Ep. 347: Monthly Tracker – October 2022

November 8, 2022

In this episode of EdChoice Chats, members of the research team break down some findings they found most interesting from our general population poll fielded from October 7 – October 9th, 2022.

Mike McShane: Hello and welcome back to another edition of EdChoice Chats. This is Mike McShane, Director of National Research at EdChoice, and you’re joining us for our monthly installment of our Tracker podcast. For those of you who may not know, each month we partner with the polling firm, Morning Consult, poll a nationally representative sample of Americans, and we over sample parents. Get a nice good look at what American parents think about the education system. The poll that we’re talking about today was in the field from October 7th to October 9th, 2022. I’m joined as usual by my colleagues Colyn Ritter and John Kristof.

And for those of you who’ve been listening, we revamped the podcast a couple of months ago, where rather than kind of going through the polling resources that we put out, which you can always go and see on our website, EdChoice.morningconsultintelligence.com, which I highly recommend all of you check out EdChoice.morning consultintelligence.com. We’ve decided to organize these things thematically around some questions that stand out to us. So this is just kind of like a movie trailer version of all of the great stuff that shows up in our polling. Just a couple hits that we hope will entice you to read about the rest of them.

So the first category that I’m going to throw to you, Colyn Ritter and John Kristof, we call the Cleopatra’s Pizza Hut most surprising number of the month. I’m going to stop explaining this joke in like a month or two, but for those who may be listening, the sort of crux of this is a lot of people are surprised to know that Cleopatra lived closer in time to the building of the first Pizza Hut than the building of the pyramids. So surprising fact.

So these are numbers that stood out to us as surprising in this month’s polling. But I actually, I’m thinking I may have to rename this category based on a historical fact that I just found out about this week. So I want to throw this out as a question to my colleagues here, the actress Julia Roberts. I know you two are much younger than me, but you, I assume, are both familiar with the actress Julia Roberts.

John Kristof: Of course.

Mike McShane: When she was born, her parents could not afford the hospital bill and a famous couple paid the bill for her family. Do either of you know the identities of the famous couple that paid for Julia Roberts’s hospital bill from her birth?

John Kristof: And this is a deep cut in American pop culture, I don’t know.

Mike McShane: So here’s what I’ll do. I’ll give you a hint, I’ll give you a couple hints.

John Kristof: Please.

Mike McShane: She was born in 1967.

John Kristof: Okay.

Mike McShane: In Smyrna, Georgia.

John Kristof: Smyrna, Georgia, oh my goodness.

Mike McShane: 1960s Georgia famous couple. And I’ll say, in the famous couple, they are both famous, you will know both of their names, but the man in the couple is more famous than the woman.

John Kristof: Geez. Trying to think of who I know from Georgia. Because my brain was about to do something really dumb at first, because I thought Julia Roberts was a little older than that. I’m sorry. And so I was going to say something crazy like the Kennedy’s, there was just something really bizarre, out of left field like that.

Mike McShane: Kennedy’s is a great guess.

John Kristof: But Georgia 10 years later, I don’t know.

Mike McShane: Kennedy’s is a good guess. So yeah, I can tell you it wasn’t a member of the Kennedy family. Colyn Ritter, do you have a guess?

Colyn Ritter: This is how my brain works. So I associate Julia Roberts with, granted I’m a little bit younger, like Julia Roberts to me is the Ocean’s girl from the movies. So I was thinking people to associate her with, I was thinking like George Clooney and I quickly googled his age. He was born 61, so that doesn’t really make any sense.

Mike McShane: Is not 60 years old.

Colyn Ritter: I have truly no idea. This is a very good, I don’t know any famous Georgians.

Mike McShane: The answer is Dr. Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King.

John Kristof: Oh my goodness.

Mike McShane: Can you believe that?

John Kristof: Oh, okay, that was…

Mike McShane: Isn’t that crazy?

John Kristof: That’s pretty crazy.

