New survey shows spike in misbehavior among K-12 students

New survey shows spike in misbehavior among K-12 students

survey

New survey shows spike in misbehavior among K-12 students

Key Points

  •  A new survey puts forward more evidence of increased social and behavioral problems among students in K-12 public schools arising from the pandemic.

  • Georgia parents need more education options for their children. 
  • GCO is working to bring a new curriculum, called Raising Highly Capable Kidz (RHCK), to schools, nonprofits, churches, and other outlets across the state.

We’ve paid a lot of attention to learning loss arising from school shutdowns during the pandemic, and rightly so. The results of the latest Nation’s Report Card from the U.S. Department of Education, for example, show test scores in reading and math in public schools at their lowest levels in decades.

But there is another side to the cost of school closures that doesn’t get as much attention — the social side. Now, a new survey puts forward more evidence of increased social and behavioral problems among students in K-12 public schools arising from the pandemic.

According to the annual School Pulse Panel published by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences, more than eight in 10 public schools “have seen stunted behavioral and socioemotional development in their students because of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The survey went on to find that “minor offenses, such as tardiness and classroom disruptions, are the most frequently cited illicit behaviors that have increased in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Here are some notable excerpts from the survey:

  • 84% of surveyed public school leaders said the pandemic had “negatively impacted the behavioral development of students” in their schools
  • 30% reported an increase in bullying as a result of the pandemic
  • 33% reported physical attacks between students
  • 36% reported threats of physical attacks or fights between students
  • 49% reported a jump in student “rowdiness outside of the classroom (e.g., hallways, lunchroom)”
  • 56% reported “classroom disruptions from student misconduct”
  • 42% reported “use of cell phones, computers, other electronics when not permitted”
  • 24% reported vandalism
  • 11% of public schools reported an increase in physical attacks on teachers or staff members influenced by the pandemic
  • 13% reported threats to injure a teacher or staff member
  • 36% reported verbal abuse of teachers or staff members.

 

The Raising Highly Capable Kids model is built on an evidence-based program that teaches 40 developmental assets that reduce risky behavior in kids and teens. We are looking for partners to help bring this to our community.

The Raising Highly Capable Kids model is built on an evidence-based program that teaches 40 developmental assets that reduce risky behavior in kids and teens. We are looking for partners to help bring this to our community.

Where to go from here

So, what are we supposed to do with this information? Here are three takeaways.

  1. Learning loss is only part of the equation

We must remember that other factors are also at play beyond learning less when determining strategies to help students recover. Isolation, increased screen time, chance of physical or emotional abuse, substance abuse, and general anxiety over the direction of society are just some of the factors in play here. And the sad reality is that many of these negative trend lines were already in place for young people prior to the pandemic. The pandemic simply revealed and worsened them.

  1. Georgia needs more options

The struggles students are facing in public schools underscores the need for a diverse menu of educational options, open and available to all families regardless of income or zip code. Every student deserves an education customized to his or her individual needs and aptitudes. This is why tools like an Education Scholarship Account are so important. An ESA in Georgia would empower parents to pick the best educational option — or the best assortment of educational tools — for their unique student.

In the last session of the Georgia Legislature, lawmakers fell short of passing ESAs in the form of Promise Scholarships, which would have allotted $6,000 a year for families to choose alternative educational approaches. The Georgia Center for Opportunity team is hopeful things will be different this session and that ESAs will finally become a reality.

  1. Students in traditional public schools need help, too

Even as educational options expand in Georgia, the fact remains that most families will still choose their locally zoned public school. These students need help, too. That’s why GCO is working to bring a new curriculum, called Raising Highly Capable Kidz (RHCK), to schools, nonprofits, churches, and other outlets across the state. RHCK is a 13-week evidence-based parenting program developed to build stronger families by empowering parents with the confidence, tools, and skills they need to raise healthy, caring, and responsible children. The course works through 40 key development assets to help kids.

The GCO team will be working to roll out the RHCK curriculum across Georgia in the coming weeks and months, so stay tuned for more!

