School Choice Enrollment
Title 1, Medium district, Suburban, K-6
School Choice is a highly debated topic and for several reasons (many of them due to Covid) we can see why. Many parents have sought alternatives to public education. Some have chosen to send their children to a private school while others have turned to homeschool. The homeschooling movement has gained momentum over the years. This allows parents flexibility when it comes to the education of their child while still meeting state requirements.
Why this Topic is Important
Parents who homeschool are not public education’s enemies. However, there needs to be an open discussion of its impact on schools. The loss of enrollment means a loss to state and federal dollars for schools. Those funds are important to run programs, pay for staffing, and other general operating costs.
Local Example of Impact
Reaching out to our County Superintendent, I found out that last year the homeschool enrollment doubled. This is having an impact on local school budgets. However, the numbers for this year were unavailable. After interviewing a few parents, I discovered that some local school districts may see students returning.
Those that I interviewed were concerned about Covid, masks, and all the requirements made by their local school districts. As parents, they wanted to control those factors. They also had other friends that already homeschooled their children, which created a network for families. This Co-op helped take the burden off them while still providing an education for their child. For the first year, it seemed like a good fit for their families.
Curriculum and Outside Resources
Having the support of others, they purchased a curriculum that would work for their family. However, one family decided that a mixture of several types of curriculum would be better. They now realize that homeschooling is not cheap. Outside resources helped fill the holes in their curriculum including the local library, a dyslexia program offered by a local church, and homeschooling websites or groups.
Two of the three families decided not to continue homeschooling and felt that about half their co-op was also sending their children back to school this year as well. They learned it is hard being the parent and the teacher to their children. One family decided to continue to homeschool again this school year. They felt this was still the best way to meet the needs of their children, but will evaluate the situation as their children get older.
Students can participate in extracurricular activities, use resources, and attend specific classes at public schools as a homeschooler. If they attend part of the day, schools would still receive funding for their attendance. Homeschooling doesn’t need to be in an “either-or” situation. For example, school library resources can be used by homeschool families. Another option available to them would be to work with the local school district to provide remote learning options in essence a virtual public school. This allows school districts to receive full enrollment dollars while the parents work alongside their children at home.
We will most likely see numbers fluctuate when it comes to homeschooling over the next few years. Whatever the parents ultimately decide will impact budgets. However, it is important to understand both sides so districts can provide the best possible education with resources that will improve the learning of their students.