Public Schools Are Losing Their Captive Audience of Children

Pandemic chaos is driving families to flee government institutions in search of education that better suits their needs.


Insisting that "the push to reopen schools is rooted in sexism, racism and misogyny," the Chicago Teachers Union is fighting plans to return children to the city's public school classrooms. Not only is the union seeking an injunction to keep kids at home, but it says "all options are going to be on the table"an implied threat of a strike in an already chaotic yearif it's not happy with the school board's decision.

Amidst a multitude of such battles across the country, it's no wonder that families weary of being held hostage to other people's decisions are abandoning government schools to enroll their kids in private institutions or to teach them at home. That shift is likely to permanently transform education in the United States in a way that lets children experience diverse approaches and viewpoints.

School and union officials in Chicago differ over their reading of public opinion tea leaves. The board points to the 37 percent of students whose families have opted for in-person teaching, while the union flips that around to emphasize that a majority of families want to delay reopening. But both sets of data indicate the same thing: people have different risk tolerances and come to varying conclusions about the right way to educate their children. Uniform, top-down approaches inevitably leave large numbers of them dissatisfied and looking for something that better suits their needs.

With similar battles playing out around the country, many families are heading for the exits. The evidence shows that more children than before the pandemic are learning their lessons from options chosen by their parents and free of the whims of school boards and unions. Public school enrollment is down in California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Maine, Minneapolis, Mississippi, and elsewhere.

"Comprehensive national data aren't available yet, but reporting by NPR and our member stations, along with media reports from around the country, shows enrollment declines in dozens of school districts across 20 states," NPR reports.

"The reason is no mystery," according to The New York Times. "With public schools mostly shifting to remote or hybrid learning, parents are pulling their children out entirely, opting to keep them at home or looking for options that offer more in-person instruction."

Where are those kids going? Perhaps some are getting lost in the year's chaos, but it's obvious that many families have embraced education options both traditional and new.

"More families are choosing to home-school or send their children to private schools," notes the Lewiston Sun Journal in Maine.

Homeschooling, in particular, is booming. Once regarded as a fringe choice for hippies and religious families, various approaches to DIY education pushed into the mainstream in recent decades and reached critical mass this year. An estimated 3.3 percent of children were homeschooled in 2016, up from 1.7 percent in 1999, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That share roughly tripled this year to nine percent, in an Education Week survey. Gallup agrees, finding that 10 percent of children are now being homeschooled.

"Home schooling will become more mainstream and socially acceptable, now that so many people are getting experience with schooling their own children from home—whether it's through traditional home schooling or overseeing their children's remote schooling," Christopher Lubienski, a professor of education policy at Indiana University, told Education Week. He predicts that some families will return to public schools after the pandemic passes, but the ranks of homeschoolers will permanently increase.

Many private schools, too, are seeing growth in enrollment. That comes after years of declines because of the Great Recession and the proliferation of charter schools which offer options without charging tuition.

"As the pandemic drags on through the fall, more families are seeking out schools that are fully in-person rather than remote — and, for many, that means switching to an independent institution, despite the cost," CNBC reported last month.

"In a survey of 160 independent schools over 15 states and the District of Columbia, almost half of schools (78) surveyed report they have experienced higher enrollment in the current school year, relative to the prior year," according to Damian Kavanagh, president of the Mid-South Independent School Business Officers association and Ben Scafidi, the director of the Education Economics Center at Kennesaw State University. "Forty-eight schools experienced a decrease in enrollment, while the remaining 34 schools had enrollments 'stay about the same.' Of schools where enrollment essentially was unchanged, the reason that enrollment did not increase at 14 of them was because they were at capacity."

That means that, even as the economy is slammed by pandemic lockdowns and people idled from work in a way that usually decimates private school enrollment, more Americans are digging into their pockets to pay for their kids' education.

Kavanaugh and Scafidi emphasize that independent schools offer "diversity of educational, religious and social offerings in K-12 education." The same can certainly be said of families that tailor their homeschooling approaches according to their own values and their children's needs rather than school board policies.

Perhaps nowhere is this more important than in the range of ideas with which students are presented, and the interpretations that teachers offer to students.

"American history textbooks can differ across the country, in ways that are shaded by partisan politics,"  Dana Goldstein of The New York Times marveled last January, in a stark summary of the country's curriculum wars. She contrasted different editions of the same textbooks prepared for public schools in California and Texas and found that "classroom materials are not only shaded by politics, but are also helping to shape a generation of future voters."

Deliberately or incidentally, families are leaving those politicized lessons behind as they abandon unsatisfactory institutions that have been paralyzed by pandemic-era battles between school boards and unions. The world they're creating is bound to be more diverse in terms of its ideas and approaches even as it's better suited to the needs of parents and children.

NEXT: A Fourth Amendment Mistake the Supreme Court Should Fix

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  3. Joe and Dr. Biden (and their left wing teacher union comrades) will go to great lengths to prevent parents from choosing schools that truthfully teach American history, civics, free markets and minds.

