Each month more parents are pulling their children out of the district and choosing another path. While most of the local Charter schools have waiting lists, a parent can file free of charge what’s called a “Private School Affidavit” at any time and begin homeschooling. There is so much interest that organizers of the CA Annual School Choice Fair are expecting record attendance at their January 30th event. Across the county, homeschooling is more popular than ever, so we decided to take a look at the local situation.
3x More SDUSD Families Choosing to Homeschool
According to data obtained from the California Department of Education, almost 3x as many families within SDUSD’s boundaries have chosen to homeschool this year compared to the pre-pandemic average. The increase started last school year during the shut down and continues to increase. Another 55 families filed PSA’s just in the time since San Diego Unified announced they are postponing Phase 2 indefinitely.
We specifically asked for PSA’s filed where San Diego Unified was listed as the home District and for which the number of students was under 6. The PSA process is used by all kinds of private schools so keeping the student count under 6 captures most homeschooling families, while avoiding larger private schools / formalized instructional arrangements. Still, these numbers don’t capture all homeschooling families because many choose to homeschool through Private School Satellite Programs (PSPs).
While we aren’t going to do a deep dive into the reasons SDUSD parents are choosing to homeschool, on all sides it comes down to a lack of options provided by the district. We began following the topic because many reopenSDUSD parents ask us about homeschooling as they struggle with the district’s one-size-fits-all distance learning arrangement. Unlike most surrounding school districts which offered parents the option to enroll in Independent Learning Programs (ie Lakeside and Poway), SDUSD never gave parents this choice. San Diego Unified runs an independent study program called Mt. Everest Academy, but did not expand it to families who needed more flexibility. Similarly, when SDUSD communicated its plan for the Phase 2 hybrid model, it left out much of the detail. Compare SDUSD’s parent information to that from Cajon Valley from August. Or check out the detail Santee School District provided parents in July 2020. This planning is why students at both Cajon Valley and Santee have attended on-site since September 2020.
SDUSD’s lack of detail doesn’t just affect parents who desire onsite options. Parents in the district who may want to remain in distance learning were not given information about how that scenario would look either. This is a stark contrast to districts like Carlsbad and Encinitas, which moved students who wished to remain distant learning into a special program. Encinitas calls theirs Cloud Campus and Carlsbad’s is the Seaside Academy. In summary, it’s no surprise families are leaving San Diego Unified since the district has shown little interest in trying to meet their needs.
The 21-22 budget currently being negotiated in Sacramento has a provision to allow San Diego Unified to use its attendance (ADA) from February 2020, before it closed, to calculate state funding. This means for yet another year, SDUSD will have no motivation to listen to the voices of parents. The district will get money for your child’s headcount regardless of what you choose to do. In fact, it works out better for them when students leave. If you think this is wrong please contact your legislators and join our class action.