1680 (Author at Cato Institute) https://www.cato.org/ en More Taxpayer Money for More Sheepskins? Bad Idea https://www.cato.org/blog/more-taxpayer-money-more-sheepskins-bad-idea Neal McCluskey <p>It hasn’t been much discussed in the presidential campaign—personality, scandal, and COVID-19 have dominated that—but the idea of spending big taxpayer bucks for “free” college still looms. The Biden campaign <a href="https://joebiden.com/beyondhs/">is proposing</a> free tuition at four‐​year public colleges for anyone in families earning less than $125,000 a year, and free community college for all, among many promises to lavish taxpayer money on ivory towers. The basic justification seems intuitive: education is good, more education must be better.</p> <p>But “intuition” and “reality” are not always the same, and pushing more money and people into college in the name of “education” would be like shoveling raw meat into an obese dog in the name of “nutrition.” You can have way too much of a basically good thing.</p> <p>Let’s start with some money info.</p> <p>The way the argument goes for drastically increased federal higher education funding is that colleges have had to suck more and more money out of students as state and local governments, which directly fund public four‐​year institutions and community colleges, have been cutting their subsidies. But that is <em>not</em> what the data show.</p> <p>The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) helpfully publishes <a href="https://shef.sheeo.org/data-downloads/">lots of data</a> on public college finances going back to 1980. What they show is that public colleges have increased what they take in through student charges far beyond what they have needed to make up for any lost state and local revenue. This is the case whether inflation is adjusted using the <a href="https://sheeo.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Technical_Paper_A_HECA_1.pdf">Higher Education Cost Adjustment</a> (HECA), which is supposed to pinpoint costs faced by colleges, or the <a href="https://www.bls.gov/cpi/questions-and-answers.htm#Question_2">Consumer Price Index</a> (CPI), which is based on a basket of goods and services families and individuals typically consume. HECA tends to indicate smaller revenue gains for colleges because the prices in its bundle of goods and services have risen faster than what is tracked with CPI, making adjusted past‐​year costs seem higher.</p> <p>In terms of overall revenue, as you can see below, public colleges have done far more than just make up for lost state and local support. Using HECA, state and local support rose from about $72 billion in 1980 to more than $103 billion in 2019. Meanwhile, revenue through tuition and fees, net of aid using state and institutional funds, went from $16 billion to $75 billion. Both rose markedly, taking total, inflation‐​adjusted revenue from $88 billion to $178 billion. Using CPI (not shown) the total increases were even bigger.</p> <p> </p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="a8153f54-7e5b-403b-aa80-a46492e34ded" class="align-center embedded-entity" data-langcode="en"> <img srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-10/Tot%20Rev%20HECA.png?itok=D0_FOahB 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/2020-10/Tot%20Rev%20HECA.png?itok=t8MIvZkz 1.5x" width="641" height="466" src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-10/Tot%20Rev%20HECA.png?itok=D0_FOahB" alt="Total public college revenue, inflation adjusted using the Higher Education Cost Adjustment" typeof="Image" class="component-image" /></div> <p>On an absolute basis, state &amp; local governments have not gotten increasingly tight‐​fisted. How about on a per‐​student basis?</p> <p>Here one could say that state &amp; local governments haven’t kept up, but only using HECA. And it still does not explain increased revenue through students.</p> <p>Using HECA, state and local support per student dropped from $10,450 to $9,460 because of huge enrollment increases: from about 6.9 million full‐​time equivalent students to almost 11 million. Meanwhile, per‐​student tuition revenue rose from $2,292 to $6,902. So while state and local support fell $990, money through students rose by $4,610. Even using the index “friendliest” to higher ed, the idea colleges have just been keeping their heads above water is bunk.</p> <p> </p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="c42b0475-9d47-4026-873d-725fddbe9720" class="align-center embedded-entity" data-langcode="en"> <img srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-10/Tot%20Rev%20PP%20HECA.png?itok=Il5H3qcM 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/2020-10/Tot%20Rev%20PP%20HECA.png?itok=S0Ca1ZkZ 1.5x" width="641" height="466" src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-10/Tot%20Rev%20PP%20HECA.png?itok=Il5H3qcM" alt="Total public college revenue per student, adjusted for inflation using the Higher Education Cost Adjustment" typeof="Image" class="component-image" /></div> <p>Using CPI, state and local spending <em>rose</em> per student, from $8,803 to $9,460, while revenue through students ballooned from $1,931 to $6,902. So state and local contributions went up $657 and through students $4,971.</p> <p> </p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="1fe400f0-05a5-411a-ba7a-93c939d36010" class="align-center embedded-entity" data-langcode="en"> <img srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-10/Tot%20Rev%20PP%20CPI_0.png?itok=hZTnFRqo 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/2020-10/Tot%20Rev%20PP%20CPI_0.png?itok=80G0Zjvk 1.5x" width="642" height="466" src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-10/Tot%20Rev%20PP%20CPI_0.png?itok=hZTnFRqo" alt="Total Revenue per Student, CPI" typeof="Image" class="component-image" /></div> <p>Were those big enrollment increases off of which colleges made big bucks at least worthwhile? Did they provide much needed human capital to the American economy? The data are clear: No. We have a glut of degrees, not a deficit.</p> <p>The first thing we know is that, as the New York Fed has reported, about one‐​third of people with degrees are in <a href="https://www.newyorkfed.org/research/college-labor-market/college-labor-market_underemployment_rates.html">jobs that do not require them</a>, and this has been consistently the case since 1990.</p> <p> </p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="411a68c9-b2be-4f1f-99c2-462efa75b7d7" class="align-center embedded-entity" data-langcode="en"> <img srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-10/Underemploymment.png?itok=U7E51m2e 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/2020-10/Underemploymment.png?itok=7KUkmri3 1.5x" width="670" height="519" src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-10/Underemploymment.png?itok=U7E51m2e" alt="Underemployment of college grads" typeof="Image" class="component-image" /></div> <p>But isn’t that going to change? Not anytime soon according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, which show that only about <a href="https://www.bls.gov/emp/tables/education-summary.htm">38 percent of jobs currently require</a> <em>any</em> formal postsecondary education for entry, and only 27 percent require a bachelor’s degree or higher. Yet almost 70 percent of <a href="https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d19/tables/dt19_302.10.asp?current=yes">recent high school completers</a> enroll in college. By 2029 the BLS predicts no substantial change in the share of jobs requiring any formal postsecondary ed for entry, with the total rising only to 39 percent, and bachelor’s or higher only to about 28 percent. And even if we see more employers asking for degrees for <a href="https://www.burning-glass.com/research-project/credentials-gap/">more job openings</a> it might just be due to a flood of degrees making that easy, not employers hotly pursuing a bunch of valuable, new human capital. As <a href="https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2007480">literacy rates</a> in 1992 and 2003 show, college grads and above saw big literacy drops, strongly suggesting degree inflation: more degrees represent less learning on average.</p> <p> </p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="e28a1938-3396-4339-b1d2-74ccbc337610" class="align-center embedded-entity" data-langcode="en"> <img srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-10/Education%20Job%20Changes.png?itok=MvGLBoW6 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/2020-10/Education%20Job%20Changes.png?itok=IbcXBnme 1.5x" width="700" height="242" src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-10/Education%20Job%20Changes.png?itok=MvGLBoW6" alt="Employment projections by entry-level education requirements" typeof="Image" class="component-image" /></div> <div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="7460c167-129f-4139-8a27-1e8b7fb393d3" class="align-center embedded-entity" data-langcode="en"> <img srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-10/Literacy1.png?itok=N1VR1_Bz 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/2020-10/Literacy1.png?itok=y3DRA6EG 1.5x" width="598" height="525" src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-10/Literacy1.png?itok=N1VR1_Bz" alt="National Assessment of Adult Literacy" typeof="Image" class="component-image" /></div> <div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="310bf057-c33e-44a4-9d4d-deec9fd89407" class="align-center embedded-entity" data-langcode="en"> <img srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-10/Lieracy2.png?itok=Qv7aevOp 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/2020-10/Lieracy2.png?itok=80CpiRS4 1.5x" width="287" height="503" src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-10/Lieracy2.png?itok=Qv7aevOp" alt="National Assessment of Adult Literacy 2" typeof="Image" class="component-image" /></div> <p>The evidence does not support the federal government paying for more people to go to college. Indeed, it points the opposite way – society would be better off with far less emphasis on the collection of sheepskins.</p> Mon, 19 Oct 2020 10:01:55 -0400 Neal McCluskey https://www.cato.org/blog/more-taxpayer-money-more-sheepskins-bad-idea Neal McCluskey discusses the proposals to make college free on WWL’s First News with Tommy Tucker https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/neal-mccluskey-discusses-proposals-make-college-free-wwls-first Wed, 14 Oct 2020 12:27:59 -0400 Neal McCluskey https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/neal-mccluskey-discusses-proposals-make-college-free-wwls-first Update on The State of Private Schools under COVID-19 https://www.cato.org/blog/update-state-private-schools-under-covid-19 Neal McCluskey <p>Launching the Center for Educational Freedom’s new book <em><a href="https://www.cato.org/books/school-choice-myths">School Choice Myths: Setting the Record Straight on Education Freedom</a></em> has taken up a lot of my time over the last couple of weeks, so I haven’t been able to post a summary of our data on the health of private schooling under COVID-19. But it’s not too late to pull it together, even as the state of K-12 schooling continues to evolve.</p> <p><strong>Closures</strong></p> <p>The good news is we have not seen the kill‐​off of private schools that many—<a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/private-schools-face-existential-threat?queryID=8cbe323e7da1a4c43fc14514bf6ffee5">myself included</a>—feared at the outset of lockdowns. Our <a href="https://www.cato.org/covid-19-permanent-private-closures">permanent closure tracker</a> has not recorded a COVID‐​connected closing since September 1 and the total stands at 116 schools, reduced to 111 when school consolidations are considered. That is a tiny fraction of the nation’s approximately 32,500 private schools containing at least one grade K-12.</p> <p> </p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="eed6099c-b8ac-44ad-a4fa-96e0c908f38f" class="align-center embedded-entity" data-langcode="en"> <img srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-10/Closure%20Date%201013.png?itok=XSpdN6GC 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/2020-10/Closure%20Date%201013.png?itok=GO2yBL0w 1.5x" width="700" height="158" src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-10/Closure%20Date%201013.png?itok=XSpdN6GC" alt="Permanent Private School COVID Closures by Date 101320" typeof="Image" class="component-image" /></div> <p>Of course, it is entirely possible that some permanent closures have not come to our attention. Many private schools are very small—almost <a href="https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d19/tables/dt19_205.40.asp?current=yes">a third</a> have fewer than 50 students—and some schools may have ceased operations without any public announcement.</p> <p>In early September we conducted a survey of 400 private schools randomly selected from the federal <a href="https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/pss/pssdata.asp">Private School Universe</a> database and found 6 that had closed since the data was collected in the 2017–18 school year. 4 appear to have closed in 2020, but only 1 with an explicit connection to COVID, 1 before COVID, and 2 announced during the lockdown period but with unknown COVID connections. That suggests that less than 1 percent of private schools have closed due to COVID, consistent with our tracker numbers.</p> <p><strong>Enrollment</strong></p> <p>We have also seen private schools lose students, as anticipated. It is difficult for many people to pay tuition when they can access “free” public schools, for which, of course, they have had to pay taxes. It is even harder when families have suffered income reductions and the service was forced online and, hence, was of probably somewhat compromised quality.