    Public schools (like most universities) have become cesspools of left wing Democrat activists who want public schools to continue indoctrinating children to become anti-American anti-capitalist social justice activists.

    1. Reason editors and writers (and especially Koch) knew that Biden, Democrats and teachers unions would further destroy public schools and make it even more difficult for parents to obtain better education options.

      So why did Reason demonize school choice champion Trump for the past four years, and why did Reason campaign for Biden for the past eight months?

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      2. We can thank the Libertarian Party for electing Biden/Harris. But they’re too “principled” to care how much havoc they wreak.
        Many big-L libertarians I’ve met had never heard of the Tragedy of the Commons, and had no idea how that related to their unlimited open immigration policy. They evinced a dangerous combination of conceit and ignorance.

        1. I have it on good authority that Jill Jorgensen is an out-and-proud socialist. Why would you think that if she weren’t on the ballot, that it would be an advantage for Trump?

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      3. Perhaps you are mistaking Reason for a libertarian publication. The TDS is strong in the writers. It has caused many of them to abandon their principles because of their hatred of one of the principals. Trump is unclean and unsavory. So, just like in primitive tribes, he must be driven out. Their racism is rapant as well, considering Trump has done more to materially improve the lot of blacks than any President in many decades, maybe since Lincoln (as Trump claimed.) It’s sad. And disgusting.

    2. I don’t disagree with anything you are saying, but what you say isn’t exactly a bombshell revelation here. 🙂

    3. If you say Dr. Biden, you should show the proper respect to President-elect Biden

    4. I agree. Sad to see Trump losing the election (looks stolen to me based on Navarro’s report and the audit of the Antrim county Dominion voting machines) and us losing Trump as a big advocate of school choice. That is a libertarian position, but it’s hard to see it with the TDS that infected the Reason staff.

      And if the rumor that Koch decided that supporting Trump was a mistake because of the division, well I think that’s a mistake because that division is the problem but that division (which takes two to tango) comes from the political class, not the working class. The choice is to submit, or fight, and it seems Koch chose to submit to the political class.

      1. ” Sad to see Trump losing the election (looks stolen to me based on Navarro’s report and the audit of the Antrim county Dominion voting machines)…”

        I see that Peter Navarro has branched off from his expertise in infectious diseases that led him to say that Dr. Anthony Fauci had “been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on.” Now he is an expert in election law and security. If only he was an expert in global trade policy, then Trump may have actually done some good for the country’s economy.

        Of course I jest. A person doesn’t need to be an expert in infectious diseases to criticize a public health official who is one, nor does he need to be an expert in elections to offer views about what happened in 2020. But we should give no weight to Navarro’s opinions on these matters beyond that which they deserve after viewing them skeptically. His opinions on the scientific aspects of the pandemic and the technical and legal aspects of elections have no more inherent value than those of millions of other people that also lack any expertise in those areas.

        If you’ve read the reports from Navarro and Allied Security Operations Group, then what can you say about the validity of their factual claims and the accuracy of their analysis? The Antrim County issue is the most obvious problem, to me, though not for what you think.

        The county completed a hand audit late last week. It resulted in Trump gaining a net of 12 votes in the county over Biden, out of almost 16,000 cast for the two candidates. That’s a 0.07% shift, not a 68% “error rate” as claimed in Allied Security Operations Group’s report. When at the recent Senate hearing led by Sen. Ron Johnson, Christopher Krebs said it was not that 68% of the votes in Antrim were errors, as the report claimed, but that 68% of the election management system’s logs had some sort of error alert rate noted within them.

        Bottom line, are you going to read Navarro’s report skeptically and follow up with the responses and criticism to his report? Or is just the fact that he put out a report that claims all kinds of fraud good enough for you to believe that?

        The problem with Trump’s division isn’t that it comes from the political class, but that it is (mostly) one side within the political class trying to create divisions within the working classes to exploit and use to build and keep power.

        All politicians want power, or they wouldn’t go into politics. The ideal of public service is to seek that power by convincing a majority of the electorate that your ideas and plans will be better for the community as a whole than the ideas and plans of other candidates. Whether it is a local school board election or for President, the goal is to do the most good for the most people possible. Politicians play the game of chopping up the population so that they can present issues as zero sum. The only political issue that truly is zero sum, though, is political power itself.

        Always beware when politicians present you a choice where something that should be a good thing can’t happen because it would lead to something else bad. That is, false dichotomies. There was never a choice between reducing COVID-19 infection rates and keeping the economy from disaster. There is not a choice between teacher unions and students. There is not a choice between protecting our environment and growing the economy. There is not a choice between increasing the number of eligible citizens voting in elections and election security. Anyone that is telling you that we can only have one or the other on these topics is looking to divide and conquer, not solve real problems.

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  4. Half this article could have been not typed up. Just kept repeating the same thing. Jesus, give us something to be pissed about!

    1. You can’t be pissed in NYC any more.

    2. Sullums article is due soon.

  5. Hmmm, I can’t say that our local school’s history curriculum is politicized because they don’t have a history curriculum. Our state does have, however, mandated sex ed beginning in kindergarten. So that’s great.

