KSL Newsradio's Chelsea Hedquist reporting
It's been a horrible couple of weeks for public schools, with fatal shootings in Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Wisconsin. We've also heard stories of teachers sexually abusing their students. It's all got parents questioning the safety of public schools, and taking a closer look at homeschooling.
Six-year-old Jack Blackburn sits at his kitchen playing with his blocks. This is just another part of his school day. He and his brother, Marcus, are homeschooled by their mother, Nikki Blackburn.
"We've been toying with physics lately," said Blackburn. "We've built mouse trap cars, we have been talking about simple machines and how they work."
This learning environment is far removed from the violence we've seen this past week in schools. But Blackburn says her choice to homeschool was about being committed to her children's education, not about safety.
"I really don't think that schools are an unsafe place to be. I don't think they're in any more danger being with me or any safer being with me," Blackburn said.
Still, dramatic events can make parents think twice about sending their children off to school each day. "I will say that when something like these heartbreaking shootings occur, there is a little flash that says 'gee, I'm glad they're at home,'" said Annette Tillemann-Dick, who has homeschooled all of her 10 children in Denver, Colorado, not far from the location of two very prominent school shootings.
Some parents do react to these events by choosing to homeschool their children. "We have seen an increase at times. Certainly after Columbine there was an increase in homeschooling that was noticeable," said Laura Derrick, president of the National Home Education Network.
There is no way to know whether recent events will cause a similar increase in homeschooling. It is a huge commitment to undertake, but for some parents, it might be worth it.