5 Reasons Why It’s a Good Idea to Expand Georgia’s Tax Credit Scholarship

5 Reasons Why It’s a Good Idea to Expand Georgia’s Tax Credit Scholarship

5 Reasons Why It’s a Good Idea to Expand Georgia’s Tax Credit Scholarship

Key Points

  • Georgia legislators are considering a 2023 proposal to increase the cap for Georgia’s tax credit scholarship program.
  • The communities’ positive response to the scholarship has created a demand for more students to participate.

  • Raising the cap on Georgia’s tax credit scholarship program would help students, parents, and the state’s overall education system.

Georgia legislators are considering a 2023 proposal to increase the cap for Georgia’s tax credit scholarship program. Through this program, businesses and individuals can donate toward private school scholarships for K-12 students enrolled in public schools. In return, they receive a dollar-for-dollar state income tax credit. 

In 2022, the state Legislature raised the cap by $20 million, bringing it up to $120 million from $100 million. But that increase hasn’t proven large enough to keep up with communities’ positive response. 

“It’s clear that demand for the program is strong. The existing $120 million cap was met on the very first day of applications this year,” noted Buzz Brockway, Vice President of Public Policy at the Georgia Center for Opportunity. “Georgia families are demanding more options, and lawmakers would be wise to take notice.”

Here are a few reasons why raising the cap on Georgia’s tax credit scholarship program would help students, parents, and the state’s overall education system: 

  1. The Tax Credit Scholarship Program makes private school access more equitable. Traditionally, private schools have been an education option only for families who could afford the tuition and fees. These costs often put private schools out of reach for lower and middle-income households. Georgia’s tax credit scholarship program alleviates some of this inequity by making private school scholarships available to K-12 public school students in need. As a result, more families can look at private schools as a viable option when the local public school isn’t the best fit for their child.

But what about families in rural areas? Aren’t tax credit scholarship programs biased toward urban or suburban areas where there are more private schools? According to a 2017 national study by The Brookings Institute, 69% of families living in rural areas have a private school within 10 miles. Increasing the program cap for Georgia’s tax credit scholarships would help rural Georgia families in this situation. For those that aren’t, there’s still a benefit: Growing the tax credit scholarship program is a way to encourage more private schools to launch and fill education gaps in areas where options are fewer and farther between. 

  1. Raising the program cap makes it possible to serve more kids. This point is critical because 500,000 Georgia students are currently in schools that are underperforming or simply aren’t meeting their specific needs. Increasing the program cap means more families could enjoy the flexibility to consider one of Georgia’s 824 private schools when seeking out educational environments that match their kid’s learning style, their personal values, or other preferences. In 2021, 17,440 scholarships were awarded to eligible students. Imagine how many more kids we could help if Georgia’s tax credit scholarship program expanded to $200 million!
  1. Expanding our tax credit scholarship program would bring Georgia up-to-date with other states. Florida, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Iowa, and Nevada have all taken note of the growing popularity of tax credit scholarships and have responded by increasing caps on their various programs. Whether it’s tax credit scholarships or other vehicles like Education Savings Accounts, the momentum to embrace more education choice programs is building across many states. It’s time for Georgia to catch up. An easy way to do that? Raise our state’s tax credit scholarship cap. 

Growing the tax credit scholarship program is a way to encourage more private schools to launch and fill education gaps in areas where options are fewer and farther between. 

Growing the tax credit scholarship program is a way to encourage more private schools to launch and fill education gaps in areas where options are fewer and farther between. 

  1. It’s one option to relieve parents’ frustration with one-size-fits-all education options. A recent poll of 5,000 parents, conducted by the Harris Poll, revealed that 20% of parents switched schools for their kids during the pandemic. The pandemic itself is a tired topic, but the trend it introduced in education isn’t: Over the last two years, parents’ desire for more education options has skyrocketed as many of them realize that traditional public schools don’t work for every kid. 

By investing in educational choice programs, we can guarantee families access to a variety of stellar learning experiences that help their children reach great heights—academically, socially, vocationally…the list goes on. Georgia’s tax credit scholarship program makes private schools one of these meaningful options, regardless of where families live or how much they earn. 

