School Choice

Families Have a New Reason to Flee Public Schools

Private schools can stay open even when pandemic rules shut government institutions, court says.

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With the end of summer fast approaching, parents are making hard decisions about their children's education: should they risk the pandemic-fueled chaos of forcibly pre-paid government schools, or should they try homeschooling, private schools, or something different? A recent federal court decision from California may nudge more kids out public-school doors as it affirms that private schools have much wider latitude than those run by the government to set their own policies, including responses to COVID-19. That's an important degree of extra leeway when some officials seem eager to impose new restrictions and the CDC reverses itself to recommend that even vaccinated students should suffer through the day behind masks.

On July 23, a panel of judges from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on a challenge to Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom's across-the-board closure of all schools, private as well as public, to in-class learning last year.

"We hold that the district court properly rejected the substantive due process claims of those Plaintiffs who challenge California's decision to temporarily provide public education in an almost exclusively online format," Judge Daniel P. Collins wrote for a panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. "Both the Supreme Court and this court have repeatedly declined to recognize a federal constitutional right to have the State affirmatively provide an education in any particular manner, and Plaintiffs have not made a sufficient showing that we can or should recognize such a right in this case."

Basically, the court says the state can force you to cough up taxes to fund its quasi-educational holding pens but, in return for that money, you'll get what you get and too bad if you don't like it. You have many more options, though, if you can swallow the cost of taxes and still pony up for other options.

"We reach a different conclusion, however, as to the State's interference in the in-person provision of private education to the children of five of the Plaintiffs in this case. California's forced closure of their private schools implicates a right that has long been considered fundamental under the applicable caselaw—the right of parents to control their children's education and to choose their children's educational forum."

California has since rescinded the school closure order, but the court issued its decision anyway, citing the state's history of "moving the goalposts" as evidence that it couldn't be trusted to refrain from imposing strictures in the future. Renewed mask requirements in Los Angeles County on even the vaccinated and mutterings about reimposing restrictions show that the court's concerns are justified.

So, the Ninth Circuit decision reaffirms the freedom of private alternatives to public schools to offer options that might be at odds with the preferences of public officials—or with the policies of other private institutions. Private schools, microschools, learning pods, and homeschoolers retain their ability to cater to different styles, needs, risk-tolerances, and philosophies, as they should in a diverse and at least nominally free society that respects individual choice.

That people appreciate such flexibility is reflected in the substantially greater happiness found among families that choose alternatives to default government-run district schools.

"Private School and Home School Parents are more strongly satisfied than District School Parents," finds the latest monthly survey performed by Morning Consult for EdChoice. About 67 percent of private school parents report being "very satisfied" with their children's experience, compared to 59 percent of homeschoolers, 59 percent of charter school parents, and 38 percent of district school parents (adding in those who are "somewhat satisfied" brings all learning categories into positive territory).

About 49 percent of private school parents say their children's academic learning progressed "very well" during the last school year, compared to 46 percent of home school parents and 28 percent of district school parents. Private school parents and homeschoolers also substantially outstripped district school parents in their satisfaction with their children's emotional and social development.

If given the option, and cost was not a factor, the survey found that only 41 percent of school parents would choose traditional public schools. About 37 percent would pick private schools, 9 percent would homeschool, and 7 percent would choose charters.

Large majorities of school parents, 70 percent and higher, told EdChoice that they support charter schools, school vouchers, and educational savings accounts that make it easier for them to select learning approaches instead of being stuck in government institutions. Other recent surveys find similar levels of support for education options, with Tommy Schultz, CEO of the American Federation for Children, saying of his organization's polling that "public support for school choice is at an all-time high."

None of this means that families fleeing public schools are all on the same page. Some are absolutely done with mask mandates and distance learning, others want even stricter rules for avoiding infection, and still others choose alternative education approaches for reasons that have nothing to do with pandemic responses. What they all have in common is a desire for learning environments that meet their needs and abide by their priorities—not those of government officials imposing one-size-fits-all mandates. Among those mandates might be renewed mask rules after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) did an about-face on its recommendations this week.

"CDC recommends that everyone in K through 12 schools wear a mask indoors, including teachers, staff, students and visitors, regardless of vaccination status," Director Rochelle Walensky advised in a reversal of earlier guidance.

That's not exactly welcome news to families that vaccinated their teen students in hope of a return to something resembling normal life and healthy human interaction. Many of them are willing to accept the slight risk COVID-19 poses to the vaccinated in order to offset the very real damage isolation has inflicted on children's mental health. From April through October of 2020, emergency room visits in the United States for mental health reasons increased by 24 percent for kids 5- to 11-years-old, and by 31 percent for 12- to 17-year-olds as compared to the previous year, according to researchers.

Thanks to the Ninth Circuit Court panel, parents able to pick private education options for their kids will be a lot freer to make their own assessments of relative risks and choose learning environments that suit their preferences and not those of government officials.

NEXT: Trots and Bonnie

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  1. Government is just those things we choose to do together and we chose to fuck your kids.

    1. Go on…

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  3. As a left-libertarian, I want as many children as possible to attend public schools — where they should be required to recite the principles of critical race theory in order to graduate.

    #RadicalIndividualistsForRacialCollectivism

    1. As a small big, dark light, better worse, rich poor, christian atheist intellectual windbag, i agree with you.

    2. in LAUSD, they’d have to be reciting it from memory.

      teaching the kids to read isn’t a high priority in the nation’s largest district; at least that’s the impression you’d get based on their results.