    1. I can’t say that our local school’s history curriculum is politicized because they don’t have a history curriculum

      This is the latest trend, yes. “History” as a subset of “literature.”

      1. Yep; in the fiction subset.

    2. And i’m assuming the sex ed is actually more focused on trans indoctrination that actual facts about the birds and the bees.

      1. In either case it’s a waste of time. Sex Ed should be one 5-minute session: “This is the clitoris. Pay attention to it.”

    3. “Hmmm, I can’t say that our local school’s history curriculum is politicized because they don’t have a history curriculum.”

      What “local school” is this? I learned quite a bit about U.S. and Florida history when I was in elementary school here in the late 70’s and throughout the 80’s. Students have certainly learned a lot of history at every high school that I have taught at in the last 17 years.

      Mainly, I am wondering what specifics you have to offer other than rants about “sex-ed” to 5-year olds.

      1. Local elementary school in WA state. They maybe learn snippets of history here and there, but there’s no real curriculum.
        And yes, I have an issue with my state mandating sex ed but not what I consider basic academic education.

        1. Oh, they also don’t teach language arts, I guess? No verb conjugation, spelling, homonyms, parts of speech, etc.

          1. Am I just supposed to take your word for this, and if I do assume that it is true, that it is a widespread problem rather than just a problem at this one school?

            As anecdotal evidence, you aren’t even providing sufficient detail for me to accept it as an anecdote.

            1. To be clear, I don’t expect you to simply accept my statements about what I observed as being true either. But if you aren’t going to provide any sufficient detail that could actually serve as a basis for debate and understanding, then I guess I shouldn’t bother either.

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  6. So the kiddos are all a year behind in school now. And the US school system wasn’t exactly leading the world in academic performance to begin with. This may have severe unexpected consequences down the road, I fear.

    1. I think the kids who underperform after this we’re going to anyway so they are just a year behind working at Walmart or McDonald’s.

      But if you want your kid to get an education don’t put them in government daycare for 13 years and expect anything better than the kinds of behavior we saw last summer.

  7. Good thing Joe won then, as he ran as a huge support of public school unions and has mentioned ending funding to charters.

    1. Nothing like a union to destroy the very group it purports to represent. My fave part about big liberal unions like the teachers’ union? They give loads of money to the Democrats so they can keep on doing what they do best: weakening people, communities, families, faith, schools, and strengthening Big Gov in the process. They don’t mind if they ruin the lives of every poor kid if if gives them power. See busing. A big liberal failure that destroyed many public school systems across the country. People want their children to go to school in the community they live in, not spend over two hours on a bus every day to “improve schools.” Leftists are so stupid.

      1. My Dad returned to a union mining job after a stint in the Army. During that time the mine had been purchased by a Texas resource conglomerate. Silver prices were dropping and demand for lesser metals produced by the mine, such as zinc, nickel and lead were also declining as US manufacturing was declining. The company stated they would have to renegotiate the contract to keep the mine open. My Dad, a staunch union member at the time campaigned for the renegotiation, because a job is better than no job, especially in the late 70s early 80s. The union rejected it. The mine was completely shut down within a year, 5,000 employees without a job. My Dad was unemployed for 18 months. Yeah, unions are great at this. Coincidentally, the same union rejected a contract from Kaiser Aluminum in Spokane in the late 1990s, as Boeing, their largest customer, was cutting back because of defense cuts. Guess what? You guessed it, Kaiser Aluminum closed it’s doors.

        1. My father remains moderately pro-privaye union but supports right to work.

          1. Unions so far have destroyed or bankrupted every group they claim to protect with the exception of federal government employees who have the benefit of a printing press to keep their idiocy afloat. Jobs shipped overseas thank to unions: auto workers, garment workers, phone workers, steel workers, miners, factory workers, I could go on. Baggage handlers just got mostly eliminated by encouraging people to stow smaller suitcase. Then there are the industries bankrupted by unions: airlines, auto makers, clothing manufacturers. Unions usually don’t care about anything but giving themselves more power.

            1. In fairness, construction trade unions still basically function the way they’re sort-of meant to, but yeah – I’ve been unionized twice in previous professions and both of those unions did far more harm than good.

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            2. “Jobs shipped overseas thank to unions: auto workers, garment workers, phone workers, steel workers, miners, factory workers, I could go on.”

              Garment workers: It is awful that unions in the U.S. wouldn’t accept having their people work in sweatshops like overseas just so that people can buy cheap sneakers and t-shirts here.

              Phone workers: I assume you mean the technicians, not phone support? Telecommunications got a lot more complex than paired copper wires, and expanding that infrastructure has had large investments in this country, so if that is what you mean, I’m not sure what you are talking about. Though, in truth, our telecommunications infrastructure has lagged many other wealthy countries from what I’ve been reading for the last 20 years.

              Steel, mining, factory workers: The combination of globalization and automation has hurt these working-class industries far more than anything a union could do.

          2. soldiermedic76, I haven’t seen you in a while. I trust you are well. I always appreciate your point of view.

