As the 2020-2021 academic year approaches, school districts around the country are developing plans for how to operate in a pandemic. An unforeseen challenge? Estimating how many students to expect, given that recent polling indicates a majority of parents are considering making changes to their schooling plans.
In addition to the pandemic-related education shifts, on June 30, 2020, the US Supreme Court decision in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue struck down Blaine amendments that disqualified religious schools from voucher programs. This outcome means more parents will have access to financial resources as they make their choices.
A majority of parents with children enrolled in K-12 schools are considering changing their child’s future schooling. Nearly two-thirds of public-school parents and three-quarters of private-school parents are interested in making adjustments for the coming year.
Polling released this week from Heart + Mind Strategies indicates an interest in change is growing among more people than ever.
Homeschooling is gaining popularity, with 16% of public-school parents and 10% of private-school parents looking at this avenue for the fall. Despite a slight decline from previous polling, when 21% of parents were considering homeschooling at the end of May and 19% of private school parents were considering it at the end of April, interest far exceeds the estimated 3% of children who are homeschooled nationally.
Sixty-two percent of public-school parents are considering a move to a different school, with 25% saying they may switch to a different public school and 21% weighing private school as an option for their children.
Seventy-five percent of private-school parents are considering a similar change. Of those, 41% say they may transition to a different private school, and 24% have expressed interest in public school.
State Policy Network is working with Heart + Mind Strategies to track the American public through this time of upheaval and change. The Heart + Mind Strategies’ Coronavirus Tracking Poll has been fielded weekly since March 18-19. In June, the polling schedule shifted to bi-weekly with the most recent field dates of June 24-25 informing this article. These quantitative surveys are conducted online with an average sample of 1,000. Quotas were used to ensure a representative population on age, gender, ethnicity, and region.