</p> <p>According to <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/survey-about-half-private-schools-see-decreased-enrollment">our survey</a>, about 57 percent of private schools saw enrollment reductions between the previous school year and early‐ to mid‐​September of this year, with 24 percent seeing an increase and 19 percent no change. On average, responding schools lost 14 students, or about a 6 percent enrollment reduction. Those numbers include pre‐​K students, which many schools with kindergarten and above often have. Set aside pre‐​K enrollment and roughly 47 percent of private schools saw declining enrollment, 33 percent increasing, and 21 percent no change. On average schools lost about 6 students.</p> <p> </p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="1d40e5f6-778a-45ff-b9d5-3d304173a005" class="align-center embedded-entity" data-langcode="en"> <img srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-10/Survey%20w%20prk.png?itok=0ekguAnW 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/2020-10/Survey%20w%20prk.png?itok=LHf-x0Rk 1.5x" width="632" height="451" src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-10/Survey%20w%20prk.png?itok=0ekguAnW" alt="Private school enrollment changes with pre-k" typeof="Image" class="component-image" /></div> <p>The 6 percent loss when including pre‐​K students would translate into a loss nationally of about 343,000 students from the most recent federal tally of <a href="https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d19/tables/dt19_205.10.asp?current=yes">total private school enrollment</a>, which was from 2017.</p> <p>This trimming of students—many of whom are <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/troubling-covid-19-report-private-schools?queryID=a20cda9ea7fa31a5e50f0ffcef61d797">likely homeschooling</a>, at least temporarily—has not, apparently, been catastrophic for most schools, and numbers have likely been in flux as public school policies have evolved. But many private schools have thin margins and might not be able to sustain many more losses. As WORLD Radio noted in a <a href="https://worldandeverything.org/2020/09/christian-schools-enjoy-pandemic-boon/">story about Christian schools</a> under COVID, which have seen similar enrollment trends to what we found for all privates, “Losing 7 percent of the student body may not sound like a lot, but for Christian schools that operate on tight margins those losses add up.”</p> <p><strong>Conclusion</strong></p> <p>Private schools are not folding at the rate we feared, but they are hurting, even as they have <a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/study/decentralize-k-12-education#private-versus-public-schools">responded more quickly to families</a> than have public schools. To retain these diverse institutions—and much more importantly, the ability to choose—money needs to follow children, whether it is via any federal relief that might come down the pike, or state education funding. We need to stop funding institutions and start funding children.</p> Tue, 13 Oct 2020 13:10:40 -0400 Neal McCluskey https://www.cato.org/blog/update-state-private-schools-under-covid-19 Education Pandemonium: Schooling in the Age of COVID-19 (Part 3) https://www.cato.org/multimedia/cato-video/education-pandemonium-schooling-age-covid-19-part-3 Neal McCluskey <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Government is supposed to ensure that everybody can access an education, but it also goes one step further, and it provides that education, what we call “public schools”.</p> <p>Most authority over education is at the state and local levels. The federal government has only gotten significantly involved in education in the last 50 or 60&nbsp;years, and it has no constitutional authority to govern an education.</p> <p>The Constitution gives the federal government specific enumerated powers, those are the only ones it has, and nowhere among those will you see education.</p> </div> Mon, 12 Oct 2020 16:19:27 -0400 Neal McCluskey https://www.cato.org/multimedia/cato-video/education-pandemonium-schooling-age-covid-19-part-3 School Choice Myths: Setting the Record Straight on Education Freedom https://www.cato.org/multimedia/events/school-choice-myths-setting-record-straight-education-freedom Patrick J. Wolf, Tim Keller, Inez Feltscher Stepman, Benjamin Scafidi, Corey A. DeAngelis, Neal McCluskey <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>School choice has grown a&nbsp;lot since 1990—from zero kids taking public education funds to private schools to over a&nbsp;half million doing so—but progress has been slow. One reason: a&nbsp;constant drumbeat of myths, including that choice cripples public schools, undermines democracy, and leaves poor kids behind. In the new Cato book <em>School Choice Myths: Setting the Record Straight on Education Freedom</em>, top scholars dispel 12 of the most pernicious myths. The book will be officially released on October 7, and several contributors will be available to respond to your questions and comments.</p> </div> Wed, 07 Oct 2020 09:53:52 -0400 Patrick J. Wolf, Tim Keller, Inez Feltscher Stepman, Benjamin Scafidi, Corey A. DeAngelis, Neal McCluskey https://www.cato.org/multimedia/events/school-choice-myths-setting-record-straight-education-freedom Corey A. DeAngelis discusses his book, “School Choice Myths,” on the Jay Sekulow Show https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/corey-deangelis-discusses-book-school-choice-myths-jay-sekulow-show Tue, 06 Oct 2020 11:48:21 -0400 Corey A. DeAngelis, Neal McCluskey https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/corey-deangelis-discusses-book-school-choice-myths-jay-sekulow-show For the Constitution’s Sake, Keep Federal Hands off the 1619 Project https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/constitutions-sake-keep-federal-hands-1619-project Neal McCluskey <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>With presidential debate fireworks and the battle to replace Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, it is easy to forget that on Sept. 17, Constitution Day, President Trump&nbsp;<a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-white-house-conference-american-history/" target="_blank">proposed something</a>&nbsp;unconstitutional. At the National Archives, where the Constitution is on display, Trump attacked the&nbsp;<em>New York Times’s</em>&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/14/magazine/1619-america-slavery.html?mtrref=www.google.com&amp;gwh=73A9FB68F73F6B418D861F1078BC9F29&amp;gwt=pay&amp;assetType=PAYWALL" target="_blank">1619 Project</a>&nbsp;and other “deceptions, falsehoods, and lies” propagated by “the Left” while promising to create a&nbsp;national commission to foster “patriotic education.” It was in line with other recent Republican actions, including&nbsp;<a href="https://www.cotton.senate.gov/files/documents/200723%20Saving%20American%20History%20Act.pdf" target="_blank">legislation</a>&nbsp;to reduce federal education dollars to public schools that choose to teach the 1619 Project.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>These actions are both unconstitutional and threaten to take the painful, fever‐​pitch anger of our national politics and inject it into our children’s classrooms.</p> <p>The Constitution gives the federal government only&nbsp;<a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/federal-education-think-progress-should-think-harder" target="_blank">specific, enumerated powers</a>, and nowhere among them is authority to pay or not pay to advance or impede interpretations of history. It applies even if you really,&nbsp;<em>really</em>&nbsp;hate the hotly contested 1619 Project, which “aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.”</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>Whenever government decides what should be taught, or what is “right” history, it is a&nbsp;threat to liberty and harmony, as well as truth‐​seeking </p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Not only do Republicans violate the Constitution with legislative attacks on the 1619 Project, they force all of us into a&nbsp;national, and intensely personal, schooling war.</p> <p>For some people, the 1619 Project is liberating, revealing the immense but often overlooked suffering and injustice committed against their ancestors, with continued repercussions today. For others, it feels like an attack on them personally and on a&nbsp;country that has its flaws but is grounded in fundamentally good and cherished ideals.</p> <p>There are also, of course, numerous disagreements about facts and interpretations, as there always are given that no one is all‐​knowing. They range from the importance of slavery in economic development to whether a&nbsp;desire to preserve slavery fueled the American Revolution.</p> <p>Whenever government, which is ultimately backed by a&nbsp;legal right to jail or even kill, decides what should be taught, or what is “right” history, it is a&nbsp;threat to liberty and harmony, as well as truth‐​seeking. As illustrated by the Cato Institute’s&nbsp;<a href="https://www.cato.org/education-fight-map" target="_blank">Public Schooling Battle Map</a>&nbsp;(a repository of thousands of values‐ and identity‐​based conflicts), when government requires diverse people to pay for a&nbsp;single school system, it forces them into political combat to determine who will get the education they want, and who will&nbsp;<em>not</em>.</p> <p>Such combat is not only inherently divisive, the stakes of losing are ultimately inequality under the law. You may, for instance, think your child needs to know about the treatment of people of his or her race over the centuries. Too bad if people with more political power have decided otherwise. You do not get equal treatment.</p> <p>Zero‐​sum conflicts and their aftermath are terrible wherever they occur. But the worst possible battleground, as we are seeing outside of education, is a&nbsp;national one, leaving no one unscathed.</p> <p>That said, while the immediate threat is Republicans like Trump going too far in attacking the 1619 Project and promoting essentially “official” history, both parties bear huge responsibility for where we are today.</p> <p>The first major federal foray into education was driven by Democratic President Lyndon Johnson, who spearheaded the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.lbjlibrary.org/lyndon-baines-johnson/timeline/johnsons-remarks-on-signing-the-elementary-and-secondary-education-act" target="_blank">Elementary and Secondary Education Act</a>&nbsp;that pushed federal money (the lever to exert power) into schools. In the 1980s and early 1990s, Republicans drove things, ramping up&nbsp;<a href="https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/1987/11/18/07360019.h07.html" target="_blank">national testing</a>&nbsp;under President Ronald Reagan and creating national&nbsp;<a href="https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED327985" target="_blank">education goals</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/1995/11/15/11hist.h15.html" target="_blank">curricular standards</a>&nbsp;under President George H.W. Bush, then&nbsp;<a href="https://clinton.presidentiallibraries.us/exhibits/show/education-reform/goals-esea" target="_blank">carried on</a>&nbsp;by Democratic President Bill Clinton. The&nbsp;<a href="https://ballotpedia.org/No_Child_Left_Behind_Act" target="_blank">No Child Left Behind Act</a>&nbsp;of 2001, which held schools “accountable” with mandatory state standardized testing, was bipartisan, and the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/misinformed-about-common-core-indeed" target="_blank">Common Core</a>&nbsp;national curricular standards of the 2010s had Republican and Democratic supporters.</p> <p>By shoving aside the Constitution, both major parties have put us on the brink of federal control of how our national story is told. Such control by government, not people freely exchanging and debating ideas, cannot be allowed. For the sake of peace, equality, and the rule of law, federal politicians must stay out of America’s history classes.</p> </div> Mon, 05 Oct 2020 14:25:14 -0400 Neal McCluskey https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/constitutions-sake-keep-federal-hands-1619-project We Can Help You, Samantha Bee! https://www.cato.org/blog/we-can-help-you-samantha-bee Neal McCluskey <p>Dear <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samantha_Bee">comedian and television host</a> Samantha Bee,</p> <p>From <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Es8Uy_8Gnto&amp;feature=youtu.be">this new video</a>, I see you have worries about school choice. I get it. We all hear lots of <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Willy">scary stories about freedom</a>. But I have good news for you – we have what you need to sleep well at night (other than watching your show, of course)!</p> <p>This Wednesday, you could get a free copy of Cato’s new book <em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/School-Choice-Myths-Straight-Education/dp/1948647907">School Choice Myths</a></em>, signed by editors Corey DeAngelis and me, that will give you everything you need to see that school choice isn’t the boogeyman. It’s much more like Hulu, Apple TV, and YouTube—those terrific things that enable us to watch not just government TV, but countless shows of <em>our</em> choosing. You know, shows like yours—<em><a href="https://www.tumblr.com/search/i%20love%20samantha%20bee">especially<strong> <span>yours</span></strong></a></em>—rather than just <em>PBS NewsHour</em>, or <em>Antiques Roadshow</em>, or whatever the British Broadcasting Company—not even our <em>own </em>broadcasting company—deigns to let us colonists <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-9M69-rdE8">watch</a>.</p> <p>Anyway, how can you get that coveted, free signed copy of <em>School Choice Myths</em>? Register for our online <a href="https://www.cato.org/events/school-choice-myths-setting-record-straight-education-freedom">launch event this Wednesday</a>, where not only will you get the book if you submit a question or comment that Corey and I select as one of the best (hint: we won’t know if your writing staff helped!) but you’ll get lots of great information from our expert panel of contributors, also for free!