          3. “My father remains moderately pro-privaye union but supports right to work.”

            “Right-to-work” laws are a trojan horse that only weakens unions, which is, of course, the point of them. If union leadership is not responsive to rank-and-file concerns within the bargaining unit, then it is the governance of the union that needs reforming.

            Unions, by definition, consist of the workers. Their leaders are elected by a vote of members, the contracts are voted on by all members of the bargaining unit, etc. If workers don’t like the way that the union is functioning, they should be able to vote out the leaders not representing them well.

            But for some workers to essentially opt out of the whole process of contributing to the union breaks this ideal. It isn’t just about paying dues. A worker that doesn’t join is not contributing to the governance of the union either. A person that doesn’t vote for political office is deferring their say in the government to those that do vote. That is a personal choice that is not a good idea. Representative government functions better when more people pay attention to what is going on, understand it, and then vote what they think is in the best interests of themselves, their families, and the whole electorate. But it can be argued that it is better for someone to choose to leave it to others than to vote out of ignorance, disinformation, or emotional reactions to single issues that are not major factors in most people’s lives. However, those people are still going to pay taxes that support the government that everyone else is choosing.

            I said that it wasn’t just about dues, and that is true, but for a worker to opt out of both the governance of the union and its financial support, while still reaping the benefits of having a collectively bargained contract is to free ride on the efforts of others while simultaneously weakening their ability to deliver benefits from those efforts.

            1. And unions protect bad workers who don’t pull their weight and should be terminated, even protect dangerous workers who put others at risk, and they get paid the same, rather or not they are productive. So in the end it is a wash. Also, right to work doesn’t require a company to pay the same and offer the same benefits to non-union as union (although federal law does forbid them from paying non union more). The companies choose to, to decrease the power of the union. Which is their right, as it is my right not to be forced to belong to an organization in order to be employed.

              1. “Also, right to work doesn’t require a company to pay the same and offer the same benefits to non-union as union (although federal law does forbid them from paying non union more).”

                I’m pretty sure that you are wrong about this. The point of collective bargaining is to come to one contract for all workers. If workers that weren’t members of the union are treated differently, then they would have to be working under a separate contract from those in the union. That is illegal, as far as I know.

                I live in Florida, a “Right to work” state. Whether I was a member of the union and paid dues or not, I still voted on the contract and was covered by it. That included pay and everything else. Unions actually have a “duty of fair representation” and cannot discriminate in any way as they represent workers. They can and do provide some benefits to only dues-paying members, but the contract is for everyone.

                Besides, a company that paid workers less that weren’t in the union would be providing a whole bunch of incentive for that worker to join the union, wouldn’t they?

                Your “right not to be forced to belong to an organization in order to be employed” is not due to “Right to work” laws, but to the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947. That banned a “closed shops” and “union shops”, where workers had to be members in order to be hired and to remain employed or to join the union shortly after being hired and maintain membership. If you don’t want to join a union, you don’t have to. But if you want to work under a contract bargained for by a union, benefit from the protections to your job and against retaliation from your employer, and even be represented by the union in a dispute with your employer based on the contract, then maybe paying the “agency fee” to cover those costs is more than fair.

                What it really seems to me is that you and others just don’t want unions, period. Except, of course, unions for police, firemen and other rescue workers, and prison guards. They contribute to Republicans, so they are okay.

                “And unions protect bad workers who don’t pull their weight and should be terminated, even protect dangerous workers who put others at risk, and they get paid the same, rather or not they are productive. So in the end it is a wash.”

                It would only be “a wash” if it is true and to the same extent. I’ll keep saying it, since neither you nor anyone else that is anti-union ever seems to address this, but a majority of workers set the policies of the union. Why would a majority of workers want to protect the jobs of incompetents that might put them in danger? Could it be that unions work to make employers honor provisions of the contract so that the good workers can rely on those protections? Kind of the same principle that has us try and make sure that police and prosecutors are held to a high standard even when suspects are almost certainly guilty of heinous crimes?

                You accuse me of all kinds of elitism and of “lecturing” you. Well, I am a teacher, so the fact that I do have a university education and “lecture” as part of my job shouldn’t make that too surprising. I tend to adopt that kind of tone when I am trying to be complete about the facts and arguments I am making, not as an effort to speak from “on high.” The chip is on your shoulder here. I am not trying to be insulting, and nothing that I am saying should be insulting. But you continue to be insulting quite deliberately.

        2. You guessed it, Kaiser Aluminum closed it’s doors.

          Which is sad, because a big part of Henry Kaiser’s whole philosophy was treating his workers well, giving them benefits (which is where Kaiser Permanente came from), and paying them above-market wages so that they would be loyal and work hard.

          Oddly, I don’t think the unions liked him too much.

        3. “My Dad, a staunch union member at the time campaigned for the renegotiation, because a job is better than no job, especially in the late 70s early 80s.”

