Ep. 359: Monthly Tracker – February 2023

February 23, 2023

The February monthly tracker is here featuring our own research team discussing numbers from the most recent polling of American school parents. Find out what is the “Cleopatra’s Pizza Hut” most surprising number for each Mike McShane, Colyn Ritter, and John Kristof.

Mike McShane: Hello and welcome back to another edition of EdChoice Chats. This is Mike McShane, director of National Research at EdChoice, and you have happened upon our monthly Tracker podcast. For those of you unfamiliar, every month in partnership with Morning Consult, we poll a nationally representative sample of Americans. We oversample school parents to get a lovely representative sample of what American school parents think about their children’s schools and we publish it. You can check out the full report in all of its glory, which we cannot do justice to. I noticed the PowerPoint presentation that Morning Consult made for us is 72 slides long and the cross tabs, which we’ll talk about where you can look at individual demographic groups on the various questions, I believe it is 586 pages long. 

So, settle in folks. You’re in for a 44-hour podcast, so I hope you got a long place to drive. No, we’re going to just do the quick version of this where we’re going to talk about some of the numbers that stood out to us, look at some trends and questions and things that we’re thinking about in the future. Hopefully directing all of you to edchoice.morningconsultintelligence.com where you can get the full presentation, all of the cross tabs, and even now increasingly breaking down answers by state. So you can look at what people in your state think about education, but also look at these big national numbers. 

So, this poll was in the field from January 69, 2023. The overall sample size was 2200 members of the general population, of which 1060 were school parents. And so Colyn, I’ll maybe start with our first question. One of the ones we love to talk about is the Cleopatra’s Pizza Hut most surprising number. So in those 72 slides and 586 pages of cross tabs, what was the number that stood out most to you?  

Colyn Ritter: Thanks, Mike. Yeah, I’m going to go with one I’m not sure we’ve talked about a ton on this podcast, but we asked parents how they feel their child is progressing on the following and we asked them in three different areas. We asked them about academic learning, social development, as well as emotional development. And one thing that I’ve observed over the life of this question is that roughly half of parents feel that their child is progressing very well. So that doesn’t include they feel their child’s progressing well or even in a neutral sense. So this is roughly half of parents feel that their child is doing above average, very well when it comes to these three areas. 

But lately we’ve also been asking how you feel your friends’ children are progressing, which I think is an interesting wrinkle. And one trend that I’ve seen is that parents, probably predictably, feel better about their own child’s progression compared to their friends’ children’s progression. Roughly a third of parents have responded that they believe their friends’ children’s are progressing very well. So that’s in contrast with roughly half of parents who believe their own child is doing well. But this month was interesting in the sense that the gap really shrank between parents believing their own child is progressing very well and their friends’ children progressing very well. 

For example, academic learning, it’s now a three percent point difference now. So roughly half, 50 percent of parents believe their own child is progressing very well and 47 percent believe their friend’s child is progressing very well, and that’s a seven-point increase for their friends’ children in a three-point decrease for their own children. So the gap shrank there. The gap shrank in the other two social and emotional development questions as well. So much so that in social development, parents are more likely to believe that their friends’ children are progressing very well compared to their own child and it’s 44 percent versus 43 percent. 

And then emotional development, they’re dead even at 42 percent. So we saw that parents are a little bit more pessimistic about their own child’s progression, at least in terms of it being very, very good. And then they were a bit more optimistic about their friends’ child’s progression. So I think that’s interesting. I’m not exactly sure what would lead… Sometimes these questions can be connected to others. For example, how they feel the direction of K12 education is going, how satisfied they’re with their schools, their teachers, and I’m talking parents here. 

But I’m not exactly sure what would lead to parents believing their friends’ children are doing much better than their own children. But I think that was a really interesting and surprising result and the first time we’ve seen it when we’ve posed these questions to parents. 

Mike McShane: John, what was your most surprising number of the month?  

John Kristof: Well, we’re starting off on a good note because mine was also Colyn’s, but… I’m just kidding here. 

