No matter how many ways you slice the onion, it’s becoming more and more the case that married parents are exiting or very strategically accessing the public school system. This poses real medium and long term issues regarding funding and support for public school teachers.
What does exit mean? It means 30%+ of married parents’ kids are outside the public school system or inside it via de facto segregation tactics like specialized, high-parent-participation “options” or outright effective magnets/charters within a larger public school. About 15% are in private schools, with a steady increase in private Protestant schools specifically (although the general private school split is 45% Catholic, 40% Protestant, and secular bringing up the rump end at around 15%. The classical Christian academy is maturing away from co-op models to full-time private schools all over the country. Another approximately 7% are homeschooling full time, typically longer than a year but less than full K-12. Another 8-10% are doing various combinations of specialized public school programs, homeschooling using the public school curriculum (public-private partnership, “alternative educational approach”, the various names for this make it hard to break out on its own), and mixed schooling (combining several part-time school options).
Homeschooling is completely normalized now as an option to include in the college prep race among the very parents who dominate married parenthood, the college educated majority. It’s not part of a “fundie fringe”, it’s something a double digit percentage of married parents do for at least one year between K-12.
Also, kids just never stop costing money now, because all these options have costs in time and money. Either you’re writing checks, one parent is not working full time or outside the home, or both. The other side of it is that public schools push fringier and fringier views on the remaining children whose parents can’t optimize them into a special program where that stuff doesn’t come up or is cheerfully waivered out. Where I live, essentially in our version of the higher-end NYC public magnet schools, an example fringy goal is to teach transgender advocacy to kindergarteners in the “regular” public schools. It’s already approved, implementation is coming in another school year or so.
So even the very liberal parents who might be fine with this in junior high are making plans to do for-pay K or even K-3, on top of 7k/mo mortgages and 1k/mo property taxes to pay 100k salaries to teachers and 150k salaries to administrators who added this stuff to the curriculum. Exit isn’t cheap, and it’s not getting cheaper, but it is increasing over time anyway. This is not a stable equilibrium.