          As a general principle, that isn’t always going to be true. A job where the employer is cutting costs by compromising worker safety isn’t going to be better than no job with that company. A job where the company cuts costs by looking for loopholes in environmental laws that result in harm to the people living nearby may not be better than no job with that company. A job where the shareholders, executives and other top management all see their compensation and return on investment go up while the compensation for rank-and-file workers goes down may not be better than no job with that company.

          The point of labor unions is for workers to be able to do more than simply accept what is offered, take-it-or-leave it. Sometimes, it can actually be better for the individual and for all of the average workers to move on and find a different job elsewhere if the company can’t or won’t offer sufficient compensation and working conditions.

          It just doesn’t make a lot of sense for people to simply accept that the working class job market will mean stagnant wages at the same time that the upper middle class and the executive and investor classes of the country continue to grow their wealth at a nice rate.

          1. So, the 5000+ employees of Bunker Hill/Sullivan where better off unemployed? The 100s of marriages that ended as a result of unemployment? The millions of dollars of private wealth the lost combined? Yeah, sure is losing our house, car and having to move to an entirely new city while my Grandpa died of lung cancer were all worth it. Idiot.

            1. You ended your reply with and insult, “Idiot.” I will therefore not bother trying to explain what you missed and misunderstood. Have a nice day.

              1. Didn’t misunderstand anything. Because you are saying no job is a good thing if the job doesn’t meet union demands. Nothing good occurred by my father’s union rejecting the contract. But you live in a hypothetical world not the real world, e.g. you are an idiot. And your entire post was dismissive and talking down a real persons lived experienced. Lecturing from on high. It was insulting in and of itself. Also, your post on right to work was a lecture as if I was so stupid and my father so stupid as not to realize what right to work means. You didn’t use blatant insults but you chose to talk down to us “uneducated” sorts.

                1. “Because you are saying no job is a good thing if the job doesn’t meet union demands. Nothing good occurred by my father’s union rejecting the contract.”

                  I did not say that having no job “is a good thing if the job doesn’t meat union demands.”

                  “A job where the employer is cutting costs by compromising worker safety isn’t going to be better than no job with that company.” [emphasis in original – that is the point you missed and/or don’t understand and are now misstating]

                  I think that a recap is in order here. This article was about so-called “school choice” and the pandemic. But this movement has a substantial component to it that is in opposition to teacher unions, to which purpose MJaneKelly makes a broad, anti-union argument that unions hurt the people that they are supposed to represent. You then tell a story of your father’s efforts to support a contract renegotiation with a mining company that ends up closing a mine within a year when the union does not do so.

                  That is a very personal story that no doubt includes a lot of personal heartbreak for your family and thousands of others in that community at the time. Although, looking up the Bunker Hill Mine and Smelting complex brings up a lot of environmental issues, especially lead poisoning, surrounding its operation. It is still a Superfund site being cleaned up to this day, after having closed nearly 40 years ago, as you’ve said. It isn’t even clear, from what I am finding, that the union can even be blamed for the mine closing. At least, not as the majority of the situation. Metal prices and rising environmental costs certainly had their role to play.

                  So you see, what starts out as a personal story for you, is actually a story that anyone reading what you wrote can dig into and find information that doesn’t depend on your point of view. You own your story, but your story doesn’t even look like the whole story of even that mine and its closure, let alone all labor unions in this country.

                  I don’t live in a “hypothetical” world. The real world that I do live in includes shortsighted actions by people that are often hailed as heroes of capitalism in libertarian and conservative circles. These actions can then have a severe and lasting negative impact on working class people that don’t have the option to simply leave when their town falls on hard times because there is no longer money to be made for investors. In that respect, workers may feel justified in accepting a bad deal as being better than no deal. But the owners and investors are always going to push for those workers to take on more of the pain to keep things going. Because, after all, workers can’t offer to work for so little that a business will stay open if the profitability depends circumstances improving in other areas besides labor costs. If there is no profit to be made no matter how little the workers are willing to accept, then the business will close regardless of what the union is willing to do.

                  You seem to want to believe that I am talking down to you, because then you can more easily dismiss what I am saying and take a combative position. I am sorry to disappoint you, but I am don’t write long comments like this to be combative. I do so because I want to have discussions about the real problems brought up in whatever article I am writing under. I care about education in this country, and I try and bring in facts and reasoning to a debate on education that too often simply becomes about how bad teacher unions are among libertarians and conservatives.

                  As I said in my other reply about so-called “right to work” laws, you are displaying a chip on your shoulder with your feelings of being insulted by me and thinking that I am trying to talk down to you and other “uneducated sorts”, to use your words.

              2. Also, you chose not to respond not because 8 insulted you but because you didn’t have an adequate response. You have a hypothetical (and I would be surprised if you ever worked a blue collar union job in your life) but can’t respond when reality doesn’t fit your hypothetical narrative.

        4. Unions are great at representing the shittiest, laziest, sickliest, most incompetent bottom of the barrel workers at the expense of everyone else.

  8. Fast forward five years:

    Public schools are closed.
    Public school teachers receive full pay, benefits, and pensions.
    Most public school teachers live in the Bahamas.

