J Li's post on watching the transformation of the education industry moving toward homeschooling

If you are not a parent / in a moms group, you may not be aware that a kind of historic thing is going on right now.

This week, there has been a tipping point in Bay Area families looking to form homeschooling pods. Or maybe ‘boiling point’ might be a better term.

Sounds niche? It’s actually insanely involved and completely transformational on a lot of levels.

Essentially, within the span of the last 48 hrs or so, thousands of parents (far and away mostly moms because that’s how these things work :P) are scrambling through an absolute explosion of facebook groups, matchups, spreadsheets, etc to scramble to form homeschooling pods.

These are clusters of 3-6 families with similar aged (and sometimes same-school) children co-quarantined with each other, who hire one tutor for in-person support for their kids. Sometimes the tutor in question is full time and sometimes part time / outdoor classes, depending on the age of kids and individual circumstances.

This means a few things:

  1. Suddenly teachers who are able to co-quarantine with a pod are in incredible demand.

This is maybe the fastest and most intense PURELY GRASSROOTS economic hard pivot I’ve seen, including the rise of the masking industry a few months ago. Startups have nothing compared to thousands of moms on facebook trying to arrange for their kids’ education in a crisis with zero school district support.

I swear that in a decade they are going to study this because I have never seen an industry crop up and adapt so fast. Trends that would typically take months or years to form are developing on the literal scale of hours.

  1. The race and class considerations are COMPLETELY BONKERS. In fact, yesterday everything was about people organizing groups and finding matches-- today the social justice discussion is already tearing these groups apart.

For one thing, we’re looking at a breathtakingly fast acceleration toward a circumstance where educational access and stratification is many times more polarized even than it already is.

Distance learning is hell on all children-- suddenly high income families are going to all supplement it with quarantine pods and private tutoring, and low income families will be stuck with no assistance for 8 yos who are supposed to be on zoom for 5 hrs a day. This is on top of already not having a way to work with children stuck at home, and being more exposed with “essential” jobs.

For another, the most obvious solution to this, ie individual family clusters scholarshipping disadvantaged kids into their pods, doesn’t even work at scale because there is a high correlation between kids who can’t afford tutors and kids in families where strict distancing rules just aren’t an option.

  1. None of us have any idea where this is going to go. All possible actual solutions require government-level intervention beyond what school districts can do, and that’s clearly not going to happen.

I don’t even have a kid the right age, but I’m volunteering in some places around this and the situation is just… a really major story.