August 31, 2021

The Overlooked

By Alex Spurrier | Juliet Squire | Andrew J. Rotherham

Share this article

Families continue to struggle navigating a fluid    K-12 education space since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and emergence of the Delta variant. Over the last 18 months, the parents of 10.8 million did not get what they wanted from their child’s school — representing nearly one in five U.S. schoolchildren. Many families’ early concerns over access to in-person, virtual, and hybrid forms of instruction persist with the start of the 2021-22 school year.

These families are not a monolith. They live in a diverse range of communities found across America, come from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds, and span the socioeconomic spectrum. While some were more economically equipped to react, all have felt disruptions of the pandemic in their daily lives.

The Overlooked* analyzes the fundamental shift playing out among families across the country who are dealing with unresponsive systems and limited school choices this fall. The report examines public opinion polling trends and patterns, breaking Overlooked families into three distinct categories:

  • The Movers, or families who had motivation and means to change their child’s school, resulting in a shift away from traditional public and private schools.
  • The Missed parents who did not enroll their child in the prior 2020-21 school year at all.
  • The Muted families who have not yet moved from their public school systems but will not have access to their preferred remote learning options in the 2021-22 school year.

The net effect of all three groups of Overlooked families carries profound implications for K-12 school systems and policymakers alike. As entire ecosystems of instructional and operational support emerge to better meet parent demand, it is not enough for district leaders, school boards, and elected officials to see The Overlooked, they must listen to their growing calls for different options. 

Download the full report here to learn more, or read it in the viewer below.


*Correction: Due to a drafting error an earlier version of this document reported that the 15% rate of families changing their children’s school was “more than double” the pre-pandemic rate. It is actually 50% higher than the pre-pandemic rate. The error did not affect any calculations.

In addition, because of a data transcription error, the analysis overcounted private school enrollment pre-pandemic, which affected calculations in this report. This corrected version reflects both changes and brings the total number of The Missed to 0.6 million. The total number of The Overlooked is 10.8 million.

More from this topic

Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.