    1. If you want some fun, take a scroll through this pension program that has bankrupted California. This is what Democrat voting gets you:
      Voting themselves more “free” stuff, because: feelings.

      1. My step-sister is a teacher in CA. I know quite a few teachers there, retired and otherwise. Pretty nice gravy-train.

        1. Taxpayers being forced to provide fancy pensions for government employees of all types (teachers, bus drivers, federal employees) that they cannot get working for private companies is just another Big Gov incentive to weaken the private sector (except for the oligarchs). Pretty soon we all work for the government and then we are the Soviets: a few people living in luxury and everyone else making the same sad living.

        2. “My step-sister is a teacher in CA. I know quite a few teachers there, retired and otherwise. Pretty nice gravy-train.”

          Even if I accept that these anecdotal and partisan “reports” regarding CA pensions are true, CA is not the whole country. CA is not even uniform within its own borders, as cost of living can vary tremendously between the urban/suburban areas of San Diego, LA, San Francisco, and Silicon Valley versus the rural interior.

          I live and teach in Florida. There is no gravy train here.

          1. You are correct: in some counties (LA?), they have offered teaching positions with “cash” up front just to move there. The disparity in the cost of living across the State is huge, while the disparity in teacher’s salaries is pretty small. Most teachers are doing okay, some are really on a gravy train, and some need bail-outs. My main gripe with CA is the pensions, anyway, and not the wages. CA guarantees nearly a 7% return on their public employee’s retirement investments, and when the investments don’t meet that goal (which is very, very often), the taxpayers have to pony up the rest.

            1. I am creating an honest wage from home 3000 Dollars/week , that is wonderful, below a year agone i used to be unemployed during a atrocious economy.REd I convey God on a daily basis i used to be endowed these directions and currently it’s my duty to pay it forward and share it with everybody,

              Here is I started……. Home Profit System

    2. “Public schools are closed.
      Public school teachers receive full pay, benefits, and pensions.
      Most public school teachers live in the Bahamas.”

      Thanks, I needed a good laugh. The idea that public school teachers can live the good life on a tropical island is something only conservatives and libertarians that don’t know anything about public school teachers could believe.

      1. I will admit to a large dose of sarcasm. Note: I taught for a couple of years, in a private school, and as adjunct staff at a State university.

  9. It’s deceptic to call these “public schools” because many so-called “private schools” are also open to the public. Instead call them what they are: “government-run schools” or (in many Democrat-controlled areas) “union-run schools.”
    (And calling these institutions “schools,” as opposed to “indoctrination centers” is often being a bit charitable.)

    1. “Private” schools are increasingly referring to themselves as “independent schools” for exactly this reason.

      1. “Independent” schools were private schools with no religious affiliation. They were as secular (or close to as secular) as public schools. See

        Parochial schools are private schools affiliated with a church or religion. Whether they are Catholic schools, non-denominational Christian schools, or schools that serve religious minorities, they take instructing students in that religion as an essential part of the school’s mission as much as academic subjects.

        Any parochial schools or school choice advocates that are shifting to calling all private schools “independent” are confusing the issues, possibly on purpose.

  10. Three types of relationships a child needs. Parents, a teacher, and a friend.

    Some ancient wisdom. The Mishnah says “make for yourself a teacher. Acquire for yourself a friend.” One is an active verb, the other passive.

    A teacher is not done until the student surpasses in ability to learn. A friend is not a friend until you have found the ability to overcome yourself and place the interests of another before your own. A parent gives love without boundary.

    My sermon of the day.

  11. Be a parent. Take responsibility for educating you children.
    Home-school if at all possible, private school if you must. Let government schools die a well deserved death

    1. And swimming. Teach them how to swim.

      I am amazed by the number of people who cannot swim.

  12. Yesterday Reason was shilling for more government schools.

  13. You shouldn’t have your kids in public school anyway. This is the push a lot of people needed to get out. Good for them. One silver lining of the so-called ‘pandemic’

    1. If there’s one thing that’s going to break the Democrats in CA, it’s how beholden they are to the teachers’ unions. People are increasingly desperate and are losing their patience with the “we just some more funding” arguments.

      Now we’ve had nine months of “wow, those after-school programs and on-line resources I’ve been using to supplement my kid’s shitty education are actually working better now that we don’t waste six hours a day sitting in that stupid school!”

  14. You’re wrong again, like you were about lockdowns. No, there is not a significant number of Americans rebelling against lockdowns, and, no, there is not a large number of parents rejecting public schools. Both are very small fringe groups.

    1. So if people aren’t rebelling against lockdowns and are going along nicely, why are the Covid cases increasing so dramatically? You must believe the lockdowns don’t work worth a shit. If so, why do we have lockdowns? You just made a great case for getting rid of lockdowns.

      Not that it was needed, since lockdowns of all types for all reasons are unconstitutional and immoral.

      1. Anecdotal to be sure, but my grandchildren’s private parochial school (same school their parents attended) has been turning away students since April, and are considering a building program. Just say’in.

      2. “lockdowns don’t work worth a shit”


        “You just made a great case for getting rid of lockdowns.”

