Empty school hallway
Susan Pendergrass

In these uncertain times, few things are certain. But one thing we do know for certain is that parents are anxious about schools reopening this fall. Although very few school districts have released reopening plans, it’s probably safe to say that some will be deemed unsatisfactory by a lot of parents.

That’s because parents want different things. Some are ready to send their kids back to school right now, and may really want or need a full-time in-person schedule instead of an alternating schedule. Clearly some parents want only virtual education—but for differing amounts of time. One in ten parents wants to wait out the whole year. The graph below, from a recent study by the American Enterprise Institute, reflects how parents are thinking differently about school reopening:

Parents poll

Hopefully, policymakers and education leaders in Missouri are hard at work trying to figure this out. One obvious move is to ensure that parents can easily enroll their children in the existing, approved virtual programs through the Missouri Course Access Program (MOCAP). Requiring district permission to do so is ridiculous at this point.

A second immediate need is to let parents seek out and purchase the education that they’re comfortable with this fall. A Learn Safely Scholarship would give parents funds to spend on education resources, like private school tuition, as they see fit. Putting funds directly in the hands of parents would help fill the void in what districts are providing.

Parents have become front-line workers in public education, and many are exhausted and anxious from the experience. The time to figure out how to educate every Missouri student is now, not after we see the reopening fallout.


About the Author

Susan Pendergrass
Director of Research and Education Policy

Susan Pendergrass was Vice President of Research and Evaluation for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools before joining the Show-Me Institute. Prior to coming to the National Alliance, Susan was a senior policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Education during the Bush administration and a senior research scientist at the National Center for Education Statistics during the Obama administration. She earned a Ph.D. in Public Policy from George Mason University.