</p> <p> </p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="495673f3-6952-4737-8744-7c7283475714" class="align-center embedded-entity" data-langcode="en"> <img srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-10/Win%20free%20book.jpg?itok=CG9GksqQ 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/2020-10/Win%20free%20book.jpg?itok=fAktX-X3 1.5x" width="480" height="480" src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-10/Win%20free%20book.jpg?itok=CG9GksqQ" alt="Free School Choice Myths Contest ad" typeof="Image" class="component-image" /></div> <p>You really can’t lose!</p> <p>Of course, you may not win the contest and then would have to buy the book, but it would be well worth the price to set your mind at ease:</p> <ul><li>Worry that school choice programs are unaccountable: Read chapter nine!</li> <li>Think kids remaining in public schools get left behind: See chapters six, seven, eight, and eleven!</li> <li>Despair over “free market fundamentalism”: Not sure what that means, but enjoy chapters ten and twelve (and the entire book if you really just mean “freedom”)!</li> <li>Too much religion (or something like that): Chapters one, three, and four!</li> <li>“Sell our kids off to the free market”: That sounds, like, <em>Hunger Games</em>-level horrible. Oh, the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCZZKCBxNwk">images in your mind</a>! Anyway, see chapter five.</li> </ul><p>Ms. Bee, all of us at Cato’s Center for Educational Freedom want you to feel better. We hope you’ll tune in Wednesday, and if you’re really on your game, maybe your question or comment will make you a winner—and finally of something you won’t <a href="https://deadline.com/2017/09/samantha-bee-donald-trump-creative-arts-emmys-win-writing-variety-special-not-correspondents-dinner-1202165626/">just shove in a closet</a>.</p> <p>Sincerely,</p> <p>Neal McCluskey and all of us here at Cato CEF</p> Mon, 05 Oct 2020 14:17:44 -0400 Neal McCluskey https://www.cato.org/blog/we-can-help-you-samantha-bee Neal McCluskey discusses school reopenings and COVID-19 on CBN’s NewsWatch https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/neal-mccluskey-discusses-school-reopenings-covid-19-cbns-newswatch Tue, 29 Sep 2020 10:56:59 -0400 Neal McCluskey https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/neal-mccluskey-discusses-school-reopenings-covid-19-cbns-newswatch Survey: Roughly Half of Private Schools See Decreased Enrollment https://www.cato.org/blog/survey-about-half-private-schools-see-decreased-enrollment Neal McCluskey <p>During the first few months of COVID-19 lockdowns, supporters of private schooling feared that the sector would take a huge enrollment, financial, and ultimately existential hit. During the summer, however, fears subsided. Cato’s tracker of <a href="https://www.cato.org/covid-19-permanent-private-closures">COVID‐​related private school closings</a> grew to almost 120 schools, but nowhere near mass extinction. And as public schools increasingly announced that they would only operate online to start the new year, <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/why-not-more-private-school-closures-increasing-evidence-suggests-theyre-offering-person?queryID=a29dd50f5e5387f0cdac068647e68178">anecdotal evidence</a> suggested ramped‐​up private school demand. Meanwhile, national surveys offered <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/private-schools-covid-enrollment-winners-or-losers?queryID=e8f69ed73731ce2a06921993a4d57e5e">mixed clues</a> as to what might be happening to private schools.</p> <p>To get a quick but more concrete sense of the start‐​of‐​the‐​year enrollment situation, Cato’s Center for Educational Freedom conducted a survey from September 9 to the 18<sup>th</sup> of 400 private schools with a highest grade of kindergarten or higher, randomly selected from the federal <a href="https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/pss/">Private School Universe</a> database. We asked only if a school’s enrollment had increased, decreased, or stayed the same from the previous school year, and by how many students it may have changed including and excluding pre‐​K students.</p> <p>As shown below, we found that when pre‐​K students are included, 57 percent of schools lost enrollment between last school year and the current one, 24 percent saw an increase, and 19 percent remained unchanged.</p> <p> </p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="6f14bc38-5711-4172-80e7-31de94016864" class="align-center embedded-entity" data-langcode="en"> <img srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-09/Survey%20w%20prk.png?itok=6HxyAAD5 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/2020-09/Survey%20w%20prk.png?itok=rsvRwphF 1.5x" width="632" height="451" src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-09/Survey%20w%20prk.png?itok=6HxyAAD5" alt="Private school enrollment changes with pre-k" typeof="Image" class="component-image" /></div> <p>Excluding pre‐​K students—so just looking at students in the K-12 range—47 percent lost students, 33 percent increased, and 21 percent were unchanged.</p> <p> </p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="ee3a1863-1ae9-45c9-b5e6-20f6bd86a60d" class="align-center embedded-entity" data-langcode="en"> <img srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-09/Survey%20wo%20prek.png?itok=jw25ZW61 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/2020-09/Survey%20wo%20prek.png?itok=rINKyYue 1.5x" width="631" height="457" src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-09/Survey%20wo%20prek.png?itok=jw25ZW61" alt="Private school enrollment changes without pre-k" typeof="Image" class="component-image" /></div> <p>What do enrollment numbers look like? Including pre‐​K students, the average school lost slightly fewer than 14 students, and without pre‐​K the average loss approached 6 students. To put those losses in context, the average school that responded to our survey enrolled about 225 students, including pre‐​K, according to the most recent enrollment data we could find. So they experienced, on average, roughly a 6 percent enrollment loss. The range of changes was large, from a gain of 90 students to a loss of 137. Not including pre‐​K students, the range was a gain of 75 to a loss of 100.</p> <p>Note that one school that replied to our survey closed due to COVID-19. It is included in calculations of shares of schools with increasing, decreasing, or unchanged enrollments but <em>not</em> specific numbers. That school has been added to the closure tracker.</p> <p>There are important limits to this survey. We conducted it quickly to begin filling a vacuum of information on how private schools were faring as the school year began. We only received 62 usable surveys—a 16 percent response rate—yielding a margin of error of +/- 12 percentage. We did not receive changes specifically for non‐​pre‐​K students from 4 schools that had pre‐​K students, so results excluding pre‐​K students are for only 58 schools, yielding a margin of error of +/- 13 percent. Also, we gathered total previous enrollment data from several sources that might be older than the previous year—we asked schools only for net gain or loss figures—and a handful of losses would be larger than the possibly old total enrollment recorded. We kept numbers as reported. Finally, while the 400 schools contacted were randomly selected, it is not clear that responses were not skewed in some way. That said, one check—the share of schools that are Catholic—suggested responses were close to representative: 21 percent were Catholic, almost exactly matching the Catholic share of all private schools according to <a href="https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d19/tables/dt19_205.50.asp?current=yes">recent federal figures</a>. Similarly, Baptist schools composed about 5 percent of our respondents and account for roughly 5 percent of all private schools.</p> <p>Of course, better polling as the year goes on and deeper analysis are needed, but these findings help provide some broad, early insight into 2020–21 effects of COVID-19 on private schools.</p> Mon, 28 Sep 2020 10:05:45 -0400 Neal McCluskey https://www.cato.org/blog/survey-about-half-private-schools-see-decreased-enrollment Both Libs and Cons Have Driven Us to Trump’s “Patriotic Education” https://www.cato.org/blog/both-libs-cons-have-driven-us-trumps-patriotic-education Neal McCluskey <p>When President Donald Trump<a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-white-house-conference-american-history/"> announced </a>that he would sign an executive order creating a&nbsp;commission to promote “patriotic education,” there was much outrage, including “Hitler Youth” and “Trump Youth” <a href="https://www.npr.org/2020/09/17/914127266/trump-announces-patriotic-education-commission-a-largely-political-move">trending</a> on <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=hitler%20youth&amp;src=typed_query">Twitter</a>. We do not know exactly what the promised executive order will contain, but worries about the federal government putting unacceptable things into children’s minds are utterly understandable. And this is not just a&nbsp;conservative or liberal problem: both sides are to blame for the real and present danger of federally approved thought.</p> <p>Both liberals and conservatives have for decades been shoving power over education toward Washington. In the 1960s the feds ignored <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/federal-education-think-progress-should-think-harder">a&nbsp;clear absence of authority</a> to govern in education and started spending big on schools. That may have been driven largely by liberals such as President <a href="http://www.lbjlibrary.org/lyndon-baines-johnson/timeline/johnsons-remarks-on-signing-the-elementary-and-secondary-education-act">Lyndon Johnson</a>, but conservatives got deeply into the game in the 1980s, with highly energetic Secretary of Education William Bennett using his bully pulpit, and <a href="https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/1987/03/25/26naep.h06.html">federal testing</a>, to push reform from DC. The first President Bush called a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.the74million.org/series/charlottesville30/">summit of governors</a> and created a “national education strategy” with <a href="https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED327985">America 2000</a>, which President Clinton – with whom Bush closely collaborated – turned into <a href="https://www2.ed.gov/legislation/GOALS2000/TheAct/index.html">Goals 2000</a>. The second President Bush championed the bipartisan <a href="https://www2.ed.gov/nclb/landing.jhtml">No Child Left Behind Act</a>, through which the federal government solidified a&nbsp;national regime of standardized testing and “accountability.” And lots of conservatives and liberals, including President Obama, pushed the federally coerced <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/getting-common-core-federal-facts-right">Common Core curriculum standards</a>, while Obama also tried to impose federal answers on <a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/should-feds-decide-transgender-bathroom-issue">hotly disputed social issues</a>.</p> <p>Lots of good intentions inspired these actions, but the ultimate result <a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/those-who-wanted-federal-power-over-schools-now-fear-betsy-devos-might-use">was predictable</a>: federal power would be be used to impose on <em>all </em>Americans things that only <em>some </em>Americans could accept. We would even take the kinds of highly personal—and especially painful—values and identity‐​based conflicts <a href="https://www.cato.org/education-fight-map">we see constantly</a> in one‐​size‐​fits‐​all public schools, including over American history, to a&nbsp;national level. Families would not even be able to move to a&nbsp;new district or state to escape unacceptable teaching – everyone would have to engage in political warfare to make their values, or takes on history, the winner.</p> <p>By ignoring the Constitution, we have torn down the bulwark intended to protect us from rule by a&nbsp;single government, or a&nbsp;single person. And not just conservatives or liberals are to blame – both sides have dirty hands.</p> Fri, 18 Sep 2020 12:46:41 -0400 Neal McCluskey https://www.cato.org/blog/both-libs-cons-have-driven-us-trumps-patriotic-education Pandemics and Policy: Decentralize K–12 Education https://www.cato.org/multimedia/cato-daily-podcast/pandemics-policy-decentralize-k-12-education Neal McCluskey, Caleb O. Brown <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>For students and parents hoping to return to a&nbsp;normal schooling environment, state lawmakers should be providing as much flexibility in the meantime as possible. Neal McCluskey discusses his recommendations from his&nbsp;<a href="https://www.cato.org/pandemics-policy">Pandemics and Policy</a>&nbsp;essay.</p> </div> Thu, 17 Sep 2020 06:15:08 -0400 Neal McCluskey, Caleb O. Brown https://www.cato.org/multimedia/cato-daily-podcast/pandemics-policy-decentralize-k-12-education Decentralize K–12 Education https://www.cato.org/publications/study/decentralize-k-12-education Corey A. DeAngelis, Neal McCluskey <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p><strong>State policymakers should</strong></p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <ul> <li>enact universal education savings accounts; </li> <li>allow any students who so desire to enroll in virtual charter schools up to a&nbsp;school’s capacity to serve them, and allow their public education dollars to follow them to such schools; and </li> <li>let schools and districts determine whether students are receiving sufficient education rather than prescribing such measures as “seat time” for all schools. </li> </ul> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p><strong>Congress should</strong></p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <ul> <li>end state testing mandates.