  1. Increasing education tax credits gets more businesses and individuals involved in our kids’ futures. A quality education, tailored to a student’s unique needs, prepares kids for the workplace, for community involvement, and for life. That’s why education is more than a parental concern—it should be a community priority. We all benefit when kids have access to the education option that will help them become healthy, successful citizens, employees, relatives, and friends as they grow up. Georgia’s Tax Credit Scholarship gives our communities—both businesses and taxpayers—a way to directly invest in K-12 education and ensure bright futures for our students. By raising the program cap, we can expand the investment opportunities available to current donors and to new businesses and individuals who want to get involved.  

Learn more about education choice in Georgia

EVERY Kid In Georgia Deserves
A Quality Education

Related Reading: Georgia School Choice In the News

Georgia students need more schooling choices (GCO in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Renewed push to expand Georgia’s private school tuition subsidies (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) 

Proposed bill would increase Georgia’s tax credit scholarship program cap (The Center Square)

School choice in 2023: 10 states to watch (Washington Examiner)



Now is the time to expand educational freedom in Georgia

Now is the time to expand educational freedom in Georgia

kids hands raised.

Now is the time to expand educational freedom in Georgia

Key Points

  • Georgia’s recent growth could be halted because it’s falling behind other states who are increasingly offering families more and more choices in K-12 education.
  •  Georgia lawmakers have another chance this year at passing ESAs. 
  • Georgia’s public schools are serving most families well — and public schools are the best option for most families in our state. But for some families, traditional public schools aren’t the best fit for their child’s needs.

Georgia is one of the fastest growing states in the country, and for good reason. But we imperil our ongoing growth if we fail to offer families the opportunity to choose a world-class education for their children. That means giving all students access to the right school for them — whether that’s a traditional public school, a public charter school, a private school, or a homeschool.

By falling short on this goal, Georgia risks falling behind other states who are increasingly offering families more and more choices in K-12 education. Two of the latest examples are Iowa and Utah. 

In Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds recently signed a bill into law that creates Education Scholarship Accounts (or ESAs) for lower income Iowa families, allowing the money to follow the child to the best school for his or her unique needs. The program will be phased in over three years until it’s available to all families regardless of income.

Meanwhile, the state House in Utah approved a bill last week that would create a similar ESA, with dollars available for families to use for expenses like private school tuition, therapies, tutors, or other curriculum. That bill next goes to the state Senate.

Many Georgia parents are likely looking at families in Iowa and Utah and wondering, “Why can’t we get the same level of educational opportunity here?” It’s a good question. Year after year, lawmakers in the Georgia General Assembly have considered passing our own version of an ESA, but each year the measure has fallen short.

In the current 2023 session, lawmakers have another shot at passing ESAs and it’s well past time to make them a reality. The biggest argument against ESAs is that they will hurt traditional public schools. This couldn’t be further from the truth. We believe that when families are well served by our K-12 education infrastructure, all schools will benefit. 

Georgia risks falling behind other fast-growing states unless we address the need to offer a truly diverse set of educational options.

Georgia risks falling behind other fast-growing states unless we address the need to offer a truly diverse set of educational options.

The bottom line is that Georgia’s public schools are serving most families well — and public schools are the best option for most families in our state. But for some families, traditional public schools aren’t the best fit for their child’s needs. And in many cases, those schools will never be the right fit due to challenges and needs that can’t be met at those schools.

That’s why more options are needed. Georgia risks falling behind other fast-growing states unless we address the need to offer a truly diverse set of educational options. Let’s make 2023 the year that progress happens.

 

Why educational opportunity is good for rural areas, too

Why educational opportunity is good for rural areas, too

middle school charter school

Why educational opportunity is good for rural areas, too

  • ESAs could potentially open the doors to establishing more private schools in Georgia, in both rural and urban areas.
  • ESAs would allow parents to allocate funds to their children’s specific educational needs.
  • ESAs have a positive impact on families in rural communities.

This year, the Georgia Legislature is poised to once again consider creating Education Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) for families statewide. These scholarships would allocate funds to allow parents to choose the best educational option for their child’s unique needs.

Expanding educational access should be a welcome development for lawmakers and citizens alike. After all, who could argue with the idea of making educational opportunities more accessible? Unfortunately, expanding access to a wider variety of schools and academic opportunities can be an issue that divides lawmakers not only along party lines, but along the lines of an urban-rural divide as well.

