September 27, 2021
"Their analysis shows that 1.45 million children left traditional public schools. Charter schools gained 237,000 students in the same period. The difference is made up by families choosing private schools or homeschooling...Others became aware, thanks to the proliferation of remote classes, that curriculum taught in public schools did not match their values."
Voting With Their Feet: Parents Taking Their Kids Out of Traditional Public Schools in Astounding Numbers
A new report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools shows what a great advertisement American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten and her more radical members provided for school choice. After more than a year of school closures, Zoom classes, and battles over critical race theory, parents are increasingly taking their children out of public schools. The study looked at enrollment shifts between the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years.
Their analysis shows that 1.45 million children left traditional public schools. Charter schools gained 237,000 students in the same period. The difference is made up by families choosing private schools or homeschooling. The researchers noted that public school enrollment declines began years ago in many cities and states. Some of the loss was due to demographic changes and population decline. However, the pandemic appears to have accelerated the switch to public school alternatives.
The 7% growth experienced in charter schools was the largest seen since 2014. In the states they analyzed, the children moving to charter schools came from every racial and socioeconomic background. Arizona became the first state to have 20% of public school children enrolled in charter schools. Previously, only Washington, D.C., had reached that milestone. In California, public schools saw declines in nearly every racial subgroup, with substantial increases in Asian, Filipino, and Hispanic students transferring to charters.
The researchers say the pandemic was the reason for many of the changes. Some parents they spoke with were looking for an educational setting that fits their family’s pandemic experience. Gem Innovation Schools in Idaho expanded learning options and grade levels to meet the shifting restrictions. As parents shifted between the office and remote work, Gem allowed parents to select online or in-person schooling once a quarter.
Others became aware, thanks to the proliferation of remote classes, that curriculum taught in public schools did not match their values. In Florida, a father of five, Matt Mohler, observed his school-age children struggling with remote work and worried the curriculum would not meet their needs. The new Tallahassee Charter School opened in 2020, and after meeting with school staff, he moved his children there. Mohler shared, “Within the first week, my [then] first grader came home reciting the preamble of the Constitution. And I was blown away at the progress he was making in such a short amount of time.”
The involvement of parents in their children’s education may be the most positive outcome from the pandemic. Parents across the nation are demanding a say in the curriculum taught in their public schools. They are no longer content to leave it to so-called “experts” who seem intent on creating activists instead of skilled workers, innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders.