A major win for school choice in California

Photo by Luis Quintero

Late Friday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (yes, the infamous 9th Circuit) ruled that California Governor Gavin Newsom violated parents’ rights by forcing private schools to remain closed during the pandemic. The governor has the ability to ban in-person learning in public schools, but has no such authority with respect to private institutions.

I grew up in California and have a lot of friends and family who still live there. This has been an extraordinarily difficult time for folks in private schools there, who have essentially been subject to the whims of the teachers union through the governor’s illegal orders. Now they can start the next academic year in peace, and will likely see an influx of new students.

The case was Branch v. Newsom, and you can read the ruling here.

While I would like to think that watching parents vote with their feet en masse might bring California politics back to sanity, I am not holding my breath. My immediate family was part of the 1990s California exodus, which really was not all that different than this one – right down to destroying gifted and talented education over race (back then it was affirmative action; they assigned racial quotas to top classes). In that cycle, everyone was headed to Colorado (where my family still lives). Now it’s Texas, Montana, and Idaho.

It is also worth noting that the number of applications to homeschool in California has tripled over the last few years (this was a trend that began before the pandemic). There are now close to 400,000 homeschoolers in the state, versus around 500,000 students in private schools. This means the homeschooling constituency is starting to rival private schools, which I find fascinating. That’s nearly a million families who have walked away from the public school system in a single state. This is why the unions fear vouchers so much – remove economics from the decision to educate your children privately, and education might be entirely privatized overnight. And you know there’s not going to be a labor market in the private domain for classroom activists. They’ll be out of work overnight.

These are both important escape hatches from failing systems and adults who do not have the best interests of children in mind. School choice is becoming less and less of a partisan issue.

I’m just going to leave this here, as we head into another round of coronavirus nonsense:

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