As Kentucky and other states slowly (at least in Kentucky’s case) start to reopen the economy, one of the questions on a lot of folks’ minds is how – or if – schools will reopen. Absent a solid cure or vaccine for COVID-19, social distancing, masking, safe serving of meals and a host of other needs make reopening schools a really big challenge.
And, I have been wondering if schools do reopen whether parents won’t be satisfied with whatever COVID-19 actions are taken and will keep their kids at home until the situation becomes much clearer. But, I had not seen any media source deal with a closely related question: will parents choose to never send their kids back to public school now that they have had a chance to experience how their children perform in a homeschool situation?
Now, a new poll, apparently sponsored by the American Federation for Children and conducted by Real Clear Opinion Research provides the first formal survey I’ve seen about what families are thinking regarding the question of public school or not. And, the answers are really attention getting.
The poll summary shows one key finding among parents surveyed is:
- 40% of Families More Likely to Homeschool After Lockdowns End.
Wow! That is a much higher percentage than any limited speculation in the media (not based on surveys) has shown.
Some other key responses in the new survey, which include responses from other voters besides parents:
- 64% support school choice, and
- 69% support the federal Education Freedom Scholarships proposal
Another surprise in the poll is a breakdown of those more likely to homeschool by political party. Among those who identified as Democrat, 47.5% are more likely to homeschool while among Republicans the percentage more likely to homeschool was slightly lower at 42.3%.
So, this might not be a liberal versus conservative deal. For whatever reason, it appears that both sides of the aisle realize in notable numbers that an alternative to public schools will work better for their child in the COVID-19 world.
There are some important implications from this survey for planning school reopening. If 40% – or anything close to that number – of students don’t come back to public school, it will make challenges for public schools like social distancing and supervision easier. It also will have obvious impacts on things like school meals and overall staffing needs. This might reduce the need for expensive new construction, too.
This new poll might not represent Kentucky’s parents’ thinking very well, but going forward school planners in Kentucky certainly need find out how many of the state’s public school students won’t come back in the fall, if ever. Absent such information, planning for school reopening in the Bluegrass State is likely to be based on faulty decisions that could misdirect resources and cost a lot of money the state simply doesn’t have to waste.