</li> </ul> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/catocovid">twitter #CatoCOVID</a></p> </div> , <div class="paragraph paragraph--type-horizontal-rule paragraph--view-mode-default ds-1col clearfix"> <div class="block-horizontal-rule-blocks block-horizontal-rule-blocks-short block- block"> <div class="block--inner"> <div class="spacer--standard"> <hr class="w-50" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>As COVID-19 cases—and fears—spread in March 2020, schools across the country increasingly faced a&nbsp;problem: how, if at all, would they deliver education if children could not physically attend? They would have to get education at home. Thankfully, about 1.7 million <a href="https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d18/tables/dt18_206.10.asp?current=yes" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">American kids</a> were already doing that. They were, of course, homeschoolers, and their existence after essentially being outlawed in every state as recently as the 1970s is both proof that children can learn at home and a&nbsp;ready source of advice and support for the more than 50 million American children who <a href="https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d19/tables/dt19_203.10.asp?current=yes" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">were enrolled</a> in brick‐​and‐​mortar schools.</p> <p>Homeschooling is the most visible sign of how educational decentralization can provide resilience in the face of a&nbsp;national emergency. But it’s not the only one: what the COVID-19 pandemic has made clear in education is that one size cannot fit all, and we must not try to force it.</p> </div> , <div class="clearfix p-mb-last-child-0 block--standout bg--standout block spacer--standard p-half-gutter"> <h4 class="block__title heading">related content</h4> <div class="block--inner"> <h3 class="heading"><a href="/publications/commentary/covid-19-has-made-it-undeniable-we-need-school-choice"> COVID-19 Has Made It Undeniable: We Need School Choice </a></h3> </div> </div> , <h2 class="heading"> Homeschooling </h2> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Homeschooling has had a&nbsp;huge moment with COVID-19, and the country is fortunate to have homeschoolers. Homeschooling families have provided invaluable guidance to parents suddenly faced with children learning at home. Homeschoolers told those parents not to fear—that learning at home is an adjustment and that parents are not failing if their children struggle to complete their work, intersperse fun activities, or even loaf a&nbsp;little between academic efforts. Homeschoolers let them know that children spending only a&nbsp;few hours on schoolwork, where previously they were in school from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., is not a&nbsp;sign that kids are not learning—education can proceed much more quickly when teachers do not have to take roll, hand back papers, stop for misbehaving or struggling classmates, line students up and march from the classroom to the gym, and more time‐​consuming activities.</p> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="brightcove-player sizing-responsive"> <div> </div> </div> </div> </figure> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Thanks in part to the growing presence of homeschoolers, there are also <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/free-online-learning-resources-when-coronavirus-closes-schools" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">abundant online learning resources</a> parents can draw on to supplement or even replace what instruction their physical schools were providing. Those include <a href="https://outschool.com/#abkcw37x0r" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">Outschool</a>, <a href="https://www.duolingo.com/" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">Duolingo</a>, <a href="https://www.khanacademy.org/" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">Khan Academy</a>, and more. And homeschoolers have generously volunteered their experience and advice in online groups such as <a href="https://learneverywhere.org/" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">Learn Everywhere</a>.</p> </div> , <h2 class="heading"> Private versus Public Schools </h2> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Of course, most children attend schools, and almost all the schools—save some virtual charter schools and online “traditional” public schools—are brick‐​and‐​mortar places where children physically go to receive instruction. Moreover, there is wide variety among these institutions: small public schools in big districts, big public schools in small districts, big private high schools, small private elementary schools, and so on. How did the sectors, broadly, perform in adjusting to the new normal?</p> <p>Logically, we would expect private schools to have transitioned more quickly and effectively to online education. Private schools tend to be smaller and more independent than public schools—a Catholic diocesan schools office is as close as private schools typically get to a&nbsp;district bureaucracy, and that is not very close—so they can move more nimbly as circumstances change. On the flip side, school districts tend to have full‐​time employees dedicated to information technology (IT) that private schools may not have. What we saw was that while the transition was hard for everyone, being nimble typically beat having big IT staffs.</p> <p>Two surveys of public and private schools conducted at almost the same time—early to mid-April—give a&nbsp;sense of the difference. The American Enterprise Institute <a href="https://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/School-District-Responses-to-the-COVID-19-Pandemic-Round-3.pdf" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">surveyed public school districts</a> and found that as of April 14—about a&nbsp;month after the coronavirus really started hitting the United States—almost 20 percent of public school districts still did not offer any remote instruction and that only 54 percent had started remote instruction within two weeks of their buildings closing. In contrast, a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.edchoice.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Private-School-COVID-19-Response-Survey.pdf" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">survey of private schools</a> conducted by the school‐​choice advocacy group EdChoice between April 1&nbsp;and April 17 found that almost 88 percent of private schools had “shifted to online learning with formal curricula.” So, it was not just some online provision but regular curricula.</p> </div> , <div class="clearfix p-mb-last-child-0 block--standout bg--standout block spacer--standard p-half-gutter"> <h4 class="block__title heading">related content</h4> <div class="block--inner"> <h3 class="heading"><a href="/covid-19-permanent-private-closures"> COVID-19 Permanent Private School Closures </a></h3> </div> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>A <a href="https://www.commonsensemedia.org/sites/default/files/uploads/pdfs/2020_surveymonkey-key-findings-toplines-teens-and-coronavirus.pdf" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">Common Sense Media</a> national survey of children ages 13 to 17 also found evidence of a&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/DeAngelisCorey/status/1248617657365983234" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">private‐​sector advantage</a> adapting to the pandemic. It found that private school students were more than twice as likely as public school students to connect with their teachers each day during the lockdown. It also found that private school students were 1.5 times as likely as public school students to attend online classes during the closures.</p> <p>Finally, the education policy journal <a href="https://www.educationnext.org/what-american-families-experienced-when-covid-19-closed-their-schools/" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank"><em>Education Next</em> published a&nbsp;survey</a> in July that found that the schools attended by 88 percent of private school students and 86 percent of public/​private hybrid charter school students had introduced new material during lockdowns versus only 72 percent of public school students. Sixty‐​one percent of charter school parents and 41 percent of private school parents reported that their child had one‐​on‐​one contact with a&nbsp;teacher versus 37 percent of children in district schools.</p> <p>Of course, private schools and charter schools have something besides their relatively small, agile size spurring them to be more responsive to changing circumstances. They also must satisfy their customers—parents and students—to stay in business, whereas traditional public schools receive funding regardless of parent satisfaction. That means private schools and charter schools have much more at stake if they fail to react promptly and effectively to changing circumstances even as disruptive and unique as COVID-19. It may also explain why <em>Education Next</em> found that the parents of 39 percent of private school students and 46 percent of charter school students were “very satisfied” with what their schools provided during closure versus 26 percent of parents of traditional public school students.</p> </div> , <h2 class="heading"> State and Federal Governments </h2> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>One reason public schools are inflexible and hard to maneuver is their sheer size: they and their districts tend to be much larger than private schools. They are also subject to many more state and federal rules and must get permission to make changes.</p> <p>The relative inflexibility of public schools resulted in delays for many schools and districts. Michigan’s Department of Education, for instance, at first said that <a href="https://www.detroitnews.com/story/opinion/2020/04/06/opinion-covid-19-proves-education-too-rigid/2939983001/" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">online instruction</a> could not count toward the state’s time‐​being‐​educated requirement. “It’s not fair to allow districts with resources to count days and other districts trying to get resources not qualify to count those days,” said Casandra Ulbrich, state education board president. The <a href="https://thenotebook.org/articles/2020/03/18/philly-schools-forbid-remote-instruction-during-shutdown-for-equity-concerns/?fbclid=IwAR00vUabBnPE9wmwD38jZIB-rKQ8ec1JrNIoSYff7vDqeCNwflDnM4Z781w" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">School District of Philadelphia</a> initially insisted that its schools could deliver only supplemental instruction and not formal curricular instruction because students with disabilities could not be fully accommodated as required under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Officials made similar pronouncements in <a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/03/23/820138079/education-dept-says-disability-laws-shouldnt-get-in-the-way-of-online-learning" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">Chicago and elsewhere</a>.</p> <p>To discourage any further delay, the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education <a href="https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/urging-states-continue-educating-students-disabilities-secretary-devos-publishes-new-resource-accessibility-and-distance-learning-options" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">published guidance</a> specifically stating that “ensuring compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504), and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act should not prevent any school from offering educational programs through distance instruction.” Centralized regulation of public schooling unnecessarily slowed the transition to full instruction for many children.</p> <p>Response to the pandemic also has revealed how dispensable some mandates are that have been central to education policy. Federal education policy has mandated uniform state testing—with serious consequences for schools—since the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002. The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 somewhat reduced the emphasis on high‐​stakes testing, but that law retained uniform state standard and testing mandates and had ramifications for the lowest‐​scoring schools. At the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdowns, many states and districts feared that they would be held accountable for the “big test,” but Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos offered liberal <a href="https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/helping-students-adversely-affected-school-closures-secretary-devos-announces-broad-flexibilities-states-cancel-testing-during-national-emergency" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">testing waivers</a>. All states eventually claimed them with nary a&nbsp;peep that “accountability” would suffer.</p> </div> , <div class="clearfix p-mb-last-child-0 block--standout bg--standout block spacer--standard p-half-gutter"> <h4 class="block__title heading">related content</h4> <div class="block--inner"> <h3 class="heading"><a href="/publications/commentary/families-not-bureaucrats-are-real-education-experts"> Families, Not Bureaucrats, Are the Real Education Experts </a></h3> </div> </div> , <h2 class="heading"> Going Forward </h2> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>If what happened during the 2019–20 school year does not sufficiently make the case for decentralization, preparation for the 2020–21 school year absolutely should. At the end of summer 2020, no one was certain what the upcoming year would look like—whether there would be big outbreaks, closures, etc.—but one thing was clear: while many parents wanted their children to return to in‐​person school, many did not, at least not until they felt assured of their children’s safety. <a href="https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/national-survey-significant-number-of-parents-not-planning-to-send-children-to-brick-and-mortar-schools-due-to-covid-19-concerns-301068667.html" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">One national survey</a> released on June 1, for instance, found that 21 percent of parents whose children had attended brick‐​and‐​mortar schools in March 2020 did not feel comfortable with their children returning to school. A&nbsp;University of Michigan poll of parents in Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois in late June found that one‐​third of respondents would likely not send their <a href="https://labblog.uofmhealth.org/rounds/13-of-parents-3-states-may-not-send-children-to-school-because-of-covid-19" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">children back to school</a> in the fall. And a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.politico.com/news/2020/07/15/voters-reject-trump-insistence-schools-362258" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">July national survey</a> found that 53 percent of likely voters opposed calls to fully reopen daycares or K–12 schools.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--left aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>A system grounded in school choice would be more efficient.</p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Public school districts have been proposing various ways to deal with the problem of different parents having different valuations of risk, including online/​in‐​person hybrid provisions, but a&nbsp;system grounded in school choice would be more efficient. Rather than a&nbsp;single school or system trying to be all things for all people, different schools could focus on specific delivery mechanisms—all online, all in‐​person, blended—and parents could select the best fit for their children. By July, for instance, the Los Angeles Unified School District announced that it would start with <a href="https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-07-13/l-a-unified-will-not-reopen-campuses-start-of-school-year" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">online‐​only schooling</a> while the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles planned <a href="https://lacatholics.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/ADLA-Starting-the-School-Year-Smart-Rev.-6.25.20.pdf" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">in‐​person schooling</a>. Also, options such as virtual charter schools could take more students, but in <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/oregons-coronavirus-education-lockdown-11585697080" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">some states</a>, states capped or stopped the <a href="https://www.pennlive.com/opinion/2020/04/how-pennsylvania-is-discouraging-education-during-the-coronavirus-crisis-opinion.html" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">schools’ enrollment</a>.</p> <p>Several surveys indicated that a&nbsp;substantial portion of families wanted to continue home‐​based education in the fall even if brick‐​and‐​mortar schools reopened. In April, an <a href="https://www.edchoice.org/engage/polling-american-k-12-school-parents-about-covid-19/" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">EdChoice and Morning Consult</a> survey found that 52 percent of American families had a&nbsp;more favorable view of homeschooling as a&nbsp;result of their educational experiences during the lockdown. RealClear Opinion Research found in May that 40.8 percent of families were “more likely” to continue <a href="https://www.federationforchildren.org/national-poll-40-of-families-more-likely-to-homeschool-after-lockdowns-end/" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">home‐​based education</a> after the lockdown, and a&nbsp;<em>USA Today</em> poll in late May similarly found that 60 percent of parents were “likely” to pursue at‐​home <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/education/2020/05/26/coronavirus-schools-teachers-poll-ipsos-parents-fall-online/5254729002/" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">learning options</a> in the coming school year. A&nbsp;July Gallup poll found that 64 percent of <a href="https://news.gallup.com/poll/316412/fewer-parents-full-time-person-fall-schooling.aspx" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">American parents wanted</a> full‐ or part‐​time virtual learning for their children in the fall. Also in July, North Carolina’s non‐​public education system website went down as it was <a href="http://nsjonline.com/article/2020/07/notice-to-homeschool-portal-overloads-state-government-website/" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">overloaded with submissions</a> of notices of intent to homeschool.</p> <p>Families wish to continue home‐​based education for a&nbsp;<a href="https://reason.org/commentary/parents-on-homeschooling-during-coronavirus-and-where-theyll-send-their-kids-when-schools-re-open/" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">variety of reasons</a>, including satisfaction with their <a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/why-government-school-monopolists-are-freaking-out" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">educational experience</a> during the lockdown, dissatisfaction with their <a href="https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/education/2020/05/04/mps-transition-virtual-learning-after-canceled-school-too-slow-say-critics/3049843001/" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">district‐​run schools</a>, displeasure with disconcerting <a href="https://www.abc15.com/rebound/hiring-during-coronavirus/reopening-schools-first-look-inside-a-school-with-partitions" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">social distancing reopening plans</a>, and continuing fears about exposing their children to COVID-19.</p> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="bg--sand p-3 shadow-sm"> <div class="field field--name-acast-player field--type-acast-player field--label-hidden field__item"> </div> <div class="text-sans-alternate mt-2 medium"> <div class="d-flex flex-column flex-sm-row"> <a class="d-block" href="https://assets.pippa.io/shows/5e28e0d8963f166217546493/48d38726-0986-4920-8ec1-220ca0eacecb.mp3" target="_blank">Download Episode</a> <div class="acast-player__services"> <span class="d-none d-sm-inline ml-sm-1">|</span> <span class="d-block d-sm-inline">Listen on:</span> <a href="https://open.spotify.com/show/4dHRhKEljj8zcLdl3Gvsv7" target="_blank">Spotify</a> &bull; <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/cato-daily-podcast/id158961219" target="_blank">Apple Podcasts</a> &bull; <a href="https://play.google.com/music/listen?authuser#/ps/Ic75vwmn4tx4fbi422ai7ipibbq" target="_blank">Google Play</a> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </figure> , <h2 class="heading"> Policy Implications </h2> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>What the response of our education system to the COVID-19 pandemic has shown is that decentralized decisionmaking is the key to coping with major disruptions. Not only do disruptions hit different places with different levels of severity—New York City was struck much harder than Montana—but smaller, autonomous units can change how they operate faster than big bureaucratic organizations. And it is a&nbsp;simple human reality that different people have widely varying tolerances for risk.</p> <p>At the federal level, policymakers should consider dropping annual uniform state testing mandates. Standardized testing is a&nbsp;cramped way to assess educational success, and when disruptions occur, it can delay speedy actions. Tests also lose their value as assessments of school effectiveness with learning disruptions. A&nbsp;pandemic is likely to have a&nbsp;far bigger effect on test scores than anything the schools do.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>Constitutional authority over education resides at the state level, where the farthest‐​reaching reforms should take place.</p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Constitutional authority over education resides at the state level, where the farthest‐​reaching reforms should take place. States should give public school districts far more ability to make decisions for themselves over such things as measuring the right “amount” of education.</p> <p>Measuring educational effectiveness by the time a&nbsp;student sits in a&nbsp;building makes little sense in normal circumstances and still less sense when all instruction is delivered at home, often through recorded lessons. Districts should also be able to make their own closure decisions; urban and rural parts of a&nbsp;state could see far different COVID-19 threat levels. And while research suggests that students are <a href="https://www.nationalacademies.org/news/2020/07/schools-should-prioritize-reopening-in-fall-2020-especially-for-grades-k-5-while-weighing-risks-and-benefits" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">generally better off</a> in school than out, the science is still unsettled, and degree of risk varies by student age, building conditions, a&nbsp;child’s overall health, and more. We need decentralization to try different arrangements tailored to specific circumstances and to see which work most effectively.</p> <p>Potentially far more valuable than giving districts autonomy is fundamentally changing the education structure by having the money follow children and giving educators autonomy to run schools and teach as they think best. This would create a&nbsp;system that is more flexible and innovative—with smaller schools able to more quickly respond to threats—and empower educators to try new things. That empowerment is key to getting more of the sorts of platforms, such as Google Classroom and Duolingo, that have enabled online education to become increasingly enriching. It is also crucial to enabling parents to find providers that will efficiently furnish education commensurate with families’ tolerance for risk.</p> <p>One option is for states to open the doors wide to virtual charter schools. More promising still would be for states to enact or expand vouchers, scholarship tax credits, and especially education savings accounts (ESA). ESAs are basically accounts into which either the state, or groups getting tax‐​favored donations, put money for children and from which parents can use the funds for educational expenses. Expenses could include tuition costs but also tutoring, “pandemic pods” of a&nbsp;few children and a&nbsp;teacher, or many other educational uses. ESAs maximize the ability of parents to create a&nbsp;full suite of educational services tailored to their child’s unique needs and circumstances.</p> </div> , <figure class="figure overflow-hidden figure--default figure--no-caption responsive-embed-no-margin-wrapper"> <div class="figure__media"> <div class="bg--sand p-3 shadow-sm"> <div class="field field--name-acast-player field--type-acast-player field--label-hidden field__item"> </div> <div class="text-sans-alternate mt-2 medium"> <div class="d-flex flex-column flex-sm-row"> <a class="d-block" href="https://assets.pippa.io/shows/5e28e0d8963f166217546493/40fcfaf9-d4df-45c4-9dca-69eb38f6b9c1.mp3" target="_blank">Download Episode</a> <div class="acast-player__services"> <span class="d-none d-sm-inline ml-sm-1">|</span> <span class="d-block d-sm-inline">Listen on:</span> <a href="https://open.spotify.com/show/4dHRhKEljj8zcLdl3Gvsv7" target="_blank">Spotify</a> &bull; <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/cato-daily-podcast/id158961219" target="_blank">Apple Podcasts</a> &bull; <a href="https://play.google.com/music/listen?authuser#/ps/Ic75vwmn4tx4fbi422ai7ipibbq" target="_blank">Google Play</a> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </figure> , <h2 class="heading"> Conclusion </h2> , <div class="tombstone mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>Much of the American education system struggled to respond to COVID-19, faltering for weeks or more. Homeschoolers, in contrast, were ready from the start to both educate their own children and help their fellow parents. Among brick‐​and‐​mortar institutions, private schools adjusted more quickly and effectively than public ones. And citing federal regulations, some school districts delayed launching new online lessons, to which the U.S. Department of Education wisely responded by saying such rules should not stand in the way of delivering new material to millions of students.</p> <p>The COVID-19 pandemic has starkly demonstrated the need for American education to be much more agile and adaptable to changing and unique circumstances and has shone a&nbsp;light on the way to do that: decentralization, especially by funding students instead of school systems.</p> </div> Tue, 15 Sep 2020 02:00:00 -0400 Corey A. DeAngelis, Neal McCluskey https://www.cato.org/publications/study/decentralize-k-12-education Resurrected Schools, and More COVID-19 Private Ed News https://www.cato.org/blog/resurrected-schools-more-covid-19-private-ed-news Neal McCluskey <p>Bad news grabs a lot more attention than good, and Cato’s <a href="https://www.cato.org/covid-19-permanent-private-closures">COVID-19 Permanent Private School Closures</a> tracker mainly communicates bad – private schools going out of business, leaving thousands of children educationally homeless. But today we offer some good news, coupled with some news of less clear character.</p> <p>The good news is that 3 schools have been removed from the tracker, bringing closures down from 118 to 115.