        One of them.

  15. Half the solution is moving the kids out of public schools. But the toughest half is convincing the state to create a credit or voucher in the amount of the state’s per-pupil allocation. That credit should be spendable in any accredited school and if implemented would open a huge market.

    The school choice solution is not the teachers’ idea of choice and certainly not the union’s idea. Most know what’s needed is a robust free market filled with all kinds of accredited schools, able to deliver general subjects as well as all kinds of specialties, including athletics and the arts.

    1. The problem will be getting schools that teach anything other than the same old public school propaganda or even further to the left accredited.

      Here in MN our charter accredited schools allow things like middle school students touring sex shops for sex ed, ‘african’ schools for Black kids where they wear dashikis and learn some very unique versions of history and current events, Somali schools that guarantee parents that their child will study the Koran in Arabic until they can recite it by memory by fifth grade, and these are just the schools that they mainstream media has reported on. Who knows what else our tax dollars are paying for.

      Accreditation will be the key to school choice and I think, at least in liberal states, we know who will get it and who won’t.

      1. I just had to find out what you were talking about with the middle school tour of a sex shop. I found this article about it, which was something that happened in 2015.

        The school in question was a private school with 25 students, total. Some parents were justifiably upset that they weren’t even notified that it was going to happen.

        “Minnesota Department of Education spokesman Josh Collins said the state has no authority over the school because it is private. ‘‘I don’t think anybody would think that going to the Smitten Kitten is a great idea,’’ he said.”

        This is just the kind of political comment about education that is a poor substitute for anything resembling real policy debate. You find one article that qualifies only as the kind of “weird news” story that provides us with an entertaining diversion from more serious (and usually upsetting) news. And you then make it seem like it is showing a huge problem with how education is run in a whole state.

  16. The USA has by far the highest % of private schooled kids of any developed country. Yet many other developed countries do much better in education, especially math/science, with their public schools. This article is provincial garbage.

    1. The school choice movement has some people that are sincere in wanting to see better education in this country. Unfortunately, I see the politicians that advocate for school choice on the right as not being among them. It is a political wedge issue to them, not a problem to actually solve.

      There are those (like Betsy DeVos herself) that simply want to see public money going to parents that will choose religious private schools. For them, school choice is a culture wars issue. More students in religious schools means more students being brought up literally indoctrinated into their (conservative Christian) religion. They are especially ‘havens’ where schools can keep “the gay” out and teach creationism instead of science that might cause them to doubt their faith. (There are plenty of people that work in scientific fields that are religious, but evangelicals that take the Bible more literally have a lot more cognitive dissonance to resolve than mainline Protestants, most Catholics, Jews, and others.)

      Then there is the goal of poaching the votes of a few Black parents living in urban neighborhoods. Promise them a way to “escape” the “failing” public schools that they don’t support and they may vote for Republicans instead of Democrats.

      The biggest plus, though, is weakening teacher unions that support Democrats. Being anti-union has been in Republican DNA for more than my lifetime, but the separation of interests between the GOP and teacher unions grew leaps and bounds over the last 30 years. Teacher unions (full disclosure for those that haven’t read all of my prior comments: I teach in a public school in Florida and have been a union member many more years than not) support Democrats because Republican politicians, as a whole, do not support teachers. Our unions are “evil”, we don’t care about kids, just our pensions, and we don’t want any accountability, according to them.

      Florida GOP education policies since Jeb Bush have been a joke. Jeb! didn’t seem all bad, but his “A+” plan for accountability that lined up with his brother’s No Child Left Behind law that would come a couple years later was not about instituting accountability that would improve teaching. It was about punishing schools and teachers for not being able to overcome factors beyond our control and feeding a predetermined narrative that public education was “failing” poor and minority students.

      Education gaps are real, and there are real problems with education in poor, urban, minority-heavy neighborhoods. But accountability driven almost entirely by standardized test scores is boiling a complex problem down to just the aspect of the problem that can be easily measured.

      Ultimately, improving education in the United States is going to take people and leaders willing to look beyond the politics and actually understand what is working and what isn’t. The school choice movement is far too dominated by the politics to be part of the solution.

  17. Public Schools fail is so many categories … from what is taught, how it is taught, whether community ‘needs’ from school are met; and on and on.
    They and their teachers and employees are owned by the Progressive movement and its policies … which are hostile to our Constitution and the vales of America’s founding. This leads to instruction that omits much of the key lessons of this document and those who wrought our great nation.
    Happily, our free market is slowly bringing the necessary changes … from private and charter schools, to increasing resistance to the education swamp. In the end if teachers are to be in a union, then and pay increases should be voted on by the school district citizens (and not some school board).

  18. I have a few comments and questions for school choice advocates here at Reason. First, the questions:

    Is it parental choice that you want above all else? If so, then what about the schools’ ability to choose? Is it really parental choice if schools can reject students for whatever reason they want versus a public school that can’t reject students for anything short of severe discipline problems?

