Only hours after California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Friday announcement of a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for all schoolchildren of FDA approval age in California, homeschooling and tutoring inquiries shot up dramatically, with some homeschooling sites even going down to the sheer volume of users searching for help, the Globe reported.
Social media was on fire over this mandate, and many education experts weighed in as well.
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By Monday, Gov. Newsom published statements from “education and public health leaders in California and throughout the country” patting the governor on the back, “applauding” his mandate announcement:
California State Parent Teacher Association President Carol Green: “California State PTA supports the use of vaccines to protect the health and safety of children and families across California.
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten: “@CFTunion ready to work with Gov. Newsom on Covid vaccines for children and staff including the mandating of vaccines (with appropriate exemptions) the semester following full authorization. Good step by @GavinNewsom”
California Teachers Association President E. Toby Boyd: “Teaching and learning are most effective in person, and the COVID-19 vaccine is a proven measure to prevent life threatening illness, keeping schools safe and open for in-person instruction, and will get us closer to being able to put this devastating pandemic behind us.
While those unions and special interest groups now appear to prioritize adults over the students, education scholars and experts expressed far different views over Newsom’s mandate announcement.
“It says a lot about who Gavin Newsom values most when you notice that his press release places the comments of the American Federation of Teachers, the California Teachers Association, the California Federation of Teachers, and the California School Employees Association above the comment of the California Medical Association, which is near the bottom,” said Lance Izumi, Senior Director of the Center for Education at the Pacific Research Institute and the author of the upcoming PRI book The Homeschool Boom: Pandemic, Policies, and Possibilities. “The comments of Fauci and the CMA bookend the real power influencers for the Newsom administration–the teachers and staff unions and the public education blob. But Newsom and the public education deep state are too clever by half because their ham-fisted top-down authoritarianism will push legions of parents and their children into abandoning the public school system for homeschooling. The current un-enrollment trend is about to become a torrent.”
Across California, state figures show that K-12 enrollment fell by 160,000 students, which was a 3-percent dip and the largest drop in enrollment in twenty years.
In the Los Angeles Unified School District, enrollment dropped by 27,000 students, which was a nearly 6 percent fall. The Los Angeles Times noted that this percentage decline “is three times what planners in the nation’s second-largest school district predicted.”
Even more ominous for the future of the regular public schools is the plunge in enrollment among the nation’s youngest students.
Specifically, in California, Izumi said a report by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics found, “Charter schools saw enrollment increases for nearly every racial and ethnic subgroup, while district public schools saw enrollment decreases for nearly every racial and ethnic subgroup. Specifically, charter schools saw particularly large increases of Asian, Filipino, Hispanic, and multi-racial students. District public schools saw a particularly large decrease in White and Black students.”
Janelle Smiley, President of California Parents for Public Virtual Education, and mother of two online charter-school graduates said, “Largely because of the educational disruptions caused by the pandemic, many California parents saw firsthand the failings of the traditional classroom brought to their kitchen table. School closures and the subsequent classroom zooms started out as a difficult inconvenience, and quickly turned into a huge wake-up call.”
Smiley also cited the National Center for Education Statistics and reported California charter schools had 15,283 new children enroll in the 2020-2021 school year, a 2.3% increase from the previous year. By contrast, the state’s public schools saw a decline of 175,761 students, a 3.2% drop.”During the 2020-21 school year, the pandemic forced schools of all types to close their doors and switch to remote learning.”
Izumi says “as public schools continue to flail with controversial reopening policies, unpopular woke curricula, and unresponsive top-down one-size-fits-all edicts, parents, as the Census Bureau observes, ‘are increasingly open to options beyond the neighborhood school.’ That is why homeschooling, especially, will be the education wave of the future.”
Gov. Newsom and the teachers unions continue to push parents right into the arms of charter schools, and into homeschooling options with decisions like the vaccine mandate for school children. With so many students locked into failing California public schools already, school choice may very well be the civil rights crusade of our time.