  4. 1. Charter schools are public schools.
    2. Hillsdale college has developed full K-12 curriculum for homeschooling. Free.

  5. Democrats: no problem, we’ll just outlaw the alternatives.

    1. Indeed, that fight is coming.

  6. Imagine thinking a mask is the worst thing ever. Good lord.

    1. Imagine being a toady to government slavers.

      That’s you jeffsarc lard.

    2. Imagine thinking that free will is a horrible thing, like shitlunches does.

    3. “It’s only a yellow star. Stop being so overdramatic!” — rd, circa 1938

    4. The statists behind the masks are far worse.

    5. Imagine crawling on your knees and licking those boots. Lefty shit-pile above doesn’t have to imagine, it’s what he does!

    6. Imagine thinking a mask is the worst thing ever. Good lord.

      Oh, things can get far, far worse. Compliance on marks/arm bands/… is just how it starts. It ends with torture, labor camps, and mass executions.

    7. The beatings will continue until wrongthink is eradicated.

    8. It is not the mask. It was never about the mask. it is about the lie behind it.

    9. Imagine thinking that a low-percentage chance of the students catching a virus that’s almost entirely harmless to kids in that age range; seasonal flu is far more dangerous for school-age kids, but there’s never been any discussion of mask or vaccination mandates or all-out closure of the facility for the half of the school year that overlaps “flu season”.

      Imagine a teachers’ union having no issues with their members being asked to teach a room full of students who are only 20-30% vaccinated for measels and whooping cough but insisting on 100% vaccination of students (at a time when no vaccine was approved for those under 25).

  7. Well this is a good information

  8. Nothing beats Commie-Education like Commie-Dictation.

    “Quick; those graduates are escaping our ‘mandatory’ prison walls of full-day dictation… Get Them! Get Them!”

    I’ll laugh when they kill their Commie-Education camps and fail at Commie-Dictation. Sadly; historically the ‘Full-On Dictation’ path seems to always win.

  9. It is just one more reason added to a long list of why parents should have never subjected their offspring to government/public schools in the first place. But beware, when you keep your children out of government schools the power-hungry hands of the state/government-run schooling systems, teachers’ unions, and controlling professors of education get angrier that millions of parents are finding out that they do not need $14,602 per child per year of their neighbors’ taxes (the U.S. government school average cost, not including capital expenditures and R&D), do not need professors’ of schools of education training and indoctrination of school teachers, do not need “expert”-created government-school hegemonic and monolithic curriculum, and their children do not need to be with 25 peers of about the same age all day long to be good learners, happy, sociable, have good relationships within their families, and become more adult-oriented and less peer-dependent.
    Peer-reviewed research https://www.nheri.org/a-systematic-review-of-the-empirical-research-on-selected-aspects-of-homeschooling-as-a-school-choice/

    1. Interesting study, thanks for the link.

      “Regarding social and emotional development, a large majority of studies show clearly positive outcomes for the homeschooled compared to those in conventional schools.”

  10. Score 1 for the 9th Circuit…whodda thunk it?

  11. Some years ago I wrote a letter to the editor stating the government schools did X (I don’t recall what the X was.) Some lady wrote in & said they are not government schools, they’re public schools. Let’s see. Who collects the taxes to pay for the schools? The government. Who pays to build the schools? The government. Who pays for the teachers and the bloated group of administrators? The government. And you don’t want to correctly label them, why? Perfect example of government, er public, school brainwashing.

    1. ^+1
      They are *government* schools.

    2. Actually, she has a point.

      If they were “government schools”, they would presumably at least reflect roughly the makeup of the government and the will of the people, meaning that they would be 50% conservative and 50% progressive.

      Instead, they are government financed but almost independent in terms of teaching and curriculum, and hence 100% progressive.

      1. At the Federal Level, “the will of the people” *IS* still that the Federal Government mind it’s own business which doesn’t include schooling. That will not change until a U.S. Constitutional Amendment successfully passes.

        1. Where did I say anything about “the Federal Government”?

          I made the simple point that the US is roughly divided into 50% conservatives and 50% progressives (and that is reflected by school districts), and that “government schools” would ordinarily be expected to reflect that.

          But schools, even at the local level, have become unmoored from the political and social preferences of local communities.

          That is, schools receive government funding, but they do not reflect the preferences of the communities that elect those governments, and, in fact, claim that they do not have to reflect those preferences.

          1. Excellent point; Just wanted to clarify some details to passer by readers. Don’t get your panties in a twist.

      2. They take goverment money to teach federally approved pogroms.

        That’s far enough over the line to count in my book.

  12. My bright, inquisitive and caring daughter will be turning 3 soon, and there’s no way in hell I’m going to put her though public schools.

    I’d like to keep my kid, rather than trading her in for a PC zombie.

  13. “We elite colleges won’t accept applications from this and that religious schools if bible things go against woke ideology”

    Viola, the advantages of private education goes out the window. And these colleges are already just itching to slash white and Asian enrollment cancel anyone at the first sign of abuse allegations.

    We have to confront virtual monopolies eventually. We can’t just say “choose the private option FTW” and walk away. The teacher’s unions already hate charter schools, which are only modified public schools. They won’t stand idly by as even less traditional options take away all the Asians and be left with those black kids they love so much.

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