For instance, Georgia lawmakers who represent rural areas have raised concerns about the impact that expanded educational opportunities could have on their local school districts. The argument goes like this: Rural areas tend to lack access to private or charter schools compared to urban areas, so efforts to increase the diversity of educational options will end up siphoning money away from traditional public schools, the one and only option available in rural districts.

As the Georgia Legislature is set to take up a bill that would create ESAs, now is a great time to debunk the myth that educational opportunity simply doesn’t benefit rural areas.

Let’s jump right into it.

Myth 1: There aren’t enough private schools near rural areas to justify ESAs

In a December 2022 interview with Conduit News, Dr. Patrick Wolf busted the myth that families living in rural areas don’t have access to private schools. He cited a 2017 Brookings Institution survey that revealed 69% of rural families live within 10 miles’ driving distance of a private school. 

“Ten miles is easy commuting distance, especially when you live out in the sticks like I do,” said Wolf. “So, the overwhelming majority of families in rural areas do have access to private schools.”

Of course, when there is demand for any product, service, or offering, society finds ways to meet those demands. The same is true for educational opportunities. Wolf explains: “The other thing that happens when school choice programs are launched statewide is more private schools spring up because there’s a greater opportunity to serve students. When you increase the demand for school choice by making it more feasible to more families, supply emerges to meet that demand. It’s just straight economics.”

In other words, ESAs could potentially open the doors to establishing more private schools in Georgia, in both rural and urban areas. 

At the time of this writing, there are 824 private schools across the state of Georgia, with 152,851 students enrolled. During 2021-2022, there were 90 charter schools in the state as well. While that number is dwarfed by Georgia’s public schools (2,308, with 1,728,049 students enrolled), it’s still significant.

Broadening educational opportunity would effectively give parents in rural areas a reason to demand more options where they live. If Wolf’s assessment of supply and demand is correct (and we believe it is), then we can expect that more rural families will benefit from private schools in the coming years as a direct result of ESAs. 

Myth 2: Disadvantaged kids don’t benefit from private or charter schools

Opponents of expanded educational opportunity often argue that disadvantaged kids don’t benefit from it. The National Coalition for Public Education argues that vouchers hurt rural areas not only because fewer students attend public schools, but also because the students themselves have to take on heavier time and economic costs in order to attend private and charter schools. They also argue that public schools are the facilities best equipped to serve diverse student populations, including minorities, students with special needs, and students from low-income areas.

But the previously cited Brookings Institution survey revealed that the majority of rural families do have reasonable access to a private school. Research also shows that disadvantaged students do, indeed, benefit from expanded educational opportunity. Students in charter schools tend to perform better academically than their peers in public schools. What’s more, low-income and ethnic minority students showed the most significant academic gains when enrolled in charter schools.

Keep in mind, too, that ESAs would allow parents to allocate funds to their children’s specific educational needs. That means families can use those funds to choose a school that is the best fit for that child. While lobbying groups and district superintendents may argue that state-funded schools are the best equipped to handle those needs, parents are ultimately the primary authority on what their children need to be successful.

 

 

Ultimately, giving families more educational options has a positive impact on long-term results, academic achievement, and parental satisfaction.

Ultimately, giving families more educational options has a positive impact on long-term results, academic achievement, and parental satisfaction.

Myth 3: Educational opportunity could hurt — not help — rural communities

Yet another argument against opening up educational opportunity is that it could hurt rural communities. In reality, though, it’s rural districts that fear losing students to private or charter schools. This isn’t a partisan issue — in fact, legislators on both sides of the aisle have argued against educational opportunity in rural areas.

They often make these arguments on behalf of superintendents, who claim that educational opportunity will have irreversible economic consequences on their districts. For example, rural superintendents often argue that important public school jobs will be lost as a result of tools like ESAs. Cuts in state funding could lead to budget cuts, resulting in fewer public school resources and causing employees in the district to lose their jobs.

However, recent data out of Florida — a state with strong educational opportunity — shows that ESAs have a positive impact on families in rural communities. As of the 2021-2022 school year, there had been a 10.6% enrollment increase in rural charter, private, and homeschool students in comparison to the previous decade. Private school scholarships had boomed, coming in at 6,992 in 2021-2022 as opposed to 1,706 in 2011-2012.

