Sept. 15, 2021

322: Why Have Over 5 Million Kids Left Public Schools?-with Kerry McDonald

Government mandates and the long-term harm done to behavioral development of kids might have something to do with it.


Government mandates and the long-term harm done to behavioral development of kids might have something to do with it.

 

As a matter of fact, that's exactly right, according to today's guest!

 

And that's why Kerry McDonald joins the program today to help raise awareness to the impact of these restrictions and their long-term implications on children.

 

 

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Transcript

Brian  
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Unknown Speaker  
It's great to be with you, Brian. Thanks so much for having me. Absolutely. Carrie,

Brian  
thank you so much for joining us here in the program. I know we had you scheduled a couple of weeks back but you like millions of other Americans, you got hit in your household with the dreaded Coronavirus. But thankfully, it didn't hit you too hard. Because as we were talking beforehand, it was mostly your kids and your kids. They fought right through it as are the millions of other kids with it. And this is why we need to have this conversation today. Because the numbers of folks out there who are at an all time level 10 intensity paranoia level that the kids are going to be dying in mass I'm seeing on social media, I can almost guarantee you're seeing as our the the, you know, 1000s of folks who are listening with us today. So let's talk to you know, some of those folks out there who they're trying to combat the hysteria carry. But first, before we go there, let's introduce yourself to The Brian Nichols Show audience they can see here on the YouTube channel. You're a senior fellow at Fie, but also what kind of what got you specifically looking at these issues as it pertains not just to The parental rights but the rights of the kids themselves, Gary?

Unknown Speaker  
Yeah. Greg, again, great to be with you, Brian. I'm a senior education fellow at the foundation for Economic Education fi.org, which is the country's oldest libertarian think tank founded in 1946. celebrating our 75th year anniversary this year, I'm also an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute. And I write frequently at Forbes on education policy issues. And I'm the author most recently of the book unschooled, raising curious, well educated children outside the conventional classroom that was published in 2019. That's actually gained quite a bit of interest and popularity over the past year and a half, as so many families have been really looking for other education options beyond their assigned government school, in the wake of school shutdowns and various pandemic policies that continue to really make an impact on school even this year, when we thought that things were sort of calming down and schools were reopening for full time in person learning. It's these mask wars, and now new vaccine mandates for students that I think we'll talk about, are really having parents think differently about how their kids are educated. Yeah.

Brian  
And you know, it's funny, Carrie, I'm hearing it from a lot of people who they got their first vaccine. And well, I say, the first time they got they got the vaccinated in the first kind of like round of people, when they started to have a uptick in vaccinations. And the really the mentality as I've been having a conversation with them has been, I kind of thought I was gonna get my life back. I thought that with the vaccine, that would kind of be the gateway into some normality, because at that point, now I am protected with the vaccine. And then you know, I can make the choice that you're seeing right now, even the Delta variant, even if you do get one of those breakthrough cases, your chance of having some type of catastrophic outcome or just you have the absolute minutiae. So it's, it's one of those situations where if you, you've had the chance to get vaccinated, you have that opportunity, and you likely have if you've not gotten vaccinated, you're probably not going to so we see right now. Oh, I say we even saw back then that was kind of the turning point, I thought, Okay, this is the moment we can kind of go back to some type of real life. And now we see, wow, that's not the case. And I'm seeing a lot of people who to the point you were saying before, they were kind of okay with it, well, we're gonna be protecting, you know, the kids were being rational. But now, things aren't making sense. We're seeing the hysteria just start to blow out of proportion. So let's start off with, you know, probably the most draconian approach that we've seen. And that is LA, the largest school district in the United States requiring how old kids to get vaccinated if they want go to school carry.

