Yet across the U.S., many school districts, especially those in large metro areas, still remain closed to in-person learning for some if not all grades and may not reopen at the start of 2021.
According to the Pew Research Center, 72% of parents in lower-income brackets report being “very” or “somewhat” concerned this fall that their children are “falling behind in school as a result of the disruptions caused by the pandemic.” With thousands of students not in class, even virtually, and falling grades among those who are attending, who can blame them?
For taxpayers and policymakers looking for lessons in the pandemic, the utter failure of school assignment systems to provide quality-learning options to all students, especially the most vulnerable, is clear.
The quality and consistency of the education a child received during the pandemic has been dependent on the attendance boundary in which that child’s family lives. At the same time, so many of the issues plaguing education during the pandemic—and for that matter, the entire century leading up to the pandemic—are rooted in policies that fund school systems, rather than individual students.
Allowing dollars to follow children directly to any public or private school of choice is a critical emergency policy reform that states should pursue. Such a policy change is overdue.