It seems Washington state parents are beginning to embrace home schooling, school choice or online learning, as ways to continue schooling for the future. A new poll from the American Federation of Children shows more parents are considering pulling their children out of the public schools.
The State Superintendent for Schools convened an advisory session with so-called stakeholders, which, apparently to him, meant mostly representatives from the Washington Education Association (WEA). Live Finne has the story on Washington Policy Center
Schools have been closed for two months, and will remain closed through the end of the school year. Tests have been cancelled. Measure of student progress has practically ended. In Seattle nearly all high school students are being given A’s, with a few getting Incompletes. Students say learning is not going well.
The Seattle Times reveals the state’s only remaining form of accountability is a weekly survey of administrators which many districts do not even answer. Washington spends $17 billion a year on K-12 schools, and under COVID there is effectively no accounting for this spending.
Reopening schools next fall is not guaranteed. Even if schools do open, a lot of time and effort will be devoted to keeping children separated from one another.
Another collective eye-roll came this week when the state superintendent announced a group of 100 “stakeholders” to discuss re-opening of Washington’s schools. This group is overwhelmingly dominated by the WEA union and the education establishment that benefit from the $17 billion. Parents have been effectively excluded. A few PTA members show up on this list, but these days the PTA’s positions are virtually indistinguishable from the union’s.
The best solution is expanded learning choice, with family access to online public schools, public charter schools and private schools. These alternative schools have proven more capable under COVID because they do not need to seek the approval of 100 union stakeholders before teaching children.
Lawmakers should be helping families, not unions. Lawmakers should be expanding access to public online and charter schools. They should be providing alternative public schools the same funding other public schools get.
Lawmakers should also give families vouchers of $2,500 to spend on the education of their children, including on tutoring and private school tuition.
Expanding school choice would provide at least one positive outcome from the COVID experience. Time will tell. Washington will either greet the future by expanding school choice, for the sake of its families and children, or cling to the past by denying families access to school choice to protect the finances of its union stakeholders.