You’ve probably heard about learning pods sometime over the past year. This parent-led, innovative education method exploded in popularity during the pandemic. In fact, according to an EdChoice poll, 35 percent of school parents participated in a learning pod this past fall. And they’re quite popular: 72 percent of parents agree that pods enhance our public education system.
But did you know that as learning pods became more popular, state lawmakers started to issue rules that limited their size and scope?
Some officials asserted that pods should be treated like at-home daycare centers, which means that pod families would have to obtain a license or register with the state. Others issued rules on how many families can participate in a pod or banned parents from paying each other for the use of a home. By November 2020, 19 states had imposed new or expanded regulations on pods that made it harder for families to access this education solution.
To help these families continue to use this education method, a network of state policy organizations started to encourage lawmakers to adopt legislation that would protect pods from overregulation. Because of their familiarity with local communities and their needs, this network is had seen firsthand how important learning pods were to parents and students in their states.
To accelerate the adoption of learning pod protections, State Policy Network organized a Working Group, bringing together state-based policy organizations to develop specific recommendations and educate state lawmakers about why protecting pods should be among their priorities. This group considered approaches, shared best practices, and learned from one another as they worked to empower parental choice and student success through the preservation of learning pods. SPN also hosted trainings and offered grant funding to help think tanks bring this solution to their home states quickly.
The Georgia Public Policy Foundation (GPPF) made learning pod protection a top issue during Georgia’s legislative session. GPPF published one-pagers, op-eds, and blog posts that explained why it’s so important to safeguard learning pods in Georgia. These efforts informed and emboldened lawmakers in the Peach State. In the 2021 legislative session, Georgia became the first state in the nation to pass legislation prohibiting state regulation of learning pods. Called the Learning Pods Protection Act, this legislation defines a learning pod in state law and clarifies pods are not schools—so they cannot be regulated as such.
GPPF CEO Kyle Wingfield added: “By ensuring that this innovative, flexible approach will remain unregulated, lawmakers are ensuring Georgia’s families will have options when they need them most.”
After a tumultuous year of remote learning, school closures, and learning loss, parents are eager for alternative education options for their children. They should be empowered to make the best education decision for their kids, whether that’s a private, public, charter, homeschool—or even learning pod.
Congratulations to the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, as well as to leaders in Texas and Lousiana, for ensuring pod learning will continue to be an option for thousands of families.
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