Pandemic reveals dad and mom need extra selection of their little one’s training
The pandemic has revealed something that many of us have long believed in: Parents want more choice and more voice in their child’s education.
A new poll released last week shows public support for school choice and more school options is growing amid the pandemic. EdChoice, which conducts its Schooling in America survey each spring, conducted a second survey this fall to see how the pandemic has changed perceptions and attitudes about education in the United States. The survey was conducted between September 30th and October 20th.
At a time when many schools have closed for face-to-face tuition and switched to distance learning, parents say they want more opportunities for their children. In EdChoice’s fall poll, 81% public support for Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) was recorded. This is the highest level ever recorded in the eight years the organization has surveyed public order. Less than one in five American parents spoke out against the idea. Support and opposition to school voucher programs also hit all-time highs in the fall survey, and tax credit grants received 78% public support.
Interestingly, the survey shows that support for homeschooling is increasing. More than half of parents (55%) said they had a more favorable opinion about homeschooling due to the pandemic. This number represents an increase of 12 percentage points over the organisation’s spring survey. The results also show that home-schooled students are less stressed than their peers who attend public district schools, charter schools, or private schools.
Another educational innovation that is gaining momentum in families during the pandemic is learning from pods. A learning pod is typically a group of 10 or fewer students studying together in person, but outside of a classroom. The pods are usually run by the parents or a teacher / tutor hired by the families to teach the children in the pod.
Almost one in five parents said their children are currently participating in a learning pod, although the rule is more common among students attending charter and private schools. Despite the benefits that Learning Pods can bring to children during the pandemic, high-income parents are three times more likely than low-income families to take their children to Learning Pods. This highlights the different chances between students from low and high income households. If parents can direct the educational resources provided for their child to the service or institution of their choice, it could help fill this gap.
More than three in five American parents (63%) said K-12 education is on the wrong track, a seven percent increase from EdChoice’s spring poll. Establishing an innovative education system that adequately meets the needs of families during the pandemic would likely produce more favorable results.
Unfortunately, Maine school legislation has moved in the wrong direction in the 129th Legislature, severely limiting opportunities for families in Maine. At the behest of the Maine Teachers Association, Maine’s largest teachers’ union, lawmakers have permanently limited the number of charter schools that can operate in the state to 10. They have also set a permanent enrollment limit for the two virtual charter schools in Maine, which allows only 1,000 students to attend these facilities while preventing them from expanding their services to new grade levels.
How stupid that decision looks today amid the pandemic. Legislators should correct this in the upcoming session by expanding, not restricting, educational opportunities for families in Maine. Students should not be forced into school arrangements that affect their learning ability and future success. The pandemic has revealed the incredible need for change and innovation in our public education system.