As we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, many public schools have been closed for in-person instruction for nearly a year, thanks in large part to resistance from teachers’ unions.
Meanwhile, children have been falling behind academically, mentally, and physically — and their families have been scrambling to search for education alternatives because of the traditional public school system’s unwillingness, and in some cases inability, to adapt to change.
The past year has exposed one of the main problems with K-12 education in the United States: There is a long-existing massive power imbalance between the public school monopoly and individual families.
Residentially-assigned public schools receive large amounts of children’s education dollars regardless of how well they meet the needs of individual families, and as we’ve witnessed this past year, regardless of whether they even open their doors for business.
It’s one thing for a child’s residentially-assigned public school to continue receiving their education dollars year after year despite failing to meet their needs. But it’s another conversation altogether for that same school to continue to receive a child’s education dollars while their doors are closed. Parents across the country are waking up to the fact that they’re getting the short end of the stick when it comes to K-12 education.
If a grocery store doesn’t reopen, families can take their money elsewhere. Families are realizing that if their child’s school doesn’t reopen, they should similarly be able to take their education dollars elsewhere. In fact, families should be able to take their children’s education dollars elsewhere regardless of their school’s reopening decision. After all, education funding is supposed to be for educating children, not for protecting a particular institution.
There has been a recent surge in support for funding students instead of systems. The latest nationwide survey from RealClear Opinion Research found that support for funding students directly increased by 10 percentage points in just a few months — from 67 percent in April to 77 percent in August 2020 — among parents with children in public schools. Another national survey conducted by Ed Choice found that support for four types of school choice — education savings accounts, tax-credit scholarships, vouchers, and charter schools — all surged between the spring and fall of 2020.