Leaders take heed: Demand for school choice is surging, survey shows

More than two-thirds of parents surveyed considered new schools for their children last year, compared to 52% in 2022.

Some districts have embraced school choice and some see it as an existential threat. Either way, parents’ interest in switching schools is growing substantially, according to a new National School Choice Awareness Foundation survey.

With some 20 states expanding school choice in 2023, here are a few numbers that should grab the attention of superintendents and their teams:

  • 72% of parents considered new schools for their children last year compared to 52% in 2022
  • 64% of parents wanted more information about education options for their children
  • Only 29% said the same type of school type works for all of their children

“Since the pandemic, parents have shifted their preference away from finding specific types of school and instead focused on selecting schools that—regardless of their structure or how they are funded—best fit their children’s needs,” Andrew Campanella, the Foundation’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “Parents today have more choices for their children’s education today than at any other time in history.”

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The good news for leaders of public districts is that traditional schools remain popular with families who are considering making a change. More than half of the parents searching for educational alternatives said that they had “visited, inquired about, or researched” local public schools, according to the survey, which was conducted Jan. 2-4.

When it comes to politics, school choice also crosses party lines. Parents who identified as Democrats switched schools more frequently than Republicans, at a rate of 56% to 40%. There has also been a spike in interest among the fathers surveyed, with 67% of dads saying they searched for a new child for at least one child, compared to 54% on the 2023 survey.

Finally, a majority of the parents surveyed reported having more education options in 2024 and sending their children to different types of schools than the ones they attended.

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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