RESEARCH

School Closures, School Choice, and Federal Funding: How the Pandemic Exposed Problems and Spurred Solutions in K-12 Education

BY RON SHULTIS

May 10, 2022 9:46AM

All across America, public schools closed their doors in response to the pandemic. These public school districts received billions of federal dollars to reopen and address learning loss, yet families saw their educational options limited by districts that chose virtual over in-person learning. Even more unfortunate is that it seems union influence may have kept some closed even though they could reopen safely. In direct response to students and parents who felt they had no voice in public education, nearly half of all states created, expanded, or improved educational choice programs. These programs returned power to parents, giving families a choice and a voice in their children’s education and making 2021 earn the moniker, the “Year of School Choice.”

Key Takeaways:

— Entering the third school year of the pandemic, some public school districts across the country still have their doors closed to in-person learning, although most private schools have been safely open throughout. These closures come despite billions of dollars in federal relief funds the public school systems took in to ensure a return to in-person learning.

— Twenty-two states created new educational choice programs or expanded existing ones in 2021 —including Oklahoma and Arizona, which used relief funds to provide additional education options to families.

— Tennessee can follow other states that have expanded educational choice through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, which has approximately $67 million unspent.