Mike McShane: Already? That’s got to be a record, that literally the first number that we talk about is… 

John Kristof: Yeah. It was very fast. You know, it’s not unfair because it’s like, “Wait a minute, I’ve seen this graph before. Those numbers look a lot more equal than they have previously.” So, it does jump out. I will draw attention instead to another question. We have talked about this on the podcast before, in part because it’s fairly recent question that we have added, and I just want to draw attention to it in part because it’s similar to something that I’m working on right now. But we ask parents if they have switched school sectors for their children and then if so, why? And just want to draw attention to… it is something that I think is counter to a lot of discussion around switching schools and is your school serving your child? And things like that. It’s not really counter, but I’ll just cut to the chase here. 

Parents are about as equally likely to point to a mental health concern as they are to academics as a reason that they are switching school type for their child. So, 27 percent of parents who have switched the school sectors for their kids have said that their child experienced excessive stress and or anxiety and or experienced bullying at their previous school. And then 26 percent, essentially the same margin of error, said that there were academic concerns. So, in all of the conversation around school choice right now, a lot of bills are going on, articles are being written, tweets are being sent about why a school may or may not be a good fit for a child and why people might be looking for different options. 

Very few people, if any, I know that there are some, because I’m one of them. Very few people are pointing to something like a mental health concern or something that is just about the holistic, social and emotional wellbeing of the child as a reason to switch environments. And I’ll say too, sometimes this is because of what a school does. It can be poor administration or poor classroom management. Those types of things do happen. I have also seen, because I have loved ones who are teachers, I’ve also seen that there are times that enough has just happened at a school environment where it is very clear to everyone involved that just some kind of restart and some kind of switching environment is just needed and would be good for the child. And I live in a state where that can happen. And so parents do exercise that option here. That’s not the case everywhere. 

So, when you see these discussions going on online in response to bills being introduced, being passed, people are talking about the benefits and people talking about why choice might be good, academics can be some of it, maybe curriculum preferences are some of it. But there’s been a few times now where we’ve done this survey and leading the charge or maybe co-leading the charge with academics is just social and emotional distress that kids are receiving at the current school is a reason that parents switch their school type. So, you have to wonder how many other kids are experiencing excessive stress and anxiety and excessive bullying that could also drop by nearly half if they switch to a different school environment. How many kids could benefit from that and aren’t because they’re not in a state or a policy environment that enables it for someone in their family situation. 

So just another reminder of why we’re here, why people are pushing for these kinds of policies. 

Mike McShane: For sure. My number was slightly different tack than what you two took. The number that continues to surprise me, and this may have been one that I’ve used before, is the question about concern of a violent intruder like a mass shooter entering your child or children’s school. My hypothesis would be that as time passes, both away from major mass shooting events as well as just get further into the school year where these types of things happen in your child’s school, you become less worried about it. That is not what we saw in our numbers. So, it actually went up from December to January. It’s 48 percent of parents in January said that they were either extremely or very concerned, which is, it’s bounced up and down a little bit, but in all of the different groups, we break it out by K4 parents, 58 parents, 912 parents, all of them are up. 

K4 is only at one point, but 58 parents was up six points. 912 is up three points. But this is a number that’s just not changing, it’s not going down. I’m starting to think that this is just one of these numbers that we are going to see in the mid to high forties in perpetuity. I just think that that’s sort of where this number sits, which again is just sort of mind-boggling to me. 

The number’s a little weird because one of the other questions we asked was, “How well do you feel your child’s school is addressing these things, mental health, guns, bullying and violent behaviors?” And across all of those it’s right around in the 50 percent mark saying extremely or very well. So, it’s weird that we have this large number of people also saying that schools are handling this very well, like the issue of guns very well or bullying or mental health very well. Yet also many are extremely or very concerned about a violent intruder entering the school. So, it’s like a little bit of incongruity there. I mean, the math technically works out that conceivably if the circles of the Venn diagram don’t overlap with one another, but there’s still just a little bit of a funkiness in there that I don’t fully understand. But again, it’s just one of those numbers that just seems to me a baseline figure in American education that this is what this proportion of parents thinks, which is just a horrifying and sad thing to think of almost half of parents being worried about that every single day. And again, as I’ve said on here many times, I have such sympathy for educators that are trying to build a positive school climate and school community and everything with that happening in the background. 