On top of all that, the demand for private schools has resulted in the creation of more. Over the past two decades, Florida’s rural private schools have almost doubled, from 69 to 120. Arguably, any jobs lost in a public school district as a result of educational opportunity could be replaced by the expansion of private school availability in any given area.

Ultimately, giving families more educational options has a positive impact on long-term results, academic achievement, and parental satisfaction. As parents and students are a part of their rural communities, it’s difficult to argue that these outcomes are detrimental to the areas in which they live.

 

Georgia is leading the charge on expanding educational opportunity for every child

Georgia is leading the charge on expanding educational opportunity for every child

School children

Georgia is leading the charge on expanding educational opportunity for every child

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has issued a proclamation declaring January 22-28 as National School Choice Week.

The Georgia Center for Opportunity’s (GCO) take: “Parents are demanding more options in education, spurred on by the seismic changes we’ve seen in K-12 schools during the pandemic,” said Buzz Brockway, executive vice president of public policy for GCO. “On this front, we’re proud that Georgia is leading the charge on expanding educational opportunity for every child, not just for those from families with the right income or who live in the right zip code. This legislative session, Georgia lawmakers must build on the progress we’ve made in recent years by approving Education Scholarship Accounts to ensure educational access for all.”

 

Opinion: Georgia students need more schooling choices

Opinion: Georgia students need more schooling choices

In The News

Opinion: Georgia students need more schooling choices

Georgia lawmakers have a unique opportunity this legislative session to change lives. All it takes is one step — passing Education Scholarship Accounts, or ESAs.

The undeniable truth is that parents want more educational options for their children and the kids certainly deserve it after historic learning losses caused by government-mandated school closures.

A recent poll from the Walton Family Foundation found that 72% of voters believe “improving K-12 education” should be a top priority for state lawmakers headed into 2023. Only the economy and inflation ranked higher at 76%. Furthermore, the poll reveals the number of parents who want bold actions jumped by 10% from 2021 to 2022. Nearly half are now demanding major changes because minor, incremental improvements are not helping their kids catch up.

Of the learning losses from pandemic-induced classroom closures, 75% of parents said their “students are mostly still behind,” while two-thirds said their students have lost learning due to the pandemic.

Let’s not merely dismiss parental concerns about education with more lip-service or another round of half-hearted efforts that merely pour more money into unworkable solutions. After all, if one-size-fits-all solutions or throwing more money at the status quo worked, major educational reforms wouldn’t be in such high demand across the nation.

Behind the statistics are real-life stories of students and parents devastated because they are not succeeding academically but can see other promising options that are just out of reach financially. This is a heartbreaking scenario too many families are facing.

The good news is there are real ways to address learning loss by tailoring education to fit individual needs. The simplest and best way to empower students is through funding scholarship accounts that provide the flexibility that parents and guardians need and offer real results.

Direct scholarships that fund students over an educational bureaucracy tips the balance of power in favor of those who best understand the needs of their child. It allows parents and guardians to access funds directly so they can purchase curriculum, pay for private school tuition, private tutoring, or even individual therapy for the child they love. It’s better than vouchers because it can do more than just pay a tuition bill. The added assistance will improve many public schools — since it boosts student performance no matter where families decide to access education.

Unfortunately, last year’s Promise Scholarships, which would have allocated $6,000 in funds for ESAs, did not pass the legislature. It was a major lost opportunity for students and their frustrated families throughout our state.

Given that state lawmakers reconvene this month, it’s time for them to make up for the lost opportunity by passing ESAs into law and expanding educational freedom for young Georgians and their families.

And we have reason to be hopeful that that’s just what they’ll do. The new lineup of leadership in the Georgia legislature increases the likelihood that ESAs will become law. In both chambers of the General Assembly, the leadership teams have nearly universal pro- educational opportunity voting records in recent history — something very new to the Georgia political landscape.

The simple truth is that it’s past time for our elected leaders to make good on their fundamental obligation to provide for the effective education of every child in Georgia. Parents and guardians are demanding it and their students are suffering without it. It’s time for true leaders to step forward and deliver.

We will stand and fight with these families until more options like Promise Scholarship are a reality.

Read the full article here

Originally published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution