Before the pandemic, private schools were not something many parents would have considered for their children. However, when the NYC public school system decided to go remote thousands of parents were faced with the difficulty of managing their child’s education and wellbeing.
The New York City public school system has never faced such an obstacle before. Students throughout NYC are suffering academically and some have lost so much classroom time that they will possibly repeat a year of school. Let us not forget the social and emotion development of these children that has been slowed down. Children no longer have free access to medical, educational or social services.
As the pandemic dragged on, more families were looking for schools that were fully in-person rather than remote — and, for many, that meant enrolling their child (ren) in a private school, regardless of the financial burden they had to endure.
Private schools, had the space, offered smaller classes, and had more flexibility when it came to sticking to the standards regarding curriculum, assessment and promotion. As a result, this was a great option for families wanting to send their children to school in person, thus allowing the majority of them to return to work.
But what happens now that the vaccine has arrived? Could education ever go back to the way it was? Or, will parents demand greater control over their child’s education?
Is it time to add private schools to the list of choices for parents? After all, private schools came to the rescue during the pandemic.
I believe time has come for New York to consider offering vouchers to those who wish to send their children to a private, independent or religious school. If we can fund charter schools then why can’t we support private education?
Vouchers must become the number one priority for educational change in New York. Let us take a step forward and join the other 29 states that understand the importance and need for our private schools.
*Dr. Anastasios Koularmanis is currently the Director of Education for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America