</p> <p> </p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="17c13be8-0d2c-4e6d-b174-30639aeb47e0" class="align-center embedded-entity" data-langcode="en"> <img srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-09/Closures%2091020.png?itok=O0n6QQ2o 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/2020-09/Closures%2091020.png?itok=pOJrO5QM 1.5x" width="700" height="342" src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-09/Closures%2091020.png?itok=O0n6QQ2o" alt="Permanent Private School COVID Closures by Date 91020" typeof="Image" class="component-image" /></div> <p>On September 1 it was <a href="https://crotchedmountain.org/crotched-mountain-school-to-remain-open-under-new-ownership/">announced</a> that the Crotched Mountain School in New Hampshire, which serves students with disabilities, was revived after being acquired by an organization called Gersh Autism. After hearing that news we reviewed the tracker and found two more schools had been saved. At the end of August it was reported that Saint Joseph High School in New Jersey was <a href="https://pressofatlanticcity.com/news/local/st-joseph-academy-returns-to-vine-street-in-hammonton/article_06bfd921-86c4-5457-9126-4145391c3515.html#4">rescued by a fundraising effort</a> of families, alumni, and others, though it will re‐​open under a slightly different name: Saint Joseph Academy. We also discovered that in May <a href="https://www.fox5dc.com/video/688951">Seneca Academy in Maryland was saved</a> by parent fundraising and a partnership with Georgetown Hill, which runs several schools.</p> <p>Reopenings, and a dearth of closures throughout much of July and August, suggest that private schools are faring much better than many feared as lockdowns prevailed in March and April. It is even possible private schools are gaining students as parents seek options, especially in‐​person instruction, that many public schools are not providing. Or maybe not.</p> <p>As discussed recently, <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/private-schools-covid-enrollment-winners-or-losers">estimates of private school enrollment</a> under COVID vary widely. Yesterday new data came out, pointing toward small but negative enrollment movement. Based on questions asked in mid‐​August – yes, a virtual lifetime ago given rapidly changing schooling decisions – EdChoice found that 21 percent of children attended private schools right before COVID-19, but only 19 percent will do so this school year. Most of the movement is toward homeschooling. Indeed, homeschooling appears to be the big winner in the survey, moving from 11 percent of students to 14 percent, while traditional public schools and private schools drop and charters stay steady.</p> <p> </p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="7370bfca-2e4c-40b7-bcda-3b1ec0d06e0e" class="align-center embedded-entity" data-langcode="en"> <img srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-09/EdChoice%20Graphic.png?itok=VUq6AC16 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/2020-09/EdChoice%20Graphic.png?itok=0AtPrd9i 1.5x" width="695" height="509" src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-09/EdChoice%20Graphic.png?itok=VUq6AC16" alt="EdChoice enrollment movement by K-12 sector" typeof="Image" class="component-image" /></div> <p>Some provisos are in order. First, it is reasonable to suspect that some kids may be getting institutional schooling online but their parents have reported it as homeschooling. Second, home, private, and charter schoolers appear over‐​represented, and traditional publics under, compared to <a href="https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d18/tables/dt18_206.10.asp?current=yes">federal</a> <a href="https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d18/tables/dt18_206.30.asp?current=yes">data</a>, raising questions about the sample. Finally, the parent sample is relatively small, creating an appreciable margin for error.</p> <p>All‐​in‐​all, the private school health situation remains hazy. But the latest news offers reason for optimism, and points more toward small changes than major, transformative impacts of COVID-19.</p> Thu, 10 Sep 2020 15:14:14 -0400 Neal McCluskey https://www.cato.org/blog/resurrected-schools-more-covid-19-private-ed-news Happy New School Year? Cato’s Center for Educational Freedom Has You Covered https://www.cato.org/blog/happy-new-school-year-catos-center-educational-freedom-has-you-covered Neal McCluskey <p> </p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="e703c05f-b056-41df-bde7-eaf7cb49ceaf" class="align-center embedded-entity" data-langcode="en"> <img srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-09/640px-Winston-Salem_Street_School_closure.jpg?itok=dKInKHLf 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/2020-09/640px-Winston-Salem_Street_School_closure.jpg?itok=GBR0lLlQ 1.5x" width="640" height="427" src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-09/640px-Winston-Salem_Street_School_closure.jpg?itok=dKInKHLf" alt="A sign on a closed local school because of the coronavirus. Photo by Breawycker" typeof="Image" class="component-image" /></div> <p>Ordinarily, the end of Labor Day weekend signals the return to school for the vast majority of American children. And while most kids will have resumed their K-12 education by today, this is not ordinary: millions will not be returning to school buildings even if their parents desperately want them to, while many in buildings may much prefer to be learning elsewhere.</p> <p>Cato’s Center for Educational Freedom has been closely analyzing the transition from surprise lockdowns last year, to the muddled, volatile start of the new school year. Of course, our focus is always on freedom in education, and if anything has proven how desperate the need for freedom is, it has been COVID-19. Different communities, families, and educators face different disease threats, have different tolerances for risk, and are dealing with different educational needs, but are far too often being told they can have only one type of education for their tax dollars: whatever their school district, often strong‐​armed by teachers unions, allow them.</p> <p>That is unacceptable.</p> <p>Below are links to Center for Educational Freedom work over the last few months on a number of COVID‐​related issues, especially the pandemic’s impact on private schools, which we have tracked more closely than perhaps anyone else. We also explain why the need for choice is now obvious, why public school unionization is problematic, and how pandemic “pods” could be affordable for everyone. And stay tuned – there is a lot more analysis to come!</p> <p><strong>One Size Does Not Fit All</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/covid-19-has-made-it-undeniable-we-need-school-choice">COVID-19 Has Made It Undeniable: We Need School Choice</a></p> <p><strong>Private Schools’ Response to COVID-19</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/private-schools-are-adapting-lockdown-better-public-school-monopoly?queryID=b860fb36fce909fa51d5a18bd53d1fb6">Private Schools Adapted to Lockdown Better Than the Public School Monopoly</a></p> <p><strong>COVID-19’s Impact on Private Education</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.cato.org/covid-19-permanent-private-closures">COVID-19 Permanent Private School Closure Tracker</a></p> <p><a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/private-schools-covid-enrollment-winners-or-losers">Private School Enrollment 2020–21: Estimates</a></p> <p><a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/troubling-covid-19-report-private-schools">Private and Public Schools Down, Homeschooling and Charters Up?</a></p> <p><a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/covid-19-leaving-most-private-schools-financial-despair">Private Schools Face Financial Despair: To Help, Just Treat Them Equally</a></p> <p><strong>The True Price of Private Schools</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/when-it-comes-money-most-private-schools-are-not-sidwell-friends?queryID=79d538ec12d8ca9442c6e60951541c3e">When It Comes to Money, Most Private Schools Are <em>Not </em>Sidwell Friends</a></p> <p><strong>Unions</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/teachers-unions-are-more-powerful-you-realize-may-be-changing">Teachers Unions Are More Powerful Than You Realize—but That May Be Changing</a></p> <p><a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/its-union-power-not-safety-issues-thats-determining-which-us-schools-reopen">It’s Union Power, Not Safety Issues, That’s Determining Which US Schools Reopen This Fall</a></p> <p><strong>Pandemic “Pods”</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/numbers-public-schools-shared-poor-could-pod">By the Numbers: If Public Schools Shared, The Poor Could Pod</a></p> <p><a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/pandemic-pods-make-homeschooling-easier-parents-profitable-teachers">‘Pandemic Pods’ Make Homeschooling Easier for Parents, Profitable for Teachers</a></p> Tue, 08 Sep 2020 15:52:24 -0400 Neal McCluskey https://www.cato.org/blog/happy-new-school-year-catos-center-educational-freedom-has-you-covered Private Schools: COVID Enrollment Winners or Losers? https://www.cato.org/blog/private-schools-covid-enrollment-winners-or-losers Neal McCluskey <p>As you’d expect with the arrival of a new school year, increasingly people have been asking me how things are looking for private schools. Are they getting clobbered, as I feared they might back in the <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/private-schools-face-existential-threat">early lockdown days</a>, or gaining students, as more recent <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/why-not-more-private-school-closures-increasing-evidence-suggests-theyre-offering-person">anecdotal evidence</a> has suggested? The answer is there is a Grand Canyon‐​wide range of estimates, the ground is still moving, and we could be seeing anything from disaster to boom‐​time for private schools.</p> <p>The worst‐​case estimate I have seen is from the Gallup poll I <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/troubling-covid-19-report-private-schools">tackled last week</a>, with data suggesting that private schools (“private” and “parochial”) would go from an 11 percent share of students last year to just 8 percent in 2020–21. In terms of total enrollment, that would be a drop of 1.5 million students: from <a href="https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d19/tables/dt19_105.10.asp?current=yes">roughly 5.7 million</a> to about 4.2 million. That’s a 26 percent loss – pretty devastating.</p> <p>The middle‐​case estimate is from our private school <a href="https://www.cato.org/covid-19-permanent-private-closures">permanent closure tracker</a>, which catalogues private schools that have announced they are permanently closing at least partially due to the financial effects of COVID-19. Currently we list 118 schools that enrolled about 18,400 students. That is terrible for those schools and kids, but microscopic in overall private schooling context – roughly a 0.3 percent enrollment drop.</p> <p>Finally, there is the rosiest estimate I have seen, survey results released last week <a href="https://www.civisanalytics.com/blog/covid-19-impact-on-the-american-population/">by a group called Civis</a>. According to their data, 39.7 percent of K-12 parents have disenrolled their children from the schools they were originally going to attend this year, and 20.5 percent of those have enrolled their children in private schools. With about 56.3 million students enrolled in K-12 schools, that means 22.4 million will not be attending the school they were originally slated for, and about 4.6 million of those will go to private schools. Assuming private schools face the 39.7 percent departure rate they would lose about 2.3 million students while gaining 4.6 million, or a net 2.3 million addition, bringing the private schooling total to 8.0 million. That would be a 40 percent <em>increase</em> in private school enrollment.</p> <p>To summarize, the range is:</p> <p> </p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="a2e9c517-8d25-421e-ab37-183676c97e00" class="align-center embedded-entity" data-langcode="en"> <img srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-09/Private%20schools%20COVID%20effects%20range.png?itok=74MLyThO 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/2020-09/Private%20schools%20COVID%20effects%20range.png?itok=QgfqW9e4 1.5x" width="633" height="87" src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-09/Private%20schools%20COVID%20effects%20range.png?itok=74MLyThO" alt="Private school enrollment COVID effect range" typeof="Image" class="component-image" /></div> <p>Which scenario should be believed? All have major shortcomings. First and foremost, the situation is extremely fluid, with many school districts having changed their delivery plans late in the game—just yesterday New York City announced a roughly <a href="https://abc7ny.com/nyc-schools-delayed-opening-public-de-blasio-school-ventilation/6398202/">one‐​week delay</a> in starting school—and many parents having changed their plans as COVID numbers and district offerings have evolved. So even data that seem pretty new, such as the Gallup data collected between July 30 and August 12, may be quite out of date. There is also a big categorization problem which can be seen most clearly in the Civis write up, where homeschooling is not even mentioned, and “online” looks synonymous with “disenrolled.” Meanwhile, the closure tracker only captures schools that have either informed the media, or me directly, that they are closing. And it does not capture any <em>new</em> private schools or enrollment increases.</p> <p>We plan to collect more systematic data on private school enrollment, but considering the still‐​evolving situation we will not be able to do so until after Labor Day, when all public schools should have begun the new year. Until then, I’ll just offer a guess: Private schools are probably faring decently right now—the closure data are certainly better than I feared in April—but they will see only modest enrollment increases in the new year. Largely because I like round numbers, I’ll guess a net gain of 300,000 students, increasing enrollment to about 6.0 million, or roughly 5 percent.</p> <p>That’s a pretty unscientific guess, but these are unsettled times. Hopefully, more firm answers will be coming soon.