But anyway, potentially onto a brighter note. Our next topic we like to call diving into demographics. As I mentioned, we have 586 pages of cross tabs. All of our questions cut any number of different ways into different demographic groups. So John, were there any particular demographic figures that stood out to you? 

John Kristof: Yeah, I’m pointing to you a question that is making a reappearance in our tracker. This is something that we asked pretty regularly in the first year that we did the tracker, maybe a little longer than that even. Basically asking the parents to give a rating for how their child’s teacher communicates with them. We used to ask this about the child’s teacher, administrators, and I think some other agents as well. But we asked about teachers, again, here. And a lot of people, when you ask about how well do your child’s teachers communicate with you, a lot of them say excellent or very good, a majority across all different categories, which is good to hear. 

I was curious as to whether I could find any patterns in who was at least relatively less optimistic. And the trends that I was able to see is that parents were particularly more likely to rate their child’s teacher’s communication as excellent or very good if they were parents of kids attending private school. I’m not sure if that would surprise anybody. If they are going to school in an urban area, and likewise, not going to school in a small town or particularly a rural area, that was the lowest geographic category as far as good ratings for communication. 

And one of the biggest gaps actually was whether the parent identified as LGBTQ or not. Parents who were straight were significantly more likely to stay that the child’s teacher communicated excellent or very well with them compared to those who identified as LGBTQ. So, I’m not sure if there’s something to that in these different areas. I’m sure a lot of people will have theories of all these different ways. I’m not sure if people would’ve expected the urban versus rural gap here. I hear from a lot of people from rural areas talk about their schools as the center of the community, in a lot of ways in a big community center, a major employer of the area. 

I haven’t really lived in a rural area, so I haven’t really experienced myself what that is and what that looks like. But I think because of how that’s been described to me, I think I expected maybe the personableness, if that’s a term, of a small area or a rural area to speak better of communication. But on the other hand, maybe distance matters, I’m not quite sure. But yeah, urban areas, private schools, straight parents seem to have a better communicative relationship with their kids’ parents than those who do not fall onto those categories. 

Mike McShane: Colyn, what demographic figures stood out to you? 

Colyn Ritter: Yeah. So my most interesting demographic finding from this report was stemming from the tutoring question. So we asked parents, is your child getting tutored outside of regular school hours this school year? And 43 percent of parents said they currently have a tutor or are looking for a tutor. So that is a five percent increase from December. One of the higher ends of what we’ve seen since we began asking the question in February, I think the peak of what we see, what we’ve seen in the past was around 49 percent early 2021. 

So about two years ago around this time. So we’re back up in the forties and that obviously is going to come with some big demographic bursts. One of the biggest ones and obviously one of the most notable ones, if you were to go in and look at the report is Hispanic parents. 64 percent of Hispanic parents said that they are looking for already have a tutor for their child, as a 20 percent increase from December. So two thirds of Hispanic parents are looking for a tutor, already have a tutor. A couple of other big increases from some of the least or the groups less likely to be looking for a tutor. But they experience big increases in January. Independent voters. In terms of political affiliation, 40 percent of this group are looking for a tutor, already have a tutor for the children. That is a 12 percent increase from December, as well as small town residents. 39 percent of small town residents are looking for a tutor or already have a tutor. That is a 16 percent increase. One thing to note, and I know we’re talking about increases here in tutoring, and that’s kind of the theme, but there were a couple groups that are typically pretty reliable when it comes to this question in terms of you can expect to see them towards the upper tail or even the middle closer towards the top of these groups in terms of looking for or already have a tutor for their children, private school parents, 51 percent said they are looking for or already have a tutor. That’s a six percent decrease that was interesting to see as well as homeschool parents, they had a 10 percent decrease down to 35 percent. So roughly one third of homeschooling parents are looking for a tutor or already have a tutor. And like I said, the only reason this is notable is because these are two groups that we’ve observed towards the higher end of this question in terms of who is having a tutor, who is looking for a tutor. So those are a couple interesting notes I’ve had. And next month I’ll be curious to see. But yeah, that 20 percent increase from Hispanic parents was obviously eye popping to me for sure. 

