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  • Jun 28 2016

Indiana Parent Survey finds Hoosier private school and school choice parents overwhelmingly satisfied with nation’s largest voucher program

Parents report increased community and school engagement, say choice program is easy to use

INDIANAPOLIS — The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice today released Why Parents Choose, a survey of more than 2,000 Indiana private school and school choice parents on Tuesday. Indiana is home to the largest voucher program in the United States.

Read the report and the survey questionnaires: www.edchoice.org/WhyParentsChoose

The survey found that a large majority of choice parents are satisfied with their new schools and were easily able to find a suitable private school that participates in the state’s voucher or tax-credit scholarship program. Additionally, parents reported becoming more engaged in their schools and communities after they chose a private school.

Why Parents Choose is a more detailed follow-up to the Friedman Foundation’s 2014 publication, Why Indiana Voucher Parents Choose Private Schools.

“Not only do we have a current snapshot of parent satisfaction with Indiana’s school choice program, but we are able to track parents who responded three years ago to find out what choices they’ve continued to make and gauge their satisfaction over time,” said Friedman Foundation president and CEO Robert C. Enlow.

“The results are clear: Indiana parents — the people who actually navigate the system and make choices for their families — are overwhelmingly satisfied with the state’s programs, and they find them easy to use. That’s particularly important because critics often allege that parents won’t be able to figure out how to choose. We know that’s not true, and we know that once they choose, they become more engaged in their schools and their communities.”

LISTEN TO FRIEDMAN FOUNDATION CEO ROBERT ENLOW DISCUSS THE REPORT

KEY FINDINGS

1. The majority of choice parents said it was easy to find the right private schools for their kids, and they chose those schools for a variety of reasons.
Seventy-two percent of parents reported that finding a suitable private school that participates in the voucher or tax-credit scholarship programs was very easy, and 11 percent said it was somewhat easy. Furthermore, survey participants were asked to choose the most important quality that led them to choose their current private school. The most common responses were religious environment and instruction and a better academic environment. Parents also highly value a school’s morals, values and character instruction, and many took smaller class sizes, safer environment and more individual instruction into account.

2. The data debunks claims that voucher parents would have chosen private schools even without vouchers.
Of the parents who responded to both the 2013 and 2016 surveys, 16 percent no longer have children in private school choice programs. Though Indiana’s private school choice programs have a high retention rate (84 percent), more than half of the students who did decide to leave those programs chose public school options, including neighborhood public schools and public charter schools. Less than half persisted in private schools without the programs. This contradicts the Indiana Department of Education’s assertion that voucher students would have enrolled in private schools regardless of the program—the implication being vouchers are just helping would-be private schoolers subsidize private tuition. In reality, these and other data support that Indiana school choice programs are facilitating parent choices across sectors.

3. Parents report more community and school engagement at their current private schools.
The majority of private school parents are more involved in variety of activities since enrolling their children in their current school compared to their previous school: communicating with teachers (69 percent), participating in school activities (67 percent), volunteering/community service (61 percent), and working on math or arithmetic with their child (56 percent). Voucher parents were significantly more likely to say they now participate more in volunteering and community service activities compared to tax-credit scholarship parents.

4. School choice parents are overwhelmingly satisfied with their children’s schools.
School choice parents are overwhelmingly satisfied with their children’s current private schools. Though only 53 percent of parents were somewhat or very satisfied with their previous schools, 81 percent are very satisfied and 12 percent are somewhat satisfied with their current choice schools. These findings indicate Indiana’s school choice programs accomplish the goal of better matching students with schools that fit their needs.

ABOUT THE FRIEDMAN FOUNDATION

For 20 years, the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice has been a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and nonpartisan organization dedicated to advancing Milton and Rose Friedman’s vision of school choice for all children. The Foundation is a trusted voice promoting school choice as the most effective and equitable way to improve the quality of K–12 education in America. The Friedman Foundation is dedicated to research, education and outreach on the vital issues and implications related to school choice. On July 29, in accordance with the wishes of Milton and Rose Friedman, the Foundation will change its name to reflect the future of the organization while maintaining the Friedmans’ intellectual legacy of educational choice.

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