Leaders at Northern Virginia's religious private schools say enrollments are growing because parents are pulling their children out of public schools for many reasons, including dissatisfaction with what's being taught in places such as Fairfax and Loudoun counties, which have been centers of controversy in recent weeks.
''Parents are taking their kids out of Loudoun County Public Schools because of their disastrous handling of COVID, their failure to keep kids safe, divisive materials in the classroom and library, and the unwillingness of the School Board and superintendent to listen to anyone but a small, woke brigade of activists that have our schools under their thumb,'' Fight for Schools Executive Director Ian Prior told The Daily Signal.
He added that the drop in enrollment is ''unfortunate,'' as there are teachers who care about their students, but ''until this school system rights itself, parents will continue to opt for private school and home-schooling.''
Fairfax County is also reporting drops in public school enrollment, and John DeJak, the headmaster at Chelsea Academy, a private Catholic school in Front Royal, Virginia, told The Daily Signal that he can point to at least four families who have moved to seek out options such as those his school offers.
While part of the issue is with curriculum, the COVID-19 pandemic has also hit the public schools hard. Enrollment in Fairfax County's public schools has dropped by 10,000 students since the pandemic started, and a spokeswoman told The Daily Signal that public schools have seen drops nationwide because of the ''pandemic and the disruption it caused.''
Activists and leaders in Northern Virginia's private schools, however, say the curriculum used in public schools is at fault, with parents unhappy that their children are having lessons in sex and gender identity, as well as in critical race theory.
Parents ''lost faith in the decisions school boards made'' when they were closed during the pandemic last year, Kevin Lewis, administrator of the Calvary Road Christian School in Alexandria, Virginia, told The Daily Signal.
He added that parents want their children in a ''morally safe place'' where academics are higher, and where schools don't ''address topics that should be left to parents, such as sexuality.''
Lewis said his school's enrollment has climbed by 35% since the 2019-20 school year.
Meanwhile, Catholic school enrollments are climbing because they believe parents are their children's primary educators, said Anthony Sahadi, the principal at St. Ann Catholic School in Arlington, Virginia.
Further, he told The Daily Signal that the school's COVID policy was devised to be ''manageable, and written collaboratively with our families, administration, and teachers.''
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