Sometimes, when you’re in the middle of a big storm, you don’t notice how fast the wind changes. But in the United States, there is a storm that has been accelerating for 30 years.
The first signs appeared when families began “homeschooling,” first considered a “marginal phenomenon” in the 1980s and now the fastest growing form of education in America. In 1983, there were 93,000; in 1997, one million; and in 2019, 2.5 million. By January of this year, that number had doubled and now 4 to 5 million children (7 to 9% of school-age children) are home schooled from kindergarten through 12th grade.
In addition to homeschooling, more and more families are choosing charter schools.
This wave also began in the 1980s, when minority families pulled their children from undisciplined and disorganized schools and placed them in charter schools. In the early 2020s, before the pandemic began, there were over one million students on waiting lists for charter schools in the United States (Charter Schools and their Enemies by Thomas Sowell, 2020).
The overall picture that emerges from these trends over a 30-year period is that parents are losing confidence in the ability of the public school system to educate their children and produce competent citizens. “Parents are at a point where they need more direct involvement and responsibility for what happens to their children. Our way of thinking about child rearing and school management has changed dramatically over the past 100 years. (Dr. Joseph Murphy, Vanderbilt University)
This “big change” also creates a strong momentum in favor of choosing vouchers. Consider this figure: the government spends an average of $14,270 per student per year on public schools with taxpayer funds. Currently, public schools have a monopoly on these funds, meaning they are the sole owners of all aspects of education from kindergarten through high school. The only families who really have a choice in what is taught and what values are passed on are those who are homeschooled, who receive subsidies, who are on a waiting list for a charter school, or who pay for a micro or private school.
Interestingly, the pandemic has accelerated the pace of this 30-year shift away from public education. The prolonged school closures have opened a Pandora’s box, pointing to the lack of control by teachers unions. Unions oppose not only reopening, but also home schooling, charter schools and school choice via vouchers. In some cases, unions have used closures to their own advantage. Last week, Ron Clain, Biden’s chief of staff, when asked why teachers in Chicago would threaten a strike rather than return to face-to-face teaching, replied, “Money. Bingo.
But the efforts of the teachers’ union cannot stop the winds of change that continue to blow. Parents are disappointed with the schools funded by their tax dollars. Data released last week showed that from kindergarten through grade 12, the number of students in California’s public schools fell by 155,000, an all-time low. “In North Carolina, the public homeschool website crashed on the first day of enrollment, with more than 18,800 families applying to run a homeschool for the 2021-22 school year. In Connecticut, the number of people who left public school for homeschooling increased fivefold. In Nebraska, the number of homeschooled children has increased 56%.” (Wall Street Journal, January 31, 2021) Waiting lists for charter schools have doubled, while private schools, 60% of which have been open for full-time classes since the fall, are full.
Parents aren’t waiting for districts to stop negotiating with unions to find out when schools should open. And they don’t expect the failure of the public school system to change. They say, “We’ve really spent a year trying to do what the districts are asking, but we can’t do it anymore. Across the country, they are going out to sea and charting a new course.
Note the way the wind blows.
Connie Pillsbury is a freelance columnist for The and Paso Robles Press; you can email her at [email protected]
Verwendete Quellen: NHERI; Research facts about homeschooling, bad education rips America apart; Covid-19 weekend pandemic pushes more parents to do their best for homeschooling; Supporting Goliath charter schools and their enemies; Teacher of the Year union killed the golden goose Sie können alle Quellen online bei atascaderonews lesen.com/Parents across the country carting a new course: Setting sail from public education
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