Children’s Scholarship Fund enables low-income children to attend private schools — and thrive.
It has by now become a familiar and depressing trope: Those hit hardest by the pandemic and the ensuing lockdown were the families that could least afford it. This was confirmed by the Children’s Scholarship Fund in a survey of parents who receive financial aid from the organization to send their children to inner-city private (mostly Catholic) schools. More than four out of five CSF respondents have lost income in the lockdowns — almost evenly divided between those who lost a job and those who had their work hours cut. Given that the average family income of CSF scholarship recipients (the vast majority of whom are black or Hispanic) is only $37,000, the economic toll was high. In addition, one in five had a family member test positive for COVID-19, and 7 percent had someone in their immediate family hospitalized.
During these difficult times, though, it turned out that the elementary and middle schools their children attended were beacons of hope. When it came to how satisfied they were with their children’s education, almost 90 percent graded their school a 4 or 5 out of 5. And 80 percent gave their child’s experience learning from home a 4 or 5. By contrast, an Education Trust-New York poll conducted in April found that “nearly two-thirds of [public school] parents (63%) said they were “very concerned” about their child falling behind, including 71% of parents who are low-income, 72% of Black parents.” And while many public-school students have fallen behind since schools went online — with as many as one in three children in Los Angeles not even attending the class meetings — CSF principals report high rates of attendance, with 85 percent of schools reporting an average attendance over 90 percent.
It’s not surprising, then, that keeping their children in private schools has become, if anything, more important during these difficult times. When asked to rate their “most pressing economic concerns,” the CSF parents listed covering tuition as among their highest priorities, ranking ahead of groceries and medical care.
James Piereson is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
Naomi Schaefer Riley is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.
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