Campus violence spurs more conversation about home school in Texas, leader says

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One family told Eyewitness News the rash of school violence in America has only reinforced their decision to home school. (KTRK)

The safety conversation goes beyond school building walls and into the homes of many families.

Did you know Texas leads the nation in the number of families who home school? That's according to the Texas Home School Coalition Association.

For many families, like the Stidhums on the northwest side, their choice to home school is reinforced after recent school shootings.

Erica Stidham, a local leader of a home schooling co-op, says school safety in increasingly becoming a big part of the home schooling conversation.

Erica is a former public school teacher and says it's incredibly hard for students to learn, especially if they have pre-existing anxiety while dealing with drills and safety concerns.

She says initially it wasn't one of her top five reasons to home school when she began nine years ago, but today it's become more of a topic of discussion among parents.

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Heather Gaton says she is considering home schooling for her daughter, Wren, when she reaches school age.

She also wants her children to learn about safety.

"I'm not home schooling them to keep them sheltered from the world. We go to the grocery, the movies, the church and things happen in those places, too," Erica said. "I talk to them about how to be safe, how to keep watch of their environment, how to listen and obey immediately."

Erica says she doesn't believe any family should make the decision to home school out of fear. It's a big commitment and a good fit for some families.

Parents are also choosing home schooling for their children as a means of getting their student more one-on-one attention and a customized curriculum, Erica said.

Heather Gaton says while her two-and-a-half year old daughter Wren isn't at school age yet, concerns about school safety are becoming synonymous with her.

"For us, it has now become a big reason, bullying, too," Heather said. "Columbine happened when I was in high school and I was a senior. I never in my high school career went through any kind of drills."

After almost a decade at home, Erica suggests parents look at what's best for their child.

For this mom who may follow in her footsteps, she hopes whatever her decision, this culture of concern changes.

"I feel like we're on the cusp of something different. It doesn't seem like this is how we're going to live for the rest of her life, I sure hope not," Heather said. "If the kids are going to lead the change, that's great, she'll be a part of that."
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