Unknown Speaker  
Yeah, the vaccine is currently approved only for kids 12 and older, and LA is the country's second largest school district, but the first major school district to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for all eligible students at this point, ages 12 and older. And this happened last Thursday, the school board voted unanimously, one board member, recused himself because he's a Pfizer board member. But other than that, the entire school board voted to implement this coercion on what amounts to about 460,000 students. There's about 600,000 in the overall district 460,012 and older that are now mandated to get this vaccine, they have to do that by the end of the calendar year, or participate in district run remote schooling, if they participate in sports or other extracurricular activities the students have until the end of October to be fully vaccinated. And you know, one of the things I mentioned that, you know, you have here on the screen, my most recent fi.org article about this topic, you know, one of the things thankfully, that's been really I think a saving grace with COVID is that it largely spares children. And I didn't speak to that, as you mentioned, from personal experience by son brought COVID home from summer camp this summer, and it had hit my four kids, and was, you know, honestly the most mild thing that I think they've ever had, they had like a 99 degree fever and a headache for 24 hours. So So, you know, in the realm of colds and viruses that they've had in their childhood, this was, you know, really probably the most mild one that they've ever had, thankfully, and that's true for the vast majority of kids. In fact, Professor Marty mcherry at Johns Hopkins University has done research showing that, you know, of the very small number of young people have children who died of COVID and 2020. Most of them I think all of them, he said, had significant underlying conditions. So zero healthy children. According to Marty carry, this was written up in the Wall Street Journal a couple of months ago, zero healthy children died from COVID last year in his sample, and even kids who had asthma or other, you know, conditions that might typically make a respiratory illness problematic. Thankfully, we're not impacted heavily by COVID. So really, you know, he said that the kids that died, you know, had things like leukemia, or, you know, significant congenital, underlying conditions that exacerbated their condition. And even then, you know, data show that the seasonal flu killed more children in 2020, then COVID. So any death of a child is, of course, tragic. But when we're looking at these policies, we're not mandating the flu vaccine in most school districts, and yet, it seems that it's now reasonable for these school districts to propose coercing parents to give their kids the COVID vaccine. And certainly parents are outraged. Many, rightfully so many parents are speaking out against this and saying that, that the data just don't support the coercion underlying these mandates. In fact, one of the things that I mentioned in this feed org org article about the Los Angeles schools mandating the the vaccine is this came at the same time that a new medical preprint study in the US came out last week, showing that

Unknown Speaker  
children, especially young boys are six times more likely to end up with a cardiac adverse event such as my carditis, from the vaccine, the COVID vaccine, then are to be hospitalized for a natural infection with COVID. So six times more likely. And it's just and of course, both, thankfully, are extremely rare. But if we're again, comparing risks and benefits, it's more likely, particularly for young boys, that they would have an adverse reaction from the vaccine than they would being hospitalized with COVID. And I think this is what a lot of medical professionals physicians are pointing out. So last week, scientific advisory board in the UK came out recommending against vaccination of children 12 and older saying that, again, the benefits don't outweigh the risks. And they pointed out that they were concerned with some of these minor carditis and cardiac adverse events that were occurring in young children.

Brian  
Wow. Well, and this is the thing I think we hear a lot from the the folks who are scared is that will carry we just don't, we just don't know. And yet, there are things we can look at and say, Well, listen, your fears of the unknown we have fears of the known and the fears we're having right now are the direct impact of number one, these lockdowns but number two, just the restrictive mandates and regulations you're putting on kids, what is this going to do to kids right now we're seeing depression rates skyrocket, and we have substance abuse skyrocketing. And not even mentioning the the behavioral aspects of kids trying to learn you know, just looking at faces smiling, you know, small children there's so much right now that's that's holding them back in this society. And what are we going to see right now from that direct negative consequence? And I think we're starting to have a lot of parents say enough like, we might be my kids. They're not a thing to be toyed around with you can't just put their lives on pause. We can't do that. And to your point, this we're not mandating vaccinations for normal flu for kids, despite it actually ending up killing more kids. I mean, that's that's mind blowing. That that's the actual stat and yet here we are having this conversation. I I'm scared sometimes. Because I think how can we have something's just so so obvious, just so you just plainly obvious that the the hype, the hyperness that's been focused on just getting people scared, like almost a fear porn of sorts, that that has been the driving narrative, and there are so many people who buy this narrative, hook, line and sinker. What are we missing with these folks?

