Classroom politicization and bias were top reasons why a Texas parent decided to home-school her kids this school year, the mother of four told Fox News.
"I definitely chose home-schooling for my children because I feel like I'm able to control what they learn, control the speed of which they learn so they learn at a much faster rate, and control outside influences as far as peer pressure, bullying, political agendas," Tara Carter said. "I think that’s a lot of people’s reasons for home-schooling."
The number of Lone Star State students pulled from public schools in favor of home education increased by 40% in spring 2021 compared to the previous year, according to recently released Texas Education Agency data. Many families shifted to home-schooling as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, but Carter believes many parents continued teaching their kids themselves because of disagreements with the curricula.
Parents want control over "who they learn from, and the content of what they are learning," she told Fox News.
The Texas mom pulled three of her kids – a kindergartner and twin first-graders – from public school in favor of home education this school year. She let her ninth grade daughter attend high school with her friends.
"I didn't like some of the things they were learning in public school," Carter said. "There is too much bias."
"I do want them to learn things regarding politics, things on morals, things regarding, you know, our beliefs," she told Fox News. "I'd rather them learn from me or ask me questions than to learn from somebody who I might not agree with."
Carter became particularly concerned when she found out her children were present when their peers were discussing gender identity and sexual orientation on the school bus.
"They were learning … wildly inappropriate sexual things, gender-related things and preferences, and they were coming home and stating things about that," Carter told Fox News. "I was blown away that kindergartners were speaking like that."
"I don't want them to grow up and worry about gender and things like that. They're still babies to me and I want them to stay, you know, my baby kids as long as they can," Carter continued. "They grow up much faster when they're learning things from their peers that are not appropriate for little kids."
More than two-thirds of registered voters opposed gender identity and sexual orientation being taught in elementary school, according to a recent New York Times/Siena poll. But among Democratic voters, 53% supported including gender identity in elementary school curricula.
The topic has become a flashpoint at school board meetings across the country.
"I think that people realize ‘I have the freedom to make those decisions,’" Carter said continued. "That definitely plays a major, major role."
Carter said parents would rather teach their children certain topics then have them learn from "teachers who are more biased and more political."
The Texas Home School Coalition in 2021 received a peak 13,000 inquires about home-school, compared to 3,500 in August 2020. That ticked down to 1,700 last month, but the organization expects to see more parents pull their kids into homeschool out of safety concerns following the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting.
Salvador Ramos shot and killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in May. Although classroom politicization was the primary reason she pulled her kids from public school, Carter said the Uvalde shooting was the final straw.
"It scared me to the point I didn't care if I was qualified" to teach, Carter said. "I was going to pull my kids from public schools to home-school."
The Texas mom said she's seen academic benefits from home-schooling.
Her kindergartner "was not reading at all when we started about a month ago," she told Fox News. "Now she is fully reading."
Numerous peer-reviewed studies have found that home-school students scored higher on standardized tests than their public school peers. And according to the National Home Education Research Institute, home-school students score 15 to 30 percentile points higher.
"In public schools, they can only move as fast as the slowest child," Carter said. "If your child can learn faster, they don't necessarily teach any faster."
Carter said her youngest child is excelling much faster at home than her twins did when they were in public kindergarten. She highlighted her ability to focus on her three children compared to a teacher having to divide time between dozens of students.
"Nobody can love and educate your children as well as you," Carter told Fox News. "You know how they learn, and you know how to love them best."
"When you're in a loving environment, I feel like you flourish," she said.