Parents Are Pulling Kids Out of Public Schools
All indications are that this trickle could turn into a flood now that parents know what’s going on in their children’s education.
A recent study released from the National Centers for Education Statistics revealed that public schools have been experiencing a decrease in enrollment. Almost 4% of students were pulled out of public schools in the 2020-2021 school year. This was especially evident in the younger grades. According to the report, “Preschool enrollment dropped by 22 percent, and enrollment of kindergarteners fell by 9 percent.”
In Oakland, California, the enrollment drop has been so devastating that public schools in the area have been forced to close their doors or merge with other area schools to keep the city budget balanced. There are simply not enough students to fill the seats. Oakland is a bellwether for other urban school districts around the country. As Marguerite Roza, director of Georgetown University’s Edunomics Lab, emphasized: “Normally, we would think a school district that lost 1% of its kids a year would be a seismic shift. This is so much greater than that in many urban areas.”
The City of Oakland acknowledges lower birth rates, lack of affordable housing, and the pandemic as reasons for the enrollment decline. But that’s only part of the story.
Yes, the pandemic has been a defining issue for parents who have seen firsthand what teachers have been filling their children’s heads with. It’s not merely Critical Race Theory, though that’s bad enough. It’s not just gender ideology, either. It is a pervasive, incessant attack on parents and family values.
Then you add in the academics (or lack thereof).
Children were suffered to learn virtually. For a very small number, this was a good route for their academic success. For the vast majority, though, it encouraged every sort of poor student behavior and, as a result, grades plummeted.
Now schools are changing standards and ways of grading and assessing to reflect where the students are instead of holding both students and teachers accountable for criteria that they should meet in order to be prepared for college and the post-school world. Baltimore infamously revealed that 77% of its graduating class couldn’t read above a kindergarten level. To put this in perspective, that’s the equivalent of only being able to read three-letter, short-vowel words. Basically illiterate. This all obviously cannot be attributed to the pandemic, but the pandemic had devastating results on academic gains.
I myself was lucky enough to teach in a school that opened its doors in the fall of 2020. We didn’t mask after the first month. The students who came to my classroom from the public schools (aged 8-10) had lost significant ground in their academics. My second graders weren’t reading. My third graders couldn’t solve double-digit addition and subtraction problems or had no solid understanding of multiplication. That was from only missing the last three months of school to virtual learning.
When you take into account the two years of masking that some students have had to endure (this is especially detrimental to early readers and writers), as well as the social restrictions we have put on our older students, it’s a cocktail for despair and failure.
We have seen parents rise up all across the nation, from changing the tide in the Virginia gubernatorial race to the most recent ousting of three San Francisco school board members. Parents both left and right are done with the indoctrination.
This trickle out of public schools is probably a good thing, especially if the schools are adhering to the policies that were crippling student learning in the first place. To get the message even more plainly across to these woke oligarchs and teachers unions, the trickle needs to become a flood hitting them hard in the pocketbook.
But what about the children left behind to the tender mercies of a woke public school education? These children are most likely already disadvantaged and/or have uninterested parents. Do the ends justify the means if it follows that their educational, social, and emotional well-beings are sacrificed? No. And yet, there is not a solution that is immediately apparent.
I don’t have a perfect answer. Part of the formula is providing school choice. Another part is refusing to let public schools lower the standards of excellence. The last part is a call to teachers of integrity to go and change lives for the better as they were called to do (this is an uphill battle in a woke school, but not a hopeless one). Many teachers are doing just that, though they will rarely make the news. And even if they do, it’s in a pejorative sense for standing against leftist policy.
It will be interesting to see how this flow of students out of public schools will impact policy. Hopefully, it will change public schooling for the better.
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