Unknown Speaker  
Yeah, I mean, I think you bring up a couple of really good points. The first really is that the government response to the Coronavirus will shape this young generation in profound ways. I think in a lot of negative ways, and we won't we won't really see the full implication of these lockdown policies. socialized was isolation, the mask wearing and so on, on these kids, you know potentially for decades, we're starting to see as you suggest that mental health has deteriorated, particularly in studies that came out in 2020, showing that during the various rounds of lockdowns, suicidal ideation went up dramatically that hospital admissions for suicidal ideation were increasing at a rapid rate higher than previous years when they were already increasing prior to the pandemic. And this just exacerbated it. And overall, just feelings of anxiety, depression, anything that would really have resolved from being disconnected from our social networks, from the people, places and things around us. This was certainly felt by adults as well, but had, but really had, I think, a profound profound impact on kids who really bore the brunt of these lockdown policies, despite again, thankfully not being seriously harmed generally from COVID. And, you know, it's really heartbreaking to think about this, some of it, of course, you know, we can attribute to school closures that separated kids from their communities. But I think it wasn't really so much the fact that kids weren't in school, it's that they were completely disconnected from their peers, they weren't able to interact with their friends, they weren't able to do fun things together, participate in sports and extracurricular activities or go to public places. So it's really that kind of impact, that sort of separation from their larger communities, but I think has really led to this problem. And now, you know, we see this continuing into this fall with mandatory mask wearing in many school districts across the country. Babies now, you know, young, young, not so much babies, but young children, masking, I think, you know, ages two and up. And in fact, one of the things that I thought was, you know, just most sort of indicative, I suppose, of the constantly changing narrative from these quote, unquote, experts came from the American Academy of Pediatrics that came out basically saying, well, it's okay that young children don't see facial expressions, they don't really need to that's sort of overrated. And of course, as any parent knows, you know, this is how children learn how young children build those kinds of social connections, build relationships, kind of become more familiar with the world around them is through these nonverbal cues that they're now being distanced from. And so you know, there's just so much that we've done to children we've done to teenagers and young adults. And I think, again, we won't really see the true impact of these policies for another decade or two.

Brian  
I don't mean to be that guy. But we have to look at the headlines here. Because we're recording on Monday, this episode's gonna be airing on Wednesday. And the headlines today were the generation and I would say we're gonna be the older kids, right? The kids in college. What were they chanting this past weekend? Not all these college football games, f Joe Biden everywhere. And it struck me you're hearing these just ginormous 100,000 plus stadiums of Jen's ears. Just chanting f Joe Biden in you pretty much unanimously. And it's it's pretty, it's pretty loud. I mean, here, you're you're it's actually kind of shocking. And I'm, I'm actually like, kind of inspired, if I can say that, because I didn't expect that from Gen Z. I honestly didn't, especially with it being a democrat president. But I think and I said this to one of my employees, because he had asked me because he knows I'm, you know, pretty into the loop with stuff he's like, asked, he's getting nervous about seeing all these restrictions starting to come back into place. And he's like, do you think they'll lock down again, Brian? I said, No, what dammit, no, I hope they do. And he's like, what I was like, cuz you need to get mad, like, you need to see the pain and feel the pain and actually act on it. It can't just be enough for you to be annoyed. You have to actually, like, get angry. And seeing this past weekend. And I think this is in direct response to how a lot of colleges I just had last week, Trent ortner they're doing a big protest with young Americans for liberty and students for liberty back actually coming up here in October, October 11. I believe it's the national wide day of protest against all these crazy mandates that colleges are going to be doing to these kids but not giving you Wi Fi if you're not vaccinated now is an actual story of like, what these colleges are going to be doing. So I think you're starting to see a lot of people pushing back and let's now bring that down to the the you know, high school, middle school, elementary school. level, we saw this past year, I would say some of the largest numbers of parents getting their kids out of the monopoly of the public schooling system and saying, You know what? No, we're gonna start either a just finding other solutions or be supporting, you know, funding students and not systems, the school choice mentality, looking at people, you know, really Cory de Angeles has been doing so well. So that is inspiring. Let's talk about that, though. Carrie, what has been in your your world and you're talking to parents in such the direct reason for them lying to bring their kids out of schools? And then what are they doing in response to you they have my school, where are they now going in return? Right.

