According to the State Board of Education, in 2019-20, there were 65,270 students enrolled in K-12 private schools in the state. By 2022-23, that number had spiked to 81,434 students.
Additionally, the number of students that are homeschooled also increased from 20,844 in 2019-20 to 29,798 in 2022-23.
According to Liv Finne at the Washington Policy Center, “The numbers show that over 110,000 parents in Washington state have decided that enrolling in controversial public schools is not the best option for their children.”
A nationwide data analysis performed by the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), the nation’s “report card,” showed that only 35 percent of Washington's 4th graders are proficient in math with 74 percent testing at a basic level for the 2022-23 school year.
The numbers got worse the older the students got with only 28 percent of 8th graders showing proficiency in math and 64 percent showing only a basic knowledge of the material.
The analysis also revealed that students in the Evergreen State lost over five months (-0.65 grade equivalents) of learning in math, while in Washington's largest district Seattle Public Schools, students were down four and a half months of learning (-0.50 grade equivalent).
Democrat Governor Jay Inslee, State Superintendent Chris Reykdal, and teachers’ unions kept public schools shuttered for in-person learning for more than a year in their response to COVID. Public schools did not welcome back students until the fall of 2021 and were regularly closed for “outbreaks.”
By comparison, private schools reopened a year earlier in the fall of 2020.
Rather than deal with the learning loss which was already evident just a few months into online learning, in May 2021, Inslee signed SB 5044 to force Critical Race Theory (CRT), including hyper-sexualized gender theory into the classrooms and universities.
Additionally, many schools have begun removing higher-level learning programs including advanced placement courses for more advanced students.
Adding to the many reasons parents are pulling their children is violence in the schools after districts like Seattle and Bellevue banned police officers from campuses.
Washington public schools are getting more desperate for enrollment, as student counts are tied to federal dollars, and have been running ads in various markets trying to get students to return.
Due to the massive loss of students, some districts including Seattle and Bellevue have already announced that some schools will be closed.
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