Colyn Ritter: I know why. They just knew she was going to be a star.

Mike McShane: So the story is, and I saw that Julia Roberts was being interviewed by Gail King and this is where the story comes up. And supposedly the way the story goes is that Julia Roberts’ family operated a stage school in Georgia, where they trained young actors and actresses, that the King children attended and Julia Roberts parents and the Kings became friends with one another. And that’s how the story was connected to them.

John Kristof: I’m a little upset that I didn’t get in the same ballpark of who do I know from Georgia.

Mike McShane: I’ll tell you, I’ve gotten a few guesses before, people that I’ve said before, people were like, “Was it Jimmy Carter?”, “Was it other people”? But the Kennedy’s wasn’t a bad guess, but anyway, okay. We’ve gone a long way around the block for this, so we’ll actually get to our fantastic polling information.

John Kristof: Cleopatra paid for the bill?

Mike McShane: Yeah, Cleopatra paid for the bill for all of that. So I guess my question, John Kristof, what the heck, I’ll throw it to you first. What was your number in this month’s polling that stood out the most to you?

John Kristof: Okay, so I’m going to try to break this one down as simply as I can, because sometimes some numbers are easier to describe than others. But the most surprising number to me, and this is very important to anybody in the school choice world for, against, wherever you sit in the pipeline of it. We asked a question about whether people are aware of any of four major school choice policies in their state. So we ask about charter schools, school vouchers, ESAs, and then open enrollment, both inter and intra district. We don’t really specify, but open enrollment. And boy, there are a lot of people who are really bad at guessing or understanding what school choice policies are available in their state, and not necessarily in the ways that you would expect.

So I’ll start with maybe the most understandable, at least to me, charter schools. 64% of people were able to correctly identify whether their state had a charter school law, and most states do, so maybe that’s a little easier. And then there were some people who thought that their state didn’t have a charter school law and they were incorrect about that. 20% of people incorrectly said their state did not have a charter school law. Kind of understandable if you’re in an area that doesn’t have charter schools. Charter schools often are fairly geographically concentrated, so maybe that’s just not on your radar. Understandable.

And then we start to get to some crazier thing, I should say open enrollment, I would say similar kinds of interpretations there, maybe. When you get to ESAs and school vouchers, private school choice, there are a lot of people, maybe three out of 10 people think that their state has school vouchers or ESAs when they actually do not. And I have so many follow up questions to that, I just want to reiterate, because this is the most surprising number to me, if about three out of 10 people think that their state has ESAs or charter schools when they actually do not. And I just have so many follow up questions to that as where they’re getting the information from and if they fully understand what we’re asking about, I just wonder what kinds of things are they seeing in the news, what kinds of things that they’re seeing in their local education environment that would suggest to them that their state would have a policy when they actually don’t. Because it’s a pretty big deal as a state, to implement private school choice right now. It’s a big deal if you have it.

And I should also mention too that there are about 8% of people, of all the respondents, say that their state did not have an ESA when they actually do. And 11% of people said that there is not a school voucher program in their state when there actually is. So taking all these numbers together, there’s definitely a lot of room for education and informing the general public about private school choice in their state what they do or don’t have.

I just really wonder, and I haven’t come to a solid conclusion about this, it’s just something that I hope can start a conversation. What does it mean for us when so many people think that there is private school choice in their state and it doesn’t. How does that inform how we talk about needs that a state has, or needs that parents have, if a sizable portion of the voting public don’t really understand what choice looks like in their state right now? So that’s definitely the most surprising to me, it’s something that I’ve been sitting on and don’t know what to do with quite yet, but I feel like it’s a pretty big number for us and other people in the school choice movement.

Mike McShane: Colyn Ritter, what was your number for this month?