Unknown Speaker  
So a couple of things. First, I'll respond to your note about college football games, it's encouraging to hear college students finally finding their voice and pushing back against these policies. I think you're right that some of it has to do with the vaccination policies on campus. But a lot of is that these caught many of these colleges have just gone so far beyond any kind of reasonable pandemic control measures, that students are finally waking up and saying, this makes absolutely no sense. I mean, I think of, for example, Amherst College out in western Massachusetts, not only do they require mandatory vaccination for all students and staff, but they were also coming out saying you had to be fully masked, you had to be social distance, there was no cafeteria time, there were no opportunities for kind of in person socialization. And I think a lot of kids are just saying, Come on, you know, we've jumped through all of your hoops enough is enough now. So it is encouraging again, to hear that maybe the tide is turning and that college students can lead some of these protests. That's good to hear. And I think it's a good sign. You know, that maybe college students can kind of reclaim liberty and and start to realize that government has overstepped its bounds far overstep its bounds over the past 18 months. And it's up to kind of this rising generation to begin to appreciate the ideals of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and prosperity. So that is encouraging. Now in terms of K to 12, which is sort of my area of focus. In education, there really has been a mass exodus from government schools over the past year, nationwide, public school districts lost 3% on average of their student body that was either families switching over to private schools or parochial schools that were more likely to reopen for full time in person learning then government schools were or they switched over to homeschooling, or they delayed school entry for young kids. What we saw really was that homeschooling doubled. According to the most recent US Census Bureau data that came out in February, homeschooling doubled in 20, alone, to now more than 5 million students, or more than 11% of the overall us K to 12 school age population being homeschooled, and the largest driver of that homeschooling growth last year came from black homeschooling families that experienced a fivefold increase in homeschooling numbers in 2020, and are now over represented in the national homeschooling population, compared to the representation in the public school student body. So

Brian  
hey, Carrie, I'm so sorry, I have to interrupt because rewind about three, three to three years ago, I forget, I got into a, I wouldn't say an argument, a very passionate discussion. Let's say that with a very dear friend, and they work in the public schooling system. And they were, you know, appalled that I would support school choice. And one of the main reasons was because Brian, it's racist. And oh my god, like the fact that that number five times that's it's huge care and the fact that there now that you have black Americans now over representing Yeah, versus there, that's phenomenal, because that completely destroys that argument and shows when it comes to actually like looking at where the students are going to be getting the most value parents know best, and they're taking advantage of it. I didn't mean to interrupt please sorry, continue. It's