Mike McShane: So my numbers, I’m going to throw out, maybe this is a bit of a strange one. The demographic question that I’m most interested in, and I’m thinking about actually writing about this because I think I’ve seen this trend in a couple other surveys and I’m thinking pulling these numbers together. But maybe the most simple question that we ask in this poll is, do you think the American education system is on the right track or if it’s on the wrong track, or it’s heading in the right direction or if you think it’s on the wrong track? And we break it down by racial and ethnic groups. And this is strictly looking at school parents. We ask black parents this. We ask white parents this. We ask Hispanic parents this. We ask Asian parents this, or people who identify in these racial and ethnic groups. 

And one of the things that I found most interesting, whether you look at it at the national, state, or local level, black parents were most likely to say that the education system was on the right track. White parents were the least likely to say it. So if we look at the national level, 54 percent of black parents say that the education system is heading in the right direction, while only 30 percent of white parents do. Hispanic and Asian parents split the difference, they’re at 40 percent. When looking at the state level, 62 percent of black parents say that the education system is headed in the right direction, while only 40 percent of white parents do. Again, Hispanic and Asian respondents split the difference at 51 percent each. And then finally, at the local level, a whopping 67 percent of black parents, just over two thirds of black parents say that their local schools are headed in the right direction, while only 49 percent, so less than half of white parents think that. Asian parents would be the next at 51 percent, and then Hispanic parents at 61 percent. 

But I think that that’s just not a particularly well understood phenomenon. I think if we asked people ahead of time, “Hey, we’re going to give you those four numbers, or we’re going to give you those four groups of people and ask that question. Rank, order, which ones do you think will be most pessimistic and which ones would be most optimistic? Which ones would be most satisfied or least satisfied?” I don’t think people would necessarily rank them in that order. And yet that’s what we found. So again, I think that’s kind of interesting. It shows up actually in other surveys around other questions. So this may be a preview. Those of you who also read stuff that I write, you might see me exploring this in the future because I think it’s a really interesting phenomenon that’s misunderstood. 

I want to go next. We asked a couple of new questions this month that turned out some really interesting responses. We ask a question about parent communication that we’ve already kind of talked about. So, I don’t know if we necessarily need to belabor that one. But the big question that we ended up with was we asked parents about microschooling. We asked two versions of the question, the simple one is microschools are small learning environments in K12 education typically enrolling no more than 25 students. Do you have a child currently enrolled in a microschool? 

Then we do another one where we sort of describe it a little bit differently, but the upshot is the same. We found that eight percent of parents said, “Yes, my child or children is enrolled in a microschool.” It doesn’t matter how we asked the question, they both said eight percent. Without the sort of information, the simpler one, about 37 percent of parents said that they would be interested in learning more, but their child isn’t enrolled. And 55 percent said no and they’re not enrolled in microschools. 

So John, I might throw this one to you. I mean, I tweeted about this and obviously we need to have some caution with this, but when you got these numbers, maybe that’s the right question is when this showed up on your desk, and you saw eight percent of parents saying yes, what was your reaction to that? 

John Kristof: So my reaction is similar to reactions that we had when we first started asking about learning pods almost three years ago where numbers seemed especially high and we’re like, “There’s no way.” And there was a way, and I wonder if there is a way for this to be right here as well. And as we were talking about this as a team, this came up. But the question is, are people participating in something like this, a small learning environment with no more than 25 students if it’s organized as shared learning for people in all sorts of school spaces, do you enroll in something like this? And is that definition something that actually a lot of people participate in but in a supplementary fashion? 