    How do you plan on maintaining equal access regardless of parent financial resources? Vouchers are always advertised to save taxpayers money, which means that they are typically well below per pupil spending in the area. If you limit the evaluation to private schools with tuition at or below local per pupil spending, are private schools really a better choice, on average?

    How do you plan to hold private schools receiving vouchers accountable to taxpayers as well as parents? First, parents can only hold a private school accountable for things they know about. Are voucher students going to take the same tests that public school students have to take? With the results published publicly for all to see?

    I’ve never seen the flip side of school choice presented by anyone here at Reason. Florida has a very large voucher program, and it has virtually zero accountability. The students are not required to take state tests, and very few do. The schools can choose from a large number of tests to give to the voucher students, and they only report them to a state university group that can only draw limited conclusions due to the many different tests involved. The schools have no requirements for teacher qualification, and some have been caught having hired teachers with felony convictions, that were high school dropouts, and more. And the parents weren’t up in arms over these things because they didn’t know. Some were caught having falsified fire safety inspection reports. Many teach about Flood Geology and Biblical Creation instead of actual science, and many refuse to enroll students that are gay or have parents that are gay.

    All of this, and Republicans that control all levels of the state government do nothing about it, because they don’t want private schools to be accountable. They just want to spend less money on education, period, so that they can keep Florida as a lovely tax haven for businesses and retirees whose grandkids are in other states that take education seriously.

    1. It’s so nice to have a union member provide pseudo-intellectual arguments in favor of continued union control of a market.

      1. Do you have anything useful to say? Or are you just going to take your content-free pot-shot and move on?

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    The tail can be very small, but they are only too happy to show their tail. If they make their tail bigger, the tail is bigger than half the size of the peacock itself! The peacock is also known for having a special eye color. You can find red, gold, blue also other colors. Peacocks are very special and beautiful birds.

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  24. Our schools teach White students that they are immoral and contemptible if they don’t support the White Genocide that is being carried out by mass third-world immigration and forced assimilation i.e diversity in Every White country and Only White countries.
    Their teachers never tell them, “White self-hatred is SICK!!!“
    Those teachers claim to be anti-racist. What they are is anti-White.
    Anti-racist is a code word for anti-White.

    1. “Our schools teach White students that they are immoral and contemptible if they don’t support the White Genocide that is being carried out by mass third-world immigration and forced assimilation i.e diversity in Every White country and Only White countries.”

      And here I thought that my run-on sentences were bad.

      You talk about “White Genocide” as if someone is actually killing or in favor of killing white people. Really, you are just repeating the beliefs of the “very fine people” at the infamous Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017. Some chanted “You will not replace us!” as a response to immigration of people from “shithole” countries, rather than places with nice, white people like Norway.

      I have Norwegian heritage, so I resent the idea that I would be participating in any kind of “White Genocide” by insisting that immigration policies don’t favor particular skin colors over others. I have no “white guilt”. But I also don’t reject the fact that non-white people in this country were unjustly oppressed, often brutally, for basically all of American history prior to my birth almost 50 years ago. I also don’t reject the fact that despite enormous progress toward eliminating that oppression, we still have a legacy of that history and its economic effects to deal with. I also accept the observable fact that there are still “very fine people” that do reject these truths and are afraid of losing their political power to people with more melanin in their skin.

  25. My cousin is a teacher at a public school. This has been a tough year. She is a teacher, but also has 4 children. The school year started remote, then went back to the classroom and then remote again. She works very hard to deliver the best education she can to her students and to help her own children to stay on task. This situation isn’t easy and is unprecedented.

    This isn’t a public school only situation. One of my relatives has 5 children (some are foster children). She had enrolled them in a Catholic School. She decided she did not want to send them to in person school this year and that was the only option at the Catholic School, so she purchased an at-home curriculum and is home schooling for the year. They will likely return to Catholic School next school year.

    School choice is nice, but there needs to be public education. About 90% of students have parents that can’t afford private tuition and don’t have parents that either have the time or educational background to home school. So the government needs to offer the best education that it can as a baseline. Most of the arguments about education are not about teaching skills and knowledge, but values. Those should be taught in the home. Also, currently public schools are funded with property taxes so students in wealthy neighborhoods get great resources and students in poorer and rural areas get significantly fewer resources. Funding schools more fairly would help.

    As far as school choice, it would be possible (at least in urban / suburban environments) to have more than one model that parents could choose from. There are schools that have a strong outdoor / hands-on curriculum that would be great for some students. Other do better is a traditional classroom. All children don’t respond to the same kind of teaching so it should be possible within the public schools to have more than one program that parents could choose from based on what would work for their child.

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  28. I thought Luke Skywalker was educated by drones.

    1. er, droids. What happened to the Edit button?

    2. Lol I was thinking the same thing.

  29. It sounds like the new administration will work to correct this. We can’t allow children to escape the indoctrination exercises the public education system has worked so hard to develop. It’s for their own good.

  30. Parents have been pulling their kids out of public schools for years and putting them in private schools, or home-schooling them, because most of the public schools systems, especially the public school systems in urban areas, are rotten to the core.

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