smira considered homeschooling for her only child Andrew in years past.

“What stopped me for so many years was one thing... that is fear,” explained Smira. But as she followed the news of restrictions that would be added when he entered his fifth grade year, she made the decision.

“The final straw was coronavirus,” noted Smira. “The whole wearing a mask all day long. My son has ADHD. So, because of that, I was concerned how is he going to wear a mask and do all the tests all day.”

Andrew was initially hesitant when his mom told him what she was thinking.

“I thought I would miss all my friends and not be able to play,” he said. “I thought that I would not get to play with any friends because half of them are going to be in school but I’ve noticed I’ve got to have a social life in homeschool.”

Both have noticed it’s an option that’s been a good fit for Andrew. “I do much better in homeschool than public school,” he said.

“My child’s confidence went up,” explained Smira. “Also, he’s not having to compare himself to a student whose got all A’s, on honor roll. The only competition is with him. Is he better than he was yesterday? Yes. Is he making progress? Yes.”

Empower Mississippi notes that COVID has shown that parents want to take ownership of their child’s education. And they’re hoping lawmakers take notice.

“I do think the state has to keep up with the demand. It’s clear that parents and families want distance learning options,” said Elyse Marcellino, VP of Education Empower Mississippi. “Giving them a greater variety by including a virtual public school would be one way to meet more needs in Mississippi.”

Marcellino notes that 33 other states have a full-time virtual public school option. Mississippi created a virtual public school several years ago but it’s not a full-time option.

Copyright 2020 WLBT. All rights reserved.