Families Take School into Their Own Hands
The pandemic paved the way for a plethora of new schooling options – and the options will keep growing in 2023.
The Covid-19 pandemic school experience was an eye-opener for many parents that got to see first hand what’s happening in their child’s classroom. What they saw wasn’t a smoothly run education machine, but a chaotic struggle of emergency lecturing, zoom fatigue, YouTube videos, and an overall lack of engagement.
One study found that 91% of students reported engaging in multitasking activities during their school sessions, with those behaviors having a negative impact on students’ memorization of content.
It was a confronting experience for many and families started seeking other options. According to Tyton Partners, an education consultancy, there was a 9% decrease in public school enrollment between the spring of 2021 and spring of 2022 (reaching its lowest point in over two decades).
50% of parents would choose a different school for their child if cost and travel were no issue.30
The call for innovation
Microschools and similar education innovators like Kaipod Catalyst, Prenda, Acton Academy, and Wildflower are looking to drastically increase schooling options in different communities. It’s difficult to get accurate numbers, but it appears as many as 2.2 million students in the US are using microschools as their full-time school for the 2022-2023 school year.31 Combine that with the 3.1 million students in the US who are homeschooling (vs. 1973 when there were just 13,000 homeschoolers), and you can see the narrative is changing.32
Microschools have smaller-than-typical class sizes (15 students or fewer in a classroom) with mixed-age level groupings.
The message is clear: families are done settling for schools that don’t serve them. Governments and edtech companies like Odyssey, MySchool, and Vela are stepping up to make the transition to other schooling options easier for families. Eight US states have set up something called Education Savings Accounts (ESA) – a groundbreaking piece of legislation that helps parents who exit the public school system access funds for educational uses of their choice – with more sure to follow.33
The real value in this increased freedom is connection – connection to like-minded students, connection to quality education, and connection to the things students really care about.
Schools are no longer the only place where knowledge is aggregated and connections are made. Approximately 15 million students in the US are piecing together their education from places outside of the classroom.34 Dual enrolment is up, too. The Education Commission of the States (ECS) found that 50 states now offer 87 different dual-enrolment programs, including 27 online35; and 28% of Education Savings Accounts (ESA) holders use their funds on multiple learning providers. 36
“Over the past two years, parents have been empowered to regain control of their children’s education and explore, or create, new learning models. Many parents exited district schools for a variety of private education options, including homeschooling, and a lot of them have decided not to return. Entrepreneurs continue to invent and innovate, building fresh K-12 education solutions that work better for families than old models of schooling. This dynamic cycle of empowerment, exit, and entrepreneurship is poised to continue and accelerate, expanding education options for more families.”Kerry McDonaldSenior Education Fellow at Foundation for Economic Education