Unknown Speaker  
absolutely true. So now in though in the US homeschooling population, more than 16% of the US homeschool population identifies as black and that compares to about 15% in the K to 12 public school population so over represented, and overall the the the current homeschooling population is really reflective of the overall US population demographically, geographically. socioeconomically ideologically. It's as diverse in the homeschooling population as our kind of larger American population is so, so much growth there. And you're absolutely right that in addition to this growth in homeschooling, and looking at private education options, and the kind of Exodus from government schools, there's been growing parental support and taxpayer support for school choice policies. In fact, the record high numbers, according to the most recent real clear opinion, research, polling, showing more than 70% of taxpayers support school funding following the child, instead of funding these bureaucratic school systems that have just not at all met, parents need certainly over the last 18 months. So you know, in that way, I think that there are some silver linings, I'll say another silver lining in the way of education that I think has come to light over the past 18 months is the tremendous growth in education, entrepreneurship. So as parents really, I think, got a close up look through district zoom schooling back in the spring of 2020, what was happening in their kids schools, and a lot of what they saw they didn't like, they started to realize that there might be other ways their kids can be educated. And we saw the rise of pandemic pods or these learning pods that kind of sprouted and 2020. And it was a, you know, really take off of the kind of micro school movement that had been gaining traction prior to the pandemic. And that has continued to accelerate over the past year and a half. And a lot of companies have begun to sprout to support that model. So for example, I think of a company called get schoolhouse comm that connects families that want to create this kind of multi family multi age, learning pod or home based micro school for their kids. And they'll connect those families with a certified t shirt to lead these pods. And they just raised over $8 million in venture capital funding as a startup in April of this year. So there's, you know, I think a lot of growth I just wrote recently at Forbes, last week about another company called Chi pod learning, which is based here in Boston where I am, they're currently participating in the prestigious Y Combinator startup accelerator program. So they're on path to receive some really great startup funding. And they do the same kind of thing of bringing kids together in these multi age spaces, physical spaces to learn together and have adults facilitating, but in, you know, a kind of private, affordable, out of school learning model,

Brian  
I was writing down notes, because that 70% number, we have to really focus on that. Because if 70% of parents support funding students, not systems. And we see that this educational entrepreneurship, which I love that term, by the way, that that is a growing area, that it just really reinforces the idea of why candidly, we're doing what we're doing here in the program, and that is solutions based sales, it wins. And the reason that wins is because instead of having to convince people that your ideas are right, you just simply show them the outcomes, you say, look at what we're doing. Do you want to take part in this? Do you want to have the opportunity to have your kid have the best education possible? And every parent's going to say, of course, and instead of saying, Well, okay, do you want to support your school here in the public schooling mentality, and your support your teachers, instead, now we're just giving the parents the power to go ahead and make sure that money is following their students directly. That's a different argument. It's and it's not even an argument at that point. Now, it's just a matter of saying, This just makes sense. And the best type of sales carry, this is why, you know, I again, wanted to make sure we did this type of approach in the show, the best type of sales is when you don't even feel you're being sold to you just feel that the person you're talking to is helping you along the journey. And really, it just makes sense that and that's the end of the day. It just makes sense. So let's do this as we go towards the tail end of the conversation. I want to give you the final platform. Carrie, what would you want folks to take away from the conversation today as it pertains and not just looking at funding students and systems but truly looking at the impact of the kids? As from what the past year and a half plus going into question mark into the future? What should we be taking away here?

Unknown Speaker  
Yeah, a couple things. I'll just respond to what you were just mentioning earlier about the, again, the growth in support for school choice policies. We've seen many states over the past year, implement or expand various school ports to school choice policies at the state level. And I think it really makes a lot of sense, because edchoice has done some really great surveying, for example on what parents want from their child's education. They found that while about 80% of kids attend an assigned government school, only about a third of their parents would prefer them there. So there is this enormous choice gap between where kids are currently being educated, and what their parents actually want and prefer for their education. And I think a lot of education entrepreneurs are recognizing this gap, and are rising to the challenge to meet that demand for schooling alternatives, and other kinds of innovative learning models. So I'm really excited about that. I really think that this could be a transformational moment in American education, where more and more families realize they have other options that are accessible, that are affordable, beyond an assigned district school and they are increasingly opting out of those government schools, you know, go back to kind of what we're talking about at the beginning of the show, Los Angeles, implementing their vaccine mandate, interestingly enough, California had last year and overall statewide exodus from district schools of 3%, right around the national average. But Los Angeles public schools have the largest state's largest exodus from their district schools last year 4.8% decline in public school enrollment. And so I think now that you're seeing this vaccine mandate for COVID come in for LA students. It will be interesting to see how many more parents will flee that system.

