Opinion: A silver lining in the pandemic schooling cloud: Support for school choice soars


FORT WORTH, Texas — If you’ve been paying attention to the very public and highly contentious debates over school administration, policy, curriculum and academic outcomes, you know we haven’t yet seen all the aftershocks of two years of d pandemic learning.

There has been huge consternation with the educational content – ​​from CRTs to sex education to the books that fill the shelves of school libraries.

There has been exasperation with masking and quarantine policies that have kept healthy children out of school for weeks, demoralized staff and caused immeasurable harm to students.

Fortunately, parents are looking to make changes.

Sometimes it’s through protests and activism. Other times it’s more voter engagement.

But as poll after poll suggests, as they seek change in public school leadership and institutions, parents are also seeking more and better educational options for their children.

And that might be the brightest silver lining of pandemic learning yet.

A new poll released by the American Federation for Children and Invest in Education, and reported by National Review, shows broad and growing support for school choice. And most importantly, it’s across all racial and political demographics.

The survey found that majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents agreed with the sentiment that “parents should be responsible for decisions about their child’s education”.

Support was even higher among black and Hispanic respondents, whose children are more likely to be trapped in poorly performing public institutions.

The poll also found high levels of support for college savings accounts and for the federal tax-credit scholarship program proposed in the Education Freedom Scholarship Act. and currently before Congress. It would allow individuals and businesses to receive a tax credit for donating to nonprofit scholarships that allow parents to send their children to the school of their choice.

The study is hardly an outlier in the post-pandemic era.

Earlier this year, a RealClear Opinion Research survey found similar levels of support for more educational options for parents and students, with just 18% of respondents saying they weren’t backing down on school choice. – well below pre-pandemic levels.

In the National School Choice Week survey, more than half of parents said they were considering changing a child’s school or had considered doing so in the past year.

The main concerns were, unsurprisingly, school quality and disruptions related to COVID-19.

Meanwhile, parents who chose this year to home school their children or send them to a private school are twice as likely to be “very satisfied” with their children’s experiences as parents who send their children children in district schools.

Charters also have high levels of parental satisfaction.

And parents in home schools and private schools report significantly higher academic, emotional, and social development in their children than parents of public school children.

This all makes perfect sense given what the past two years have revealed about the state of public education.

But options such as private, charter, and home schooling aren’t available to many parents.

And private or homeschooling is not financially feasible for many, especially single parents or the economically disadvantaged, at least not without policy changes such as savings accounts or tax credits.

These reforms are possible, particularly because support for more options transcends what usually divides us.

If parents can maintain the momentum that helped them overthrow the school board seats, they may be able to squeeze some good out of two very difficult years for our children.

Fort Worth Star Telegram

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