Colyn Ritter: Yeah, I’m glad, John, you talked about that one, because that one definitely stuck out to me. I had that one, actually, as the most predictable number, simply because there’s a ton of support and people aren’t as educated as potentially they could be when it comes to this. And it’s huge, and awareness is half the battle. But my Cleopatra’s number, which could be now named the Julia Roberts number, we asked another new question and we’ve asked parents, how do you feel your child is progressing on the following in each school year. And we asked them about academic learning, emotional development and social development. So three different areas there. And then we also asked this month, for the first time, based on what you observed, how do you feel your friends’ children are progressing on the following each year in each of those three areas. So that was just a nice little wrinkle.

And similar to John Kristof, I also have a lot of follow up questions because I don’t really know what to do or how to go forward with this. So long story short, parents on their own when asked about their own children, about half of them think that their child is progressing very well in those three areas. Academic learning, emotional development and social development. When asked about their friends’ children, 39% say they’re progressing very well academically. Only a third of parents say that their friends’ children are progressing well emotionally. And then only four in 10 parents say they’re progressing very well socially.

Again, I don’t really know, it’s an interesting question because it makes me think about what parents have answered in other questions in this survey. So parents, and this is a little bit getting more into the actual meat of it, when it comes to what parents think about K-12 education, but parents, basically this month, they progressed in terms of saying that they believe K-12 education is going the right direction. And then also about half of parents think that their child’s school is doing very well at addressing mental health, guns, bullying, violent behavior, so things that you can track with a school and how they’re helping their children in areas like that.

But asking about their friends’, children, parents are much more skeptical. I’m very curious, I’d like to see more data on this and hopefully we’ll keep asking this question, we’ll be able to track it over a couple months, but it’s pretty interesting. I’m curious what you guys have to think about this number, but it seems like parents are pretty optimistic or at least feeling okay about their own children and then that drops off a bit when asked about their friend’s children. So I thought that was an interesting question.

John Kristof: Can I just add something to that, because I did think that was a very interesting number as well, so I’m glad that you brought it up. I think it’s really interesting to compare that number to what we saw last month, we asked a bit of a different question last month, it’s just kind of a one off because the new NAEP scores came out. We saw evidence of dramatic learning loss and we asked parents, we randomized where their parents would see the information about the learning loss before answering the question about their own kid. And it made essentially zero difference as to how parents answered for their own kids.

So evidence about national trends, which obviously is other people’s kids, don’t seem to influence how parents look at their own kid. When they’re asked specifically about other people’s kids, then they are indeed more pessimistic. I do think that that’s interesting because I think that’s really solid evidence that parents opinions of their own kids are just very independent of how they perceive other children.

Colyn Ritter: Yeah, that’s another good point that actually brought a thought into my mind. Do you think that parents have skepticism towards what’s happening in K-12 education and they don’t want to be about their own child? So when we ask them, a potential outlet to express some pessimism, maybe they can broadly categorize it under their children’s friends. I don’t know. I think that’s a weird, because parents are usually pretty optimistic, at least compared to the general public about K-12 education as a whole, their children, like you said with the NAEP scores and everything. I wonder. This was a good question. I’m curious to see what we get from it.

Mike McShane: Well, actually my number was going to be the same as John’s, so we’ll move on to our next category, which is the, and Colyn Ritter, I think, gave us a preview of his, the death and taxes most predictable number. So again, this is one of those things that is as predictable as death and taxes, that we think we see the same numbers. I’ll go and start with mine. Mine is the proportion of parents who say that they are very satisfied with their children in private school. For at least a year now, it’s been pretty level at around two thirds of private school parents are very satisfied. The ranking has generally been, I mean we can pretty much set our watch to, in a sort of rank ordering of the percentages of parents that are most satisfied, private school parents, homeschool parents, charter school parents, district school parents. There’s a little bit of fluctuation here and there.