</p> Wed, 02 Sep 2020 12:01:01 -0400 Neal McCluskey https://www.cato.org/blog/private-schools-covid-enrollment-winners-or-losers Troubling COVID-19 Report for Private Schools https://www.cato.org/blog/troubling-covid-19-report-private-schools Neal McCluskey <p>Educational freedom is having a moment with COVID-19, with many parents <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/08/24/coronavirus-shows-that-virginians-need-real-school-choice/">feeling trapped</a> by public school decisions about how to deliver instruction, and the GOP <a href="https://reason.com/2020/08/25/the-first-night-of-the-rnc-offered-a-full-throated-defense-of-school-choice/">featuring school choice</a> on the first night of its convention. Nonetheless, new data suggest COVID-19 could be crippling private schooling.</p> <p>According to a <a href="https://news.gallup.com/poll/317852/parents-satisfaction-child-education-slips.aspx">new Gallup poll</a>, between the beginning of last school year and this year the percentage of parents planning to enroll their kids in private schools dropped from 7 to 6 percent, and in parochial schools from 4 to 2 percent. Those would be huge but <a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/covid-19-leaving-most-private-schools-financial-despair">not totally unexpected</a> hits to private schooling, though from an overall educational freedom perspective the news is not necessarily terrible: most of the move may be to home schooling. In 2019, 5 percent of parents said they would educate their children at home, versus 10 percent today. The percent planning to enroll in public schools dropped from 83 to 76 percent, while planned charter school enrollment increased.</p> <p> </p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="2d5da91b-6c93-47ac-909d-9f5bd5b4ad72" class="align-center embedded-entity" data-langcode="en"> <img srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-08/Gallup%20Enrol.png?itok=rwUPIO7H 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/2020-08/Gallup%20Enrol.png?itok=UwpIFybi 1.5x" width="700" height="278" src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-08/Gallup%20Enrol.png?itok=rwUPIO7H" alt="Gallup COVID enrollment by K-12 sector data" typeof="Image" class="component-image" /></div> <p>We should interpret these results cautiously. First, there is a ±8 percentage point margin of error for the parent‐​only sample. In addition, while the enrollment question clarifies that home schooling does not just mean receiving instruction at home, it would not be surprising if many respondents did not fully absorb the distinction. Even if they did, it is unclear how many would continue to homeschool or stick with whatever options they plan to use now when the COVID threat subsides. Finally, the poll was conducted between July 30 and August 12, which may seem recent, but <a href="https://www.startribune.com/minnesota-schools-make-last-minute-pivot-to-distance-learning/572209662/">schools’ plans</a> and <a href="https://news.gallup.com/poll/316412/fewer-parents-full-time-person-fall-schooling.aspx">parental concerns</a> have been changing very rapidly. It is quite possible a lot of decisions have changed since the poll was taken.</p> <p>Running in a more positive direction for private schools is that we are still seeing <a href="https://www.cato.org/covid-19-permanent-private-closures">permanent closure announcements</a> coming in just dribs and drabs. Since major announcements in New York City on July 9, which saw 28 closures, we have recorded only 13 closures nationwide. In total we have tracked 118 permanent private school closures at least partially driven by COVID-19. To put that in perspective, the federal government reports that there were <a href="https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d19/tables/dt19_205.40.asp?current=yes">roughly 32,000 private schools</a> in the country as of 2017 — 118 is a tiny share of that. And <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/why-not-more-private-school-closures-increasing-evidence-suggests-theyre-offering-person">anecdotal evidence</a> suggests that many private schools are seeing increased demand as they offer in‐​person schooling public schools do not. That said, many private schools are very small – about a third have fewer than 50 students – and we may simply not be hearing about their closures. They may be too small for public closure announcements or media attention.</p> <p> </p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="582c61fc-edfe-4eed-971c-82db93dffade" class="align-center embedded-entity" data-langcode="en"> <img srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-08/Closure%20Dates.png?itok=w2xVEK3H 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/2020-08/Closure%20Dates.png?itok=2jb5miOc 1.5x" width="700" height="155" src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-08/Closure%20Dates.png?itok=w2xVEK3H" alt="Permanent Private School COVID Closures by Date 8/25/20" typeof="Image" class="component-image" /></div> <p>So how is COVID-19 shaking out for private schooling? We do not know with certainty, and probably will not until well into September, after school has resumed everywhere. Even then we will not know the longer‐​term implications of COVID-19 for private education, including homeschooling. But one thing <a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/covid-19-has-made-it-undeniable-we-need-school-choice">remains clear</a>: We would have been better off had widespread school choice been implemented long ago, and families were not largely locked in to whatever public school districts decide to offer.</p> Tue, 25 Aug 2020 12:44:03 -0400 Neal McCluskey https://www.cato.org/blog/troubling-covid-19-report-private-schools Neal McCluskey participates in the webinar, “Caveat Emptor 101: Are Student Borrowers Sufficiently Protected,“ hosted by Consumers’ Research https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/neal-mccluskey-participates-webinar-caveat-emptor-101-are-student Fri, 21 Aug 2020 11:39:11 -0400 Neal McCluskey https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/neal-mccluskey-participates-webinar-caveat-emptor-101-are-student By the Numbers: If Public Schools Shared, The Poor Could Pod https://www.cato.org/blog/numbers-public-schools-shared-poor-could-pod Neal McCluskey <p>You’ve probably <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/fall-remote-private-teacher-pods/2020/07/17/9956ff28-c77f-11ea-8ffe-372be8d82298_story.html">heard about “pods”</a> – small, self‐​contained groups of kids that parents assemble for COVID‐​safe, in‐​person education. They have spurred some public schooling groups to speak out, warning that they may exacerbate inequality. What such groups have <em>not</em> tackled is what could make pods broadly affordable: letting education tax dollars follow children rather than staying in public schools.</p> <p>In Fairfax County, Virginia, the school district <a href="https://www.fcps.edu/blog/message-parents-tutoring-pods">posted a&nbsp;message</a> telling families that “pandemic pods” are legal – quite a&nbsp;concession! – but:</p> <blockquote><p>While FCPS doesn’t and can’t control these private tutoring groups, we do have concerns that they may widen the gap in educational access and equity for all students. Many parents cannot afford private instruction. Many working families can’t provide transportation to and from a&nbsp;tutoring pod, even if they could afford to pay for the service.</p> </blockquote> <p>In Oakland, California – where a&nbsp;battle between the teachers union and district threatens to start the new school year <a href="https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/08/07/oakland-unified-teachers-union-still-in-talks-as-start-of-school-looms/">without instruction</a> – a&nbsp;group of elementary school principals <a href="https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Gv0ZfYylWmvx6Q2mMKRJiDdAJiHx_wY_-FFmkP-FK8M/mobilebasic">recently warned</a> that while “podding is a&nbsp;creative solution to an impossible situation…the formation of these groups holds the risk of exacerbating educational inequities throughout our country.”</p> <p>So what if money followed kids out of districts and into pods? Could the poor <em>really</em> afford them?</p> <p>In a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.realclearpolicy.com/articles/2020/08/11/covid-19_has_made_it_undeniable_we_need_school_choice_501548.html">Real Clear Policy op‐​ed</a> I&nbsp;lay out some basic numbers: “With public school spending <a href="https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d19/tables/dt19_236.55.asp?current=yes" target="_blank">exceeding $15,000 per student</a>, most privates, which charge roughly <a href="https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d19/tables/dt19_205.50.asp?current=yes" target="_blank">$12,000 on average</a>, would be in anyone’s reach, while families pooling ten kids could offer $150,000 to a&nbsp;pod teacher.”</p> <p>A recent <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/10/parents-turn-to-learning-pods-this-fall-amid-covid-what-it-can-cost.html">CNBC article</a> can help to flesh this out, listing prices for various pod arrangements. Let’s break them down a&nbsp;bit.</p> <p>First, using the latest federal data and adjusting to 2020 dollars, public schools nationally spend a&nbsp;total of $15,827 per student. If we remove capital costs <a href="https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d19/tables/dt19_236.55.asp?current=yes">it is $14,024</a>.</p> <p>Looking at <a href="https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d18/tables/dt18_215.20.asp?current=yes">Fairfax County and Oakland</a> and adjusting to 2020 dollars, we see per‐​pupil spending, minus capital costs, of $15,249 and $12,023, respectively.</p> <p>The first breakdown of costs in the CNBC article is an arrangement paying a&nbsp;teacher $75 to $80 an hour for 4&nbsp;to 6&nbsp;kids, or roughly $13 to $19 per hour per child. For all scenarios, we’ll suppose 5&nbsp;hours of instruction for about 180&nbsp;days. At the $13 rate (getting together at least 6&nbsp;kids would not be that difficult) we get:</p> <ul> <li>Cost per student: $11,700</li> <li>Cost differential, national total per‐​pupil expenditure: $4,127</li> <li>Cost differential, national current costs: $2,324</li> <li>Cost differential, Fairfax current costs: $3,539</li> <li>Cost differential, Oakland current costs: $323</li> </ul> <p>Even the worst‐​case scenario—Oakland—would be affordable to all.</p> <p>The second breakdown (skipping <a href="https://outschool.com/#abkcw37x0r">Outschool</a>, which is pretty à&nbsp;la carte) is <a href="https://thepupilpod.com/">Pupil Pod</a>, which enables 6&nbsp;students each to pay $17 an hour for a&nbsp;teacher:</p> <ul> <li>Cost per student: $15,300</li> <li>Cost differential, national total per‐​pupil expenditure: $527</li> <li>Cost differential, national current costs: -$1,276</li> <li>Cost differential, Fairfax current costs: -$51</li> <li>Cost differential, Oakland current costs: -$3,277</li> </ul> <p>This is tougher in all scenarios than the first example, but sharing the education money would still go a&nbsp;long way towards making Pupil Pod affordable to all.</p> <p>Next, there’s <a href="https://swingeducation.com/">Swing Education</a>, which charges around $330 per week per student for a&nbsp;pod of 8. For 36 weeks of instruction:</p> <ul> <li>Cost per student: $11,880</li> <li>Cost differential, national total per‐​pupil expenditure: $3,947</li> <li>Cost differential, national current costs: $2,144</li> <li>Cost differential, Fairfax current costs: $3,369</li> <li>Cost differential, Oakland current costs: $143</li> </ul> <p>Finally, there is a&nbsp;partnership of three private schools that offer pod instruction. CNBC estimates $1,389 per student per month. For 9&nbsp;months:</p> <ul> <li>Cost per student: $12,501</li> <li>Cost differential, national total per‐​pupil expenditure: $3,326</li> <li>Cost differential, national current costs: $1,523</li> <li>Cost differential, Fairfax current costs: $2,748</li> <li>Cost differential, Oakland current costs: -$478</li> </ul> <p>Only in Oakland would parents need to scrape together more than the current per‐​pupil expenditure, and not a&nbsp;lot more.</p> <p>Were public schooling dollars to follow kids, it appears that pods would be within financial reach of almost everyone, often with funds left over. So instead of decrying inequality, public schooling groups should be saying, “Here, have the money.”</p> Tue, 11 Aug 2020 15:06:59 -0400 Neal McCluskey https://www.cato.org/blog/numbers-public-schools-shared-poor-could-pod COVID-19 Has Made It Undeniable: We Need School Choice https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/covid-19-has-made-it-undeniable-we-need-school-choice Neal McCluskey <div class="lead mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>A new&nbsp;<a href="https://news.gallup.com/poll/316412/fewer-parents-full-time-person-fall-schooling.aspx" target="_blank">Gallup poll</a>&nbsp;that surveyed parents with school‐​aged kids has startling results, much more because of how opinions are split than the opinions themselves. Given the COVID-19 threat, 36 percent of parents want their children to receive fully in‐​person education, 36 percent want an in‐​person/​distance hybrid, and 28 percent want all distance. Each mode was preferred by essentially one‐​third of parents, neatly capturing a&nbsp;now undeniable reality: families need school choice.</p> </div> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>The basic problem is that diverse people have different needs, but a&nbsp;school district is unitary. This is always trouble — diverse people are stuck with one dress code, history curriculum, etc. — but COVID-19 makes the stakes far higher and more immediate than usual. You might be willing to engage in a&nbsp;protracted school board battle to improve curricula, but COVID-19 could put your child’s life, or basic education, in potentially huge danger right now.