Despite the trend toward giving parents greater choice over where their children are educated, private and parochial schools are not benefiting (“Losing Students, Private Schools Try to Change,” The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 29, 2017). In fact, public schools are educating two percent more students than they were in 2006.
It has been long assumed that if parents were given choices, the overwhelming majority would opt for private and religious schools. But that has not happened. For one thing, charter schools are growing, and affordable Catholic schools are closing. Voucher programs and tax-credit scholarships available in more than a dozen states have not been enough to make up for the losses over the past decade. That is seen in the percentage changes over the years. In 2016, private schools educated 11 percent of the nation’s student population. In 1995, they educated 14 percent of the nation’s student population.
There’s another factor given short shrift. Not all parents agree on what kind of school best meets the needs and interests of their children. It may be that despite all the negative news about traditional public schools, they still are preferred by many parents. Whether the trend will continue is another story entirely.
The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner’s Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.