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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Why they left district schools -- and aren't coming back

Seven parents tell Washington Post Magazine why they left district-run public schools for private school or homeschooling.

"Since 2019, private enrollment is up, public enrollment is down and home schooling has become more popular," write John D. Harden and Steven Johnson. "The government projects that K-12 public school enrollment — already facing demographic pressures — will drop further to about 46 million students by fall 2030, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, reversing decades of growth."

One mother, Michelle Chang, 44, of Fairfax, Virginia chose private school, yet doesn't "think people should have this option."

We enrolled our children in private school due to the pandemic. I could see my then-rising second-grader’s mental health and ability to absorb info were negatively impacted. We would have returned to that public school but wound up moving during the pandemic and decided to keep our children in the private school.
I don’t think people should have this option. I think everyone should attend public school with limited exceptions and that doing so creates a more cohesive society. I struggle with this decision because I believe I’m contributing to the failure of public schools and society, but, honestly, public education is failing anyway. My children might be better positioned, but I question the future society we’re preparing them for.
The Kim family were able to take an off-season vacation in Europe due to their flexible homeschooling schedule.

Districts that stayed closed the longest lost the most students, concludes a new analysis. Those that provided the most in-person instruction "saw the smallest declines in 2020-21 and regained much of those losses in 2021-22."

Homeschooling is working for Sandra Kim's elementary-age children, she writes in Newsweek. There's less chaos, less busy work and more learning and playing.

Zoom school was a flop in 2020 for her three children, then 12, 8 and 6. In the fall, after researching curricula online and with homeschool moms, the Kims began homeschooling. When their old schools reopened in 2021, they decided not to send them back because they were doing so well.

Every day, we drill down into the basics: reading, writing and arithmetic. So they practice math, write in their journal, and read. Those are the non-negotiables. And then on Mondays, for instance, we do Science, and on Thursdays we read History.

Because there's so little time wasted, her children can move faster than they did in the classroom, leaving more time for reading a book, writing a story, playing outside or going on a family hike.

Her son, who was bored in the classroom, is enthusiastic about homeschooling. Her middle child missed going to the local school with neighborhood friends. The family connected to homeschool co-op groups for sports, field trips and writing class, her son plays on a basketball team and all three are in Scouts.

They decided to send their now 14-year-old daughter to a small private school this year, even though she wanted to continue homeschooling. "She was way too comfortable being at home with us — so we wanted her to have more of those relationships, interactions and to get involved in high school sports," writes Kim. "She can't just live at home with us in this bubble."

Boston Public Schools have lost students every year for the last eight years, reports the Boston Globe. The drop is sharpest for black students, who seem to be leaving for charter schools.

"Families of color (are) heading out the door," writes Alexi Cohan on GBH News.

Latoya Gayle has a child in college, another in second grade and two in between. She's seen little change in the school system. "Change takes time but whose time? My kids don't have that time and I don't have that time so I'm not going to waste it," Gayle said on Greater Boston. She's moved two of her children from district schools to charters.

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