Parents and legislators in increasing numbers are pushing for school choice. With the pandemic forcing schools in many states to close for months, homeschooling and private school attendance surged across the United States. In a Real Clear opinion poll, it stated “71% of voters back school choice. This is the highest level of support ever recorded from major AFC national polling with a sample size above 800 voters.”
Homeschooling in particular has seen an explosive growth from 3.3% of children being homeschooled in 2020, up to 11% in one year. Public school attendance during the pandemic has fallen sharply. 90% of children were enrolled in a public school a year ago, now the number is 76%.
It is not just the pandemic as a reason parents are increasingly choosing private or homeschooling. Nicholas Zill, a research psychologist and a senior fellow of the Institute for Family Studies shared his findings on the demographics of those choosing homeschooling and their reasons. Among the top three were concern about the school environment which included exposure to violence, drugs, and negative peer pressure, a dissatisfaction with academic instruction, and a desire to provide moral or spiritual instruction alongside academic learning.
In the United States, school choice is popular among both republicans and democrats. Leaders on both parties coming together in support of school choice given its rise in popularity among parents. State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, and state Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, introduced SB 28 and HB 3279 to expand public charter schools in Texas. The bills would reduce regulatory burdens placed on charter school operations, enabling more to expand and accept more students.
John Schilling, President of the American Federation of Children echoed the Texas lawmaker’s decisions, stating “The need for education freedom is at an all-time high and it’s reaffirming to see many state policymakers stepping up and supporting school choice across the country. Thirty-two states have introduced 36 bills to create or expand educational choice and we urge policymakers in these states to get these bills over the finish line on behalf of families and students.”