How Parents Experience Public School Choice
December 4, 2014
Parents are actively taking advantage of the opportunity to choose among public and public charter schools, but more needs to be done to improve options and help parents find the best schools for their children, according to a new report released by the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) at the University of Washington Bothell. The report surveyed 4,000 parents in eight ‘high-choice’ cities, including Washington, D.C.
Parent optimism and ease of navigating school choice vary widely among the eight cities. While some cities are improving parents’ ability to choose with confidence, each city has room for improvement to ensure that every parent can find the right school for their child.
Key findings include:
When parents get the opportunity to choose, they take advantage of it, though many wish there were better options. Nearly two-thirds of parents reported choosing a non-neighborhood-based school. When asked whether they had other good options beyond their current school, 65 percent of parents reported having good public school options available to them.
African American and Hispanic parents are less optimistic optimism about whether schools are improving compared to white parents. More than half of all parents reported that the District’s schools are getting better.
Some parents are forced to make difficult trade-offs between academics, safety, and location. Eighty percent of parents in Washington, DC report prioritizing academics over safety and school location.
Parents with less education, minority parents, and parents of children with special needs are 20 percent more likely to report having difficulty navigating choice. Parents with a high school diploma or less were significantly less likely than parents with a bachelor’s degree or more to report choosing on the basis of academic quality and more likely to cite safety and location as salient concerns.