I think the lowest we’ve ever seen private school, very satisfied versus the sort of highest you can give is like 53%, which was in February of 2020, and the height of the first wave of the pandemic. So even if you throw that one out there, it generally hasn’t dipped below the high fifties to mid to high sixties. Pretty much just where we are in all of that, I think you can set your watch to it. I don’t think it should necessarily surprise us. People actively choose to send their kids to private schools, so if they’re not very satisfied, should probably send them somewhere else, and do. So that’s my death and taxes most predictable number. Colyn Ritter, you kind of gave yours, I don’t know if there’s something you want to sort of add to what you said earlier?

Colyn Ritter: Yeah, quickly audibled, because John Kristof touched on what I was going to talk about, but we asked another new school choice question. We also asked it in our 2022 Schooling in America, which is online now. It’s a little shameless plug, there is also the print versions coming out soon. So it made me think, but we asked for the first time in this poll, we asked whether or not parents and adults as a whole would be in favor of a system of student based education funding that distributes public funds to all families based on student background to use at the educational setting of their choice.

Essentially saying do you want the funds to follow the student, and the majority of parents, three in four said yes. 60% of adults said yes. The two main demographic groups that supported the most at 77% were special education parents and private school parents. District school parents also 72%, so that’s the nice number there as well.

So I mean there’s overwhelming support, and if people are wondering what the alternative of that would be, because it does seem relatively common sense, I would say we contrasted this with a hypothetical and current dominant form of education funding, where some funds are based on students and some funds are based on various non-student factors like perceived resource or staffing needs. So not surprising, parents want K-12 funding to follow the student and you can do that through school choice. That’s kind of why we’re here.

Mike McShane: For sure. John Kristof, your not surprising number.

John Kristof: So a new question that we asked this month was about what parents need from school leaders and from teachers. Really straightforward question, which of the following we had, I believe 12 different possible responses, which of the following do you need most from your child’s teachers and then your child’s school’s leadership? And to me, the top two and the bottom two were pretty straightforward and something that I would expect.

A clear winner and runner up as far as the most valuable traits for both teachers and school leadership from parents is communication and support. And that makes a ton of sense based on what I have seen parents advocate for and heard from teachers that works when they’re talking to parents to be on the same page with parents as they’re trying to educate kids. Parents just need schools to communicate with them to understand what’s going on. So they want to know what their child is like and how they’re doing when they don’t see them at home, they want to know what’s going on in the school, how teachers view their kids, all these kinds of different things. And support, they want their school to be able to provide help and resources what they as the parent can’t provide at home, or can’t provide as much of as they want because they’re sending our child to school to receive the kind of education and help that they need to grow and develop. Makes perfect sense.

And then the bottom two were friendliness and recognition. So it’s a less important to parents to become best friends with their child’s teacher, or to be recognized for the work that they’re doing at home. I think a lot of parents recognize that teachers are doing a job that is helping their child succeed. And if a teacher does their job well, takes their job seriously, likes their kid, helps their kid succeed, that’s what really all parents want from schools.

I think this is important to keep in mind because in the education world, I think a lot of things and just politics in general, a lot of things can be sensationalized, but ultimately what parents want is to feel like their school and their teacher is on the same side as them. And if a parent doesn’t feel that, I think that’s a big part of where dissatisfaction with their child’s school can start. Not always, but it’s definitely a trend.

So these are just numbers that match with stories that I’ve been hearing over the last handful of years about parents’ relationship with schools and school’s relationships with parents, and something everyone should keep in mind when we’re talking about conflict and satisfaction and all those different things in education.

Mike McShane: Fantastic. So our next category is the Frankenstein’s monster against the grain number. Again, it is an against the grain idea to remember that Frankenstein is not the name of the monster in the book, Frankenstein is the creator of the monster, and monster is unnamed. So just like the uphill battle that I make in trying to explain that to people, we find an uphill battle in telling people the truth about what people actually think, even if that might go against the grain of contemporary media or what people are talking about.

