Families Leaving Private Schools Can Make Strong Choice Advocates

A new USA Today article by education reporter Greg Toppo is featured under the banner of “Recession fuels shift from private to public schools” — more middle-class parents with less money to spend on tuition are making the switch:

Private-school parents typically find that the structure of public schools takes some getting used to. In most states, funding for public schools is calculated on a per-student basis, based on average student counts during the first few weeks of the school year. If a student drops out after 40 days, the funding that student generated stays with the school — even if he or she does not return to that campus.

Private schools, on the other hand, risk losing tuition payments once a student leaves.

“Private schools tend to treat you more like a customer than the public schools,” [parent Angela] Allyn says. Public schools are “going to get their tax dollars whether or not you as a parent are upset. If you’re in a private school and you yank your kid out, that’s a lot of money walking out the (private school’s) door.”

Many of those parents who were accustomed to selecting private education options through their own financial means now may become stronger advocates for all kinds of school choice programs — open enrollment, public charter schools, online education, and tuition tax credits, to name some of them.

Just because the economy has helped to push these families out of the private education market doesn’t mean they are (or at least should be) limited to the assigned school in their neighborhood. They could even help other families realize the value of demanding to be treated like customers.

In any case, Colorado parents who may have to make a tough decision about pulling their kids out of private schools for financial reasons should log on to our very helpful School Choice for Kids website to locate all they need to know about their different education options and how to take advantage of them.