A new report uncovered that public schools in Indiana are losing students to private schools and homeschooling options for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year.
Chalkboard Review reported that public schools are seeing an “exodus” of students who are fleeing failing public schools across the state. The report found that of the 319 private schools in Indiana, 288 have seen some growth, and 154 have seen a significant enrollment increase between the 2020-2021 and the 2021-2022 school year. According to new enrollment data, 49 private schools saw at least a 150 percent increase from the previous year’s roster.
Between 2000 and 2015, private and Christian schools with approximately 500 students or less saw their numbers fluctuate by about 10 students per year. According to Chalkboard Review, private and Christian schools are seeing their communities grow by 30 students. Some have created a waitlist as their maximum capacity has been reached.
“In the last year, a large portion of these schools under 500 students have seen gains from 25 to 50 students,” Chalkboard Review reporter Anthony Kinnett writes. “In conversations with admissions staff, I discovered that some of these schools have begun placing new student candidates on ‘waitlists,’ as their maximum capacities have been exceeded.”
Examples of schools that are seeing significant growth include Suburban Christian School in Greenwood, Indiana. The school had 320 students during the 2020-2021 school year and has registered 551 students for the 2021-2022 school year.
Colonial Christian School in Indianapolis recorded 177 students in September of 2020 and has registered 205 as of July 2021.
The decrease in public school enrollment is a nationwide trend. According to a report from Education Week, more than a million students disappeared from public school rolls during the 2020-2021 school year.
“America’s public school system lost almost 1.3 million students this year, according to an Education Week analysis of state data,” the outlet reported. “The loss was spread out across the nation, touching almost every demographic group and concentrated in lower grades. It will likely have academic, financial, and staffing repercussions for years to come.”
Chalkboard Review attributes the exodus to three factors — lack of academic rigor, mask mandates, and Critical Race Theory. In conversations with parents, most cited “educational mediocrity” as the top reason for pulling their students from public schools.
The second concern is the ongoing debate around mask mandates in the classroom. Indiana is not requiring students to wear masks, though many districts are encouraging students over the age of 12 to get vaccinated.
The third most common reason parents are removing their children from public school are concerns about Critical Race Theory and “sexually explicit content” being taught in the classroom.
Indiana school boards — like most across the country — have done little to calm parents and teachers who are worried about Critical Race Theory ideology and virtual learning. Examples include a Knightstown Intermediate School teacher being called “nuts” by the superintendent for suggesting that students should return to classroom learning. Another school district passed a resolution banning parents from speaking at school board meetings unless the topic was pre-approved by the board and the district’s superintendent.
Corey DeAngelis, the National Director of Research at the American Federation for Children, told The Daily Wire that one-size-fits-all mandates, such as mandatory masking, are failing students. He encouraged state lawmakers to fund students instead of public school systems.
“The arguments about mandatory masking and CRT curriculum are just a symptom of the one-size-fits-all problem that’s inherent in the government school system. Funding students directly is the only way out of forcing one-size-fits-all mandates or bans on other people’s children,” DeAngelis said. “Frustrated families have had enough with bureaucrats controlling every aspect of their children’s educational settings and they’re now freeing their kids from the clutches of the teachers’ unions.”
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