Brian  
Carrie McDonald, the book is unschooled raising curious, well educated children outside the conventional classroom, you can go ahead and find it over on Amazon, we'll make sure we include that link in the show notes. And folks, of course, go ahead just click the little podcast artwork. It brings you right to The Brian Nichols Show website. Not only can you find today's episode with the show notes, but the entire transcript of the episode as well as carries bio along with all her links as well. That being said, Carrie McDonald, thank you for joining us on today's episode, The Brian Nichols Show.

Unknown Speaker  
Thanks again, Brian. Appreciate it.

Brian  
Trust the experts. We're all in this together. If it saves one life, raise your hand if you've heard any of those tiresome phrases over the past year and a half. I know my hand is currently raised millions of people across dozens of industries are labeled on essential and forced the lockdown with livelihoods and futures crushed in an instant and as government has continued to expand its power and leverage fear to turn neighbor against neighbor a group of filmmakers have taken a stand and are determined to help set the record straight on the importance of following the actual science of the pandemic follow the science on lockdowns in Liberty from the sound mind 3d group is a brand new docu series highlighting the stories of those negatively impacted over the past year and a half by ineffective government policies enacted in the name of following the science with noted experts like Nick Hudson from panda the pandemic data analytics organization healthcare policy advisors like Scott Atlas and telling stories of business owners families and just your average everyday person harmed by these government mandates follow the science on lockdowns in Liberty is giving us a chance to make sure the true stories of the pandemic are told. So please help us at The Brian Nichols Show in supporting the sound mind creative group with noted figures in the Liberty movement like Dr. Tom Woods donating 1000s of their own dollars to this project. You know just how important this project is. So head The Brian Nichols show.com forward slash follow the science to donate and catch their brand new trailers the docu series one more time. That's Brian Nichols. show.com for slash follow the science. Alrighty, thumps that's gonna wrap up our conversation with Carrie McDonald dojo is a good one. So do me a favor, make sure you go ahead and share today's episode. And when you do, make sure you give Kerry a tag and also please be sure to give yours truly a tag as well at the Nichols liberty, other than that being said, folks, that's all I have for you today. Coming up here tomorrow on Thursday, Jeremy Todd returns to the program. Another sales solo short with you the audience of make sure you strap in you're going to class folks. With that being said, thanks for joining us here on today's Brian Nichols Show. It's Brian co signing off for Carrie McDonald. We'll see you tomorrow. Thanks for listening to The Brian Nichols Show. Fun more episodes at The Brian Nichols show.com if you enjoyed today's episode, don't forget to subscribe. Want to help us reach more people? Give the show a five star review and tell your friends to subscribe to find us at Brian Nichols show.com and download the show on Apple podcast, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. Follow me on social media at V. Nichols liberty and consider donating to the show at The Brian Nichols show.com forward slash support. The Brian Nichols Show is supported by viewers like you. Thank you to our patrons Darryl Smith, Maura Stanley, Mike olema, Michel Mankiewicz, Cody John's friend Acosta and the we're libertarians network. audio production for The Brian Nichols Show is brought to you by DB podcast audio Learn more by emailing inquiries to Wm at dB pod audio.com

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Kerry McDonald

Senior Fellow

Kerry McDonald is a Senior Education Fellow at the Foundation for Economic Education and author of Unschooled: Raising Curious, Well-Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom (Chicago Review Press, 2019). She is also an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute and a regular Forbes contributor. Kerry's research interests include homeschooling and alternatives to school, self-directed learning, education entrepreneurship, parent empowerment, school choice, and family and child policy. Her articles have appeared at The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, NPR, Education Next, Reason Magazine, City Journal, and Entrepreneur, among others. She has a master’s degree in education policy from Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Bowdoin College. Kerry lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her husband and four children.