Is this like, are people who take their kids into study sessions, maybe if you’re in high school or middle school or something like that? Or I guess what a learning pod was or a pandemic pod, particularly when everyone was doing online learning of these small clusters of people coming together to do online work. Are people fitting this question into those categories as well? It seems like maybe that could influence. People are like, “Oh yeah, that’s a microschool that fits, or I can think of something that my is doing that fits these kinds of definitions.” That was my initial impression. 

We’re going to have to do some more survey work to see whether that is correct or not, whether that’s accurate. I will say the parents who are most likely to say that they are participating in something like this or are interested in participating in something like this, the demographic breakouts wind up looking not too dissimilar from what they look like for learning pod questions, or at least as far as how they rank. Private school parents are particularly high. Special education parents are particularly high or parents of kids with special needs. And then Black parents, parents in urban settings particularly interested in things like this. 

I think those demographic breakouts are correct and however we want to frame this question, I think we’re going to see that pretty similar. We’ll see how we treat this question in the future. I think if we find a way to kind of parse out whether people are considering this kind of thing to be supplementary to regular schooling, or supplanting, or replacing what we would consider traditional “brick and mortar schooling,” I think that’ll provide us to more information. 

But it also just speaks to if we believe that learning can happen anywhere. Once you get outside of the traditional brick and mortar setting, it actually is like, “Well, is this not all school?” I think the fact that maybe this question is a little more difficult to nail down or people are interpreting something that seemed like a very straightforward question to us possibly differently I think speaks to just how much learning can happen anywhere, and just how much parents can see valuable educational opportunities taking place beyond the standard classroom. 

Mike McShane: Colyn, you wrote a great blog post about the findings. I remiss every month when we do this, sometimes I remember to do this, but oftentimes that I don’t. Usually Colyn, but sometimes it alternates between Colyn and John. Someone on our team publishes a great sort of summary blog post every month, goes up on the EdChoice blog. 

So for those of you that don’t want to wade through 72 slides this month, Colyn very helpfully picked out the eight or 10 most interesting things and wrote about them. But in your process of writing that or just looking at it, what did you make of the microschooling question? 

Colyn Ritter: Yeah, this was one of the probably most anticipated, or at least in my time working with our public opinion tracker, probably one of the biggest eye-opening slides that we’ve gotten from morning consult, so much so that pretty much everyone on the microschool brigade, Mike being one of the biggest names just being called in almost to an emergency session like, “Is this number right?” This is higher than what we expected. 

So much so that to the point John was saying and Mike too, “Is this question being interpreted correctly?” I mean, eight percent is much larger than what we’ve seen in the past, and I could plug numerous of Mike’s good work and hard work on microschools. But to sum it up, we expect roughly two to four percent of students nationwide are enrolled in microschool, so to see eight percent was really interesting. 

I think the biggest thing that jumped out to me is kind of avoiding the eight percent versus what we expected. So we asked parents this question and we gave him three choices: Yes, my child is enrolled in a micro school, no, but I’m interested in learning more about micro schools and no, and I’m not interested in learning more about micro schools. So eight percent stayed true, this is also a split sample so some respondents got this question without the definition of microschools, and some with the definition of microschools, but eight percent remain true regardless of whether or not information was provided. 

But what I thought was interesting was the people who said no, their child is not enrolled in a microschool, but they are interested in learning more about microschools was roughly a third. So with that information, 37 percent of parents said that they were interested in learning more. With the definition of microschools, 31 percent. So roughly a third of parents are interested in learning more about microschools, and I think that is significant. 

I mean, I’ve talked a lot on here about learning pods and I’m a full believer in it, I think later down the road, and I’ve had this conversation many times that I think learning pods and microschools are going to play a huge part in the future of K12 education. But to see that roughly a third of parents are interested in learning more about it without their child being enrolled was really significant and lines up well with what we see roughly with learning pