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Millennials Are the School Choice Generation, New Survey Says

Tuesday, October 11, 2016 12:33
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(Before It's News)

||| Syda Productions / DreamstimeGood news for supporters of school choice: millennials are just as likely as older generations to say that kids and parents should have more options when it comes to education.

For some aspects of school choice, such as voucher programs and education savings accounts, favorability rates are arguably strongest among millennials (albeit with some caveats that I’ll get to in a minute).

That’s according to a survey released by EdChoice (formerly the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice), a public policy organization that supports school choice.

Overall, 63 percent of millennial respondents were in favor of charter schools, and just 19 percent were opposed. The national average was 59 percent and 23 percent. This means that millennials were actually slightly more pro-charter than the average, though the difference is within the survey’s margin of error.

That should be reason enough for school choice reformers to cheer, though some caution is still warranted: millennials held initially hostile views toward vouchers—just 33 percent supported them. But the survey asked the question twice: after it explained what vouchers were, support for them rose to 61 percent.

Indeed, lack of information about education policies might be the biggest obstacle to making millennials even more supportive of reform. Two out three millennial respondents said the country wasn’t spending enough money on education. But according to the poll results, they badly underestimated how much money schools receive from the government. After being given the correct per-pupil funding numbers, some millennial respondents changed their minds. The percentage of respondents who thought per-pupil spending was too low dropped from 55 percent to 37 percent, and increasing percentages of respondents answered that current funding was “too high,” “about right,” or “didn’t know.”

Obvious disclaimer: This poll was produced by an organization that lobbies in favor of the thing it’s measuring here, so its findings should be taken with a grain of salt.

That said, I’m not at all surprised to learn that millennials are just as excited about school choice as older generations—if not more excited. They’re against arbitrary borders (zip codes, in this case), deeply concerned about structural racism in public institutions (like police departments and traditional public schools), and motivated by principles of fairness and equal opportunity. School choice delivers on all these fronts.

To see some of the survey’s highlights, go here.

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