</p> <p>In many places, the public schools have taken the side of maximum COVID caution. The school districts in&nbsp;<a href="https://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2020/07/13/lausd-students-wont-return-to-classrooms-in-the-fall/" target="_blank">Los Angeles</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.chicagotribune.com/coronavirus/ct-covid-19-chicago-schools-remote-learning-lightfoot-20200805-l3umdst7x5d6zalh4vgqmvqpre-story.html" target="_blank">Chicago</a>, and&nbsp;<a href="https://wjla.com/news/local/fairfax-county-teachers-online-school-year-decision" target="_blank">elsewhere</a>&nbsp;will, at least to start the year, only offer distance education.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside--large aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>The simple fact is all communities, families, and children are different, and they need educational options reflective of that diversity. </p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>That may be fine for kids who learn better at home, have medical conditions that make them high‐​risk, or who live with elderly relatives. But it is a&nbsp;huge hit to children with poor internet connectivity, learning disabilities, or those who simply thrive in a&nbsp;physical classroom.</p> <p>It appears that a&nbsp;spontaneous, nationwide eruption of parent‐​driven, in‐​person education is the response to such closings. The “pod” phenomenon is perhaps the most buzzy sign of this, generating both fascinated and skeptical coverage in&nbsp;<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/fall-remote-private-teacher-pods/2020/07/17/9956ff28-c77f-11ea-8ffe-372be8d82298_story.html" target="_blank">major</a>&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/22/parenting/school-pods-coronavirus.html" target="_blank">media</a>&nbsp;outlets. Basically, parents are pooling their money to hire teachers and create closed learning communities for their kids.</p> <p>We may also be seeing more families moving to traditional private schools, with reports of privates receiving&nbsp;<a href="https://www.sun-sentinel.com/coronavirus/fl-ne-charters-private-schools-covid-20200801-eqftc47dibf5neyq7o7tmlbdne-story.html?int=lat_digitaladshouse_bx-modal_acquisition-subscriber_ngux_display-ad-interstitial_bx-bonus-story_______" target="_blank">increased</a>&nbsp;<a href="https://www.whec.com/rochester-new-york-news/waiting-lists-at-catholic-private-schools-after-public-schools-release-hybrid-reopening-plans/5808473/" target="_blank">interest</a>, and sometimes&nbsp;<a href="https://www.wsmv.com/news/interest-in-catholic-schools-increases-as-parents-search-for-back-to-school-options/article_4b094a0c-d63d-11ea-9ae5-e3105e368059.html" target="_blank">definite</a>&nbsp;enrollment boosts, around the country. There is no systematic data to confirm a&nbsp;national movement, but the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom has been tracking private school&nbsp;<a href="https://www.cato.org/covid-19-permanent-private-closures" target="_blank">closures connected to COVID-19</a>&nbsp;since March and has only recorded eight since July 14. This low number may well reflect new enrollments in private schools.</p> <p>Of course, affording a&nbsp;private alternative can be difficult for lower‐​income families, and many people worry that the move to private schooling will fuel greater inequality.</p> <p>Thankfully there is a&nbsp;solution, and it is straightforward: Instead of education funding going directly to public schools let it follow children, whether to a&nbsp;pod, private school, charter school, or traditional public. With public school spending&nbsp;<a href="https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d19/tables/dt19_236.55.asp?current=yes" target="_blank">exceeding $15,000 per student</a>, most privates, which charge roughly&nbsp;<a href="https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d19/tables/dt19_205.50.asp?current=yes" target="_blank">$12,000 on average</a>, would be in anyone’s reach, while families pooling ten kids could offer $150,000 to a&nbsp;pod teacher.</p> <p>The Trump administration has been pushing choice, and certainly any federal aid should follow kids. But constitutional authority over education lies with the states, and it is from them that choice should come. Indeed, more than&nbsp;<a href="https://www.edchoice.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/2020-ABCs-of-School-Choice-WEB-OPTIMIZED-REVISED.pdf#page=3" target="_blank">half‐​a‐​million children</a>&nbsp;already attend private schools through voucher, tax credit, and education savings account programs in 29 states and Washington, D.C. But that is far below the number who need choice — states that already have it should expand it, and those without it should enact it.</p> <p>But expanding funding may not be enough to supply the COVID choice people need. In some places, including much of&nbsp;<a href="https://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2020/07/17/newsom-orders-schools-counties-watch-list-stay-closed/" target="_blank">California</a>, public authorities are forbidding many private institutions from teaching in‐​person. Such prohibitions must be lifted.</p> <p>These actions may be intended to protect public schools’ pocketbooks. For instance, the chief health official in Montgomery County, Maryland, has said&nbsp;<a href="https://bethesdamagazine.com/bethesda-beat/schools/gayles-says-he-has-not-rescinded-his-order-prohibiting-in-person-lessons-for-private-school/" target="_blank">no private school can open</a>&nbsp;until at least October 1, a&nbsp;date right after the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/maryland-governor-reverses-county-decree-against-private-school-reopening" target="_blank">enrollment “count day”</a>&nbsp;that determines how much state and federal funding public schools get.</p> <p>Of course, health concerns may be the only driver of such decisions. But school‐​aged children appear to face very low levels of COVID danger. According to CDC data, Americans ages 5&nbsp;to 17 account for&nbsp;<a href="https://www.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#demographics" target="_blank">less than 0.1 percent</a>&nbsp;of all COVID-19 deaths, and since tracking began, it has accounted for less than 1&nbsp;percent&nbsp;<a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid_weekly/index.htm" target="_blank">of all deaths</a>&nbsp;in the 5‐​to‐​14 age group. While increasing safety measures is important, kids appear to face greater dangers than COVID-19.</p> <p>What about teachers and administrators? Adults are at greater risk than children, but private schools will do many things to protect them, including mandatory mask wearing, face shields, social distancing, improved air filtration, and more. And teachers unwilling or unable to work in‐​person could choose jobs in online‐​only schools.</p> <p>The simple fact is all communities, families, and children are different, and they need educational options reflective of that diversity.</p> </div> Tue, 11 Aug 2020 09:18:24 -0400 Neal McCluskey https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/covid-19-has-made-it-undeniable-we-need-school-choice Coronavirus vs. One‐​Size‐​Fits‐​All Education https://www.cato.org/multimedia/cato-daily-podcast/coronavirus-vs-one-size-fits-all-education Neal McCluskey, Caleb O. Brown <div class="mb-3 spacer--nomargin--last-child text-default"> <p>The coronavirus has inspired some widely varying schooling decisions for parents. How do public bureaucracies need to adapt? Neal McCluskey comments.</p> </div> Mon, 10 Aug 2020 17:09:58 -0400 Neal McCluskey, Caleb O. Brown https://www.cato.org/multimedia/cato-daily-podcast/coronavirus-vs-one-size-fits-all-education Neal McCluskey discusses Texas lawmakers’ support for the School Choice Now Act on KTRH’s Houston’s Morning News https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/neal-mccluskey-discusses-texas-lawmakers-support-school-choice-0 Thu, 30 Jul 2020 14:05:39 -0400 Neal McCluskey https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/neal-mccluskey-discusses-texas-lawmakers-support-school-choice-0 Neal McCluskey discusses Texas lawmakers’ support for the School Choice Now Act on KTRH’s Houston’s Morning News https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/neal-mccluskey-discusses-texas-lawmakers-support-school-choice Thu, 30 Jul 2020 14:02:27 -0400 Neal McCluskey https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/neal-mccluskey-discusses-texas-lawmakers-support-school-choice Why Not More Private School Closures? Increasing Evidence Suggests They’re Offering In‐​Person Education Many Families Want https://www.cato.org/blog/why-not-more-private-school-closures-increasing-evidence-suggests-theyre-offering-person Neal McCluskey <p>Last week <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/why-not-more-permanent-private-school-closures">I contemplated </a>why we weren’t seeing more permanent private school closures due to COVID-19. Since I wrote that we have seen <a href="https://www.cato.org/covid-19-permanent-private-closures">no more COVID‐​connected closures</a>—the last one was announced on July 14—and the count on our tracker remains at 107 schools. Reports from around the country are increasingly pointing to one possible reason for the relative dearth of closures: As more school districts declare that they will open with online‐​only or just partially in‐​person delivery, private schools are gaining families who want face‐​to‐​face schooling.</p> <p> </p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="bf3d116c-329b-46bc-b48b-3e16d74ac16a" class="align-center embedded-entity" data-langcode="en"> <img srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-07/closings%2072920.png?itok=HBUVSKnd 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/2020-07/closings%2072920.png?itok=xXOcCv2O 1.5x" width="700" height="167" src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/2020-07/closings%2072920.png?itok=HBUVSKnd" alt="Permanent Private School COVID Closures by Date" typeof="Image" class="component-image" /></div> <p>Here’s a quick reminder of the four possible reasons I <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/why-not-more-permanent-private-school-closures">came up with last week</a> for unexpectedly low closure numbers. Read <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/why-not-more-permanent-private-school-closures">the original post</a> for longer explanations of each one:</p> <ol><li><strong>Too Early: </strong>Maybe schools haven’t made final decisions yet and many more closures are coming</li> <li><strong>Gaining Students: </strong>Maybe revenue hits from donations lost to closed church services, and families suffering economic hardships and having to withdraw, have been offset by new families looking for in‐​person, and maybe smaller, schooling</li> <li><strong>Off the Radar: </strong>Our tracker may be missing closures, especially of smaller, more independent schools</li> <li><strong>Paycheck Protection Program: </strong>This federal program may have helped to stave off insolvency for many schools</li> </ol><p>It is possibility number 2 for which we are seeing increasing support. As I linked to last week, we have seen reports from <a href="https://lasvegassun.com/news/2020/jul/20/some-parents-turn-to-private-schools-to-get-kids-b/">Nevada</a>, <a href="https://www.ksby.com/news/local-news/some-families-considering-charter-or-private-schools-during-pandemic">California</a>, and <a href="https://www.startribune.com/private-schools-see-interest-spike-due-to-public-school-uncertainty/571833171/?refresh=true">Minnesota</a> of parents turning to private schools in search of in‐​person education. Since then we have seen reports from <a href="https://www.whec.com/rochester-new-york-news/waiting-lists-at-catholic-private-schools-after-public-schools-release-hybrid-reopening-plans/5808473/">New York</a>, <a href="https://kfoxtv.com/news/coronavirus/some-private-schools-see-increase-in-enrollment-for-back-to-school-despite-covid-19">Texas</a>, and the <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/as-public-schools-go-all-virtual-in-fall-parents-eye-private-schools-that-say-they-will-open-their-campuses/2020/07/26/1e446ab0-cc5b-11ea-b0e3-d55bda07d66a_story.html">Washington, DC</a> area. This is all anecdotal – we don’t have nationally representative data – but it is consistent with the relatively low closure numbers we have been seeing.</p> <p>Not that COVID-19 hasn’t inflicted damage on private schooling. We have only been able to find long‐​term tracking on annual private‐​school closures for Catholic schools, but it suggests that this is going to be a tough year, at least for that subset of private schools. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops is predicting that <a href="https://www.catholicnews.com/services/englishnews/2020/financial-fallout-from-pandemic-recession-causes-catholic-schools-to-close.cfm">up to 150 Catholic schools</a> could close this year, which would be the <a href="https://www.ncea.org/store/detail.aspx?id=RES-55-1623">highest total since 2012</a>. Our tracker shows 90 Catholic schools closing at least in part due to experienced or anticipated COVID-19 financial problems. Assuming many of those schools would have remained in business absent COVID-19, the virus does appear to be taking a toll on private schools.</p> <p>COVID-19 is hurting private schools. But perhaps due to new families moving to them, it increasingly appears that the toll will be less punishing than I originally feared.</p> Wed, 29 Jul 2020 13:44:58 -0400 Neal McCluskey https://www.cato.org/blog/why-not-more-private-school-closures-increasing-evidence-suggests-theyre-offering-person Neal McCluskey discusses reopening schools and school choice on WWL’s First News with Tommy Tucker https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/neal-mccluskey-discusses-reopening-schools-school-choice-wwls Wed, 29 Jul 2020 12:33:01 -0400 Neal McCluskey https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/neal-mccluskey-discusses-reopening-schools-school-choice-wwls