I’m actually going to repeat my against the grain number from last month, with a bit of a twist. So last month we started asking a question about parents’ perceptions of the politics of their child’s school. We’ve obviously been hearing in a lot of time in the lead up to the midterm elections, which I think we’re recording this before the midterm elections, I think it’s going to come out after the midterm elections. So hey future us. I don’t know what happened, but definitely a theme that has come up in a lot of these discussions has been, are schools being politicized? And I think it’s something that we’re seeing people on both sides of the aisle talking about. People accusing conservative people of doing it, accusing progressive people of doing it.

So we’ve decided to ask this question, to what extent do you feel that your child’s school is political? And I think against the grain number is that 54% of parents say that it’s not political. Another 13% say that they don’t know or they have no opinion. And of those who say it’s political, it’s pretty evenly split, sort of democrat, independent, Republican. And it was sort of in line with the questions that we asked last month where we say, well do you think it’s too political? There’s only a third of parents think that their kids’ school is too political. And it was basically evenly split between the percentage that think that it’s too liberal or too conservative.

So that’s, I think, an against the grain number, that most people don’t think that their kids’ school even has a political viewpoint. Now again, we have a debate or discussion of whether they’re right or they’re wrong, whether they should be more on the lookout for that, but that’s at least what their perception is.

And the twist that I want to put on it was another poll came out just in the last couple of weeks from our friends over at Pew, and they asked a whole battery of questions about parent perceptions of schools. But they asked a question, it’s not the exact same question, but I think it’s always good when sort of what we find, I think, roughly aligns with what other people find. But they ask just, do parents think that schools share their values? And one of the things that they found that I thought was interesting was that their numbers match ours very closely. Again, the question’s slightly different, but they found in public schools, only 15% of parents say that they think that their school’s values are very different than theirs. About 50% said that they are very or somewhat similar. And then about 35% said they’re neither similar nor different. Now that’s in traditional public schools, which again, I think that sort of number, we think that a lot of people feel this way, only 15% think that public schools values are super different from them.

Now it is worth saying that when they ask private school parents, while 50% of public school parents say that values are very or somewhat similar to theirs, in private school it’s 78%. So two things can be true at the same time. One is that I think people’s values of public schools aren’t necessarily that different, but that private schools do a better job of that. So I don’t think the problem is necessarily as dire as some people might say, but it is also true that, and it shouldn’t surprise us, when people get to choose their kids’ schools, they’re more likely to choose a school whose values align with theirs. So again, that’s my sort of against the grain number. But John Kristof, what’s yours?

John Kristof: That’s a lot of good stuff. I chose the same general topic. I’m just taking a bit of an additional spin to what which you just articulated, and that’s that there’s not necessarily the same kinds of political trends in people’s approach to this question as maybe I would expect, and I imagine a lot of other people would expect, based on how news coverage around these kinds of topics have been. I don’t think it will be too controversial to say, and I don’t have a strong horse in this. I don’t think it’s too controversial to say that a lot of the framing about the questions of the politicization of schools is maybe concern from people who maybe identify more on the right about schools that they feel like are influenced by things that people on the left would like.

And we don’t really hear stories of the other way around. We don’t hear stories about people who maybe identify as a more left-leaning concerned about their child’s school being political or not political, just doesn’t receive the same kinds of news coverage. So if that was reflective of reality, we might see in this question that Mike McShane just talked about, do you feel like your child’s school is political, we might expect people who self-identify as Republicans to say, yes, my child’s school is political more often than Democrats or Independents, or at least that’s what I would predict based on what I see coming across my inbox on a weekly basis. And that’s just not the case. There’s essentially no difference between how you identify politically and how political you feel your child’s school is. So among all the people who said yes, I think my child’s school does have political stances, 37% of them were Democrats, 36% of them were Republicans and then the 28% were political independents. That’s a pretty even spread.

