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There are a lot of reasons that parents choose the schools that they do for their children. For some parents, it is a clear decision, for some, it is a decision which is agonized over. The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice recently released a study on the factors that go into these decisions, and the answers might surprise you.
The study, “More than Scores: An Analysis of Why and How Parents Choose Private Schools,” identified the top reasons that school choice parents choose private schools for their child. Some may believe that parents are looking for the best test scores, but that didn’t even crack the top five reasons. Instead, the top response was “better student discipline” (50.9%), barely coming out ahead of “better learning environment” (50.8%). These seem to go hand in hand. After all, a school that runs a tighter ship is likely to be a better learning environment, without the distractions of students needing disciplinary actions. The third most popular response, “smaller class sizes” (48.9%) goes hand in hand with the fifth response “more individual attention for my child” (39.3%). At large public schools, kids can and often feel lost in the shuffle, and parents feel that the teachers don’t know their kids. Of course, this level of personalized attention also supports better student discipline and a better learning environment. Coming in at number 4 was “improved student safety” (46.8%).
Benjamin Scafidi, co-author of the report, said “These results should dissuade lawmakers from forcing standardized tests on private schools, including those with school choice students. Parents want to evaluate schools based on their children’s needs, not the government’s.” Unfortunately, as Common Core is pushed into schools around the country, this is not what’s happening. Teachers will begin aligning their curriculum to “teach to the test.” This will further standardize education, leaving little accommodation for differences in the way that children learn. In this atmosphere, it is increasingly important that we support school choice to ensure that children have the right education for them.