WASHINGTON (TND) — More American families are leaving the public school systems. Enrollment numbers dropped by one million in 2020 alone.
This week, Iowa became the third state to enact a universal school choice policy.
“One of the reasons for this is because schools did not listen to parents, you know around that time that the pandemic started. Parents wanted kids in the classroom,” said Alex Nester, an investigative fellow with Parents Defending Education.
An analysis by the Wall Street Journal found enrollment declines in 85 of the nation’s 100 largest school districts. Families are increasingly turning to private, religious and charter schools and according to U.S. Census data, more than 11% of U.S. households are now homeschooling.
“Parents are telling public schools to get better or they will essentially vote with their feet and take their kids out of the schools,” Nester said.
The education shift comes after polling from summer 2022 showed broad support for school choice regardless of a family’s political ideology or ethnic background. The study conducted by the American Federation for Children showed that 68% of Democrats and 82% of Republicans support school choice.
“Gives families the choice. Fund the student directly. Empower parents to choose and that will give all schools public and private and incentive to do the right thing,” said Corey DeAngelis, a senior fellow at the organization.
Iowa’s new Students First Act allows families to use the tax dollars allocated for their kids education – $7,600 per student — to pay for the school of their choosing, joining Arizona and West Virginia as states with the most expansive programs.
A dozen other states are considering implementing universal school voucher programs but critics argue funneling dollars away from public education is just not right.
The federal government predicts public school enrollment will decrease to 47.3 million students by fall 2030