Just maybe another case that the stories that we read, while they may reflect a lot of people’s experiences, that’s maybe not necessarily the overwhelming experience of everybody dealing with the education system and maybe there’s a lot of untold stories there from people on the left. And I guess I should mention too, based on how I’m talking about it, we don’t make an assumption in this question as to whether it’s good that a child’s school is political or not. Some people maybe like that, some people maybe don’t, just based on how the question is asked, we don’t get into it. But I think the results that we see here broken down by self-identified political party just reminds us that there’s a lot of untold stories going on in addition to the stories that get focused on in the news on a regular basis. At least in the current political news cycle.

Mike McShane: For sure. Colyn Ritter, what’s your against the grain number?

Colyn Ritter: I’m sticking with the funding. One of the big themes that I’ve learned and what I think we’ve talked about in this podcast a lot is that parents, probably their opinion holds a little bit more weight when we talk about pretty in depth questions about education, for example, funding, how children are progressing in schools. So I’m going to stick with the funding question and this is constantly contradicting the theme that I just talked about, but we ask how much do you think is spent per year on each student in your state’s public schools? We’ve been asking this question forever, and consistently parents, regardless of whether it’s an elementary school parent or a parent of a high schooler, or Americans as a whole, usually parents can’t get past, we ask them to guess to the nearest thousand. So we constantly see $5,000, $4,000. Even a couple months ago we saw somewhere low as $2,000. When people within the education world know that funding has skyrocketed, it’s at a very high level, especially after COVID.

But non-parents this month guessed $10,000, and that, of course, is much closer. It’s not only double the school parents guess, but it’s also much closer to the actual average over every state. The average is roughly $13,000. So $10,000 is a great guess. One day I think we’ll see like a 15,000 or a 20,000 and those guesses will be right and maybe one day school parents will also guess closer. But yeah, this is a constant against the grain number. Parents are unwilling to guess high levels of funding. I don’t know why.

Mike McShane: A guy can dream, Colyn Ritter, it’s good to have dreams.

Colyn Ritter: Yeah.

Mike McShane: Dreams are what make life worth living. That guy in Rudy.

Colyn Ritter: It could be a lame dream.

Mike McShane: Yeah, yeah. Okay. So for our last one, I’m like listen, there’s not a gosh darn thing wrong with having dreams, and that’s as good one to have as any. So our last category is, we call the 1.21 gigawatts number, obviously a Back to the Future reference. So a number that will matter in the future, I will take the host prerogative and share mine. We have been asking a question for months now about tutoring. Are parents looking for tutoring for their children, do they have a tutor right now, are they trying to find one? And with recent releases of NAEP scores and others that have shown just the sort of severity and the widespread learning losses that took place during the coronavirus, I think one of these things that’s really going to matter in the future is the months, and potentially years, of learning loss that took place over the course of the last couple years.

So the number to me that will matter in the future is we ask this question, is your child getting tutoring outside of regular school hours this school year? And 57% of parents said, no, my child does not need tutoring at this time. And I can say, they may be right, but it is also possible that that is overly optimistic. And that whether it’s because their schools are telling them that everything is okay, or there hasn’t been enough objective data or for whatever reason, I think that if it remains the case that the majority of American school children do not have some kind of catch up, if they’ve lost a couple months to a year of learning and nothing is done to try and catch that up, that’s going to have knock on effects for a very, very long time.

So I hope that schools are going to start to be a bit more honest maybe with some of these national numbers that have come out, that have sort of painted the picture researchers are showing this, that schools are going to be a bit more honest and might pass that message on home saying, hey, look, we’re kind of behind where we need to be and we need to step our game up. But I mean even this, we look like only 16% of parents said that their children are currently being tutored. Another 13% say that they’re looking and some say they will be looking for soon. So about 43% we kind of put it as, is being tutored, is looking for a tutor.

But when you actually look at, only 16% of kids are being tutored right now. I feel confident in saying that more than 16% of American kids need to be tutored right now. I feel like I can say that. Maybe it’s not like 57% or whatever the number is, but I’m pretty confident more than 16% need tutoring right now. And if kids aren’t getting that, that’s going to be a problem. But Colyn Ritter, what was your number that will matter in the future?

Colyn Ritter: Yeah, let’s stick with that theme. You said tutoring. I know we’re all big learning pod guys here, but I think the future of schooling, especially when parents see what Mike McShane’s talking about with the learning loss suffered over the pandemic and everything, I think parents are really looking for alternative ways of learning, potentially more effective or just more effective for their own children. And I think anytime anyone asks me that, I always say I think learning pods are going to grow like crazy. Maybe not as immediate as we’d like, but we do see popularity growing.

For example, in May of 2022 learning pod interest, we ask parents, are they currently participating or are they looking to form or join a learning pod. And that interest dipped to 27%, the lowest that we have tracked it since we’ve been asking it for over two years now. That was the lowest level we observed.

Since then, it has jumped 10 points, now we’re in October, to 37%. So over a third of families are either currently participating or looking to join or form one. I think that’s great. And the demographic splits are also very interesting. Special education parents, who are typically one of the groups more open to learning pods, they jump 10% in October. Rural families, 20%, a huge jump versus September, more than a third of rural families are looking to form or are already participating. Low income families also jumped high.

And then also we saw some groups that we aren’t really used to seeing, families from the northeast, people that are independent in terms of their political party. It was good to see, as a self-proclaimed learning pod guy, I think that is going to be big in the future and it’s growing over the last two months it’s grown six points, over the last five months it’s grown 10 points. So this is good news.

Mike McShane: Awesome. John Kristof, what’s yours?

John Kristof: All right. Well now that both my plan A and plan B have been mentioned here, I’m just going to piggyback off of what Colyn Ritter said. I thought it was safe because we haven’t talked about pods for a second, so I think this will be a good one. Anyway. Yeah, we haven’t talked about pods as much as we used to, but it’s certainly not because interest has completely fallen off since the last school year ended. Like a learning pod interest has been on the rise again, and it’s basically hovered between 30% and 40% since fall of 2020. So this idea, and we tell people what this idea is, there’s a small group of children organized by parents, they’ll team together, hire a private teacher to facilitate a curriculum, take turns supervising, and parents would take turns supervising maybe.

Are you doing something like this, are you interested in doing something like this. 30 to 40% of parents, for two years now, have been saying yes. And it’s stable to trending upward right now, and so I’m not a historian on this kind of thing, but it makes me think of maybe what homeschooling was some decades ago where it just was this growing thing that some parents started doing and it was kind of in the background. And eventually you look back and you’re like, oh, there’s actually millions of children doing this.

I have to wonder if this is something that learning pods will eventually become, or if there will be a similar growth pattern. Some decisions that we make, policy wise, can impact that. We love ESAs here at EdChoice for reasons that we talk about all the time. It gives opportunity and flexibility to meet child’s needs where they’re at. And a lot of parents are thinking, hey, this would work really well for my child.

And just to clarify, the profile of parents who are interested in this might not be the same profile that maybe a casual observer might expect. Three of the top five demographic groups who are interested in learning pods are special education parents, Black parents and Hispanic parents. Three groups that you can make a pretty strong case have been historically underserved by the traditional district school system, and they want additional help, they want alternatives, they want agency, whatever it is. This is an idea that sounds interesting to them and they feel like can serve the best interest of their child. Something like an ESA can help parents make this happen, regardless of their income level. Even low income parents who are interested in this say that they’d be willing to put down hundreds of dollars a month to make this kind of thing happen for their kid. So the interest is there, it’s just a matter of facilitating it to make it happen from an education entrepreneurship perspective and from a policy perspective.

Mike McShane: All right. Well listen, thanks fellas. I appreciate the conversation as always, and a big shout out to Jacob Vinson, as always, thank you so much for editing all this, putting it together.

Check out our website edchoice.org for all of our fantastic content. Specifically if you’re looking for the polling stuff, edchoice.morningconsultintelligence.com, and I look forward to chatting with all of you again on another edition of EdChoice Chats. Take care.