Sunday November 12, 2023 Attachment Schools

Bob Shillingstad

November 8, 2023

School Choice?

Balkanization of Education

Some interesting information was released over the last month that shed light on school board races and the new landscape facing education.  The so-called Covid pandemic that closed the majority of schools beginning in 2020 was the catalyst for revolt and change but the reasons were much deeper than that. Parents showed up en-masse at Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls school districts locally and were rewarded with a rejection of their pleas and a rejection of the science. The Lakeland District did listen and planned a relatively normal school year with no issues.

What is interesting is what happened that fall of 2020.  The CDA school district lost 10% of their students as parents walked away to home schooling, charters or private education. The districts continued to lose students after that and the numbers this fall continue that story. The CDA district lost nearly 5% more of their students and the Post Falls district lost 2.67% according to Education News.  The West Bonner School District that had a school board recall lost over 13% of their student body. Idaho’s population grew by 1.8% and likely more in Kootenai County but there are about 1,500 fewer students in Idaho government schools this year. Parents looked at results and made an informed decision.

This report came on the heels of the release of test scores in Idaho. Not only were standardized tests not improved or down in nearly all government schools there was a unanimous response that “the tests are bad” or “we don’t really need to look at test results”.  More money is the “cure”!  There seemed to be a lack of curiosity linking the two stories together- fewer students and sinking scores.  The logical answer is this; parents that want their students to achieve are putting them into charter or private schools where the academic achievement is outstanding or homeschooling and that has a dramatic effect on the government school.  Now we are seeing school districts across the nation ignoring testing, ranking of schools and more concerned with teaching a “Critical Race Theory” or “Diversity Equity Inclusion”  curriculum.

The Washington Post last week found that the number of homeschooled children in the US has jumped from 1.5 million in 2019 to as many as 2.7 million this year — some estimates say 3.7 million — suggesting that many children did not return to schools when they reopened during the pandemic. The analysis — from a liberal paper- which looked at 60% of the school-aged population in 7,000 school districts across 32 states and Washington, D.C. — found that homeschooling defies political, geographical and economic borders. For example, while Republican Florida has the largest homeschool population with 154,000 homeschooled children, Democratic New York is showing the fastest growth with nearly 52,000 children homeschooled, more than double since 2017. New York City boroughs Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx saw the highest growth rates with the homeschool population in some districts surging over 300% in the last six years.Florida’s Hillsborough County has become the nation’s homeschool “capital” with 10,680 homeschoolers in the district. “Today, Hillsborough home-schoolers inhabit a scholastic and extracurricular ecosystem that is in many ways indistinguishable from that of a public or private school,” reports the Washington Post. “Home-schooled kids play competitive sports. They put on full-scale productions of ‘Mary Poppins’ and ‘Les Miserables.’ They have high school graduation ceremonies, as well as a prom and homecoming dance.”But studies show that homeschoolers outperform their state-educated counterparts in nearly all areas. Standardized tests reveal that homeschoolers on average score over 30 percentage points higher than public schoolers in core studies such as reading, language and math. SAT test results show that homeschooled children score higher than state-educated children by as many as 70 points in critical reading and 48 points in writing. They are also more likely to achieve higher GPAs.

      Minority children who attend homeschool also show higher results than their counterparts. Black homeschooled students, for example, have been shown to outscore Black public schooled students by 23–42 percentage points. According to government figures, 41% of homeschoolers are Black Asian, Hispanic, and others (i.e. not White/non-Hispanic. The Post estimates that there are nowbetween 1.9 million and 2.7 million home-schooled children in the United States,depending on the rate of increase in areas without reliable data.

            In Idaho there are countless home schooling “co-ops” where teachers share instruction and plan field trips or extra-curricular activities. Many states have followed Arizona in allowing the money to follow the student.  The parent can decide where to spend $7,000 (As in Arizona) a year at a private school, charter school or home schooling.  This is coming to Idaho. 

            Will the flight from government schools continue? It will as school districts, libraries shut out parent involvement and push sex education into elementary books.  Parents want the basics to be taught- a love of country and American History and Government that emphasizes freedom and why America is a great country.   Statistics show that as many as one out of three students is now home schooled or enrolled in a charter or private school. This will affect funding of government schools and have a profound effect on bond issues going forward.  As of now the employees of a school district and their families can have a large impact on locsl voting. The results of this last election showed that but the times are changing!!