What is the best alternative to public school?
In the past, there have been three major forms of K-12 education: public school, private school, and home education. The vast majority of families utilize the public school system to educate their children, since it is free and close by. In the past, if a family wanted an alternative to public school, they could look to either private school or home education. However, recently there has come on the scene a fourth alternative: Echoes. But before we describe Echoes, let’s look at the reasons for wanting an alternative and the alternatives themselves.
In surveys of private school and home education parents, the top 3 reasons for choosing an alternative to the public school system are 1) a concern about the school environment, 2) a desire to obtain religious or moral education, and 3) dissatisfaction with academic quality. Certainly, there are other reasons that parents look for an alternative, but these three seem to be the major drivers. Concerns about the school environment include bullying, profanity, pornography on mobile devices, gun violence, and other secular influences from students and teachers.
The most popular alternative to public school is private school. However, private school is not within the financial capability of most families. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that about 9% of students attend private school and that number is flat for the past 10 years.
The least popular alternative to public school has always been home education but the data there is more interesting. The NCES reports that the total students in home education was increasing steadily until about 2012 when the percentage of home educators leveled off at about 3.3%. However, the most recent report from NCES shows that during the COVID pandemic, homeschooling jumped to 5.4% of students. It will be interesting to see if the increase is durable or if the new home educators return to other alternatives.
Recently, there has arrived a fourth alternative in K-12 education. Echoes is an online platform that combines the best parts of the other three alternatives and avoids their weaknesses. For families concerned about the school environment, echoes facilitates the establishment of small learning pods in local churches, offices, or homes. For families who desire religious or moral instruction, all instruction is provided through a Christian worldview and includes comprehensive character education, and for those parents dissatisfied with educational quality, Echoes provides a self-paced, top-quality education through its online platform. Echoes accreditation is pending. Additionally, it is worth mentioning that Echoes is a fully gamified environment that students love. For more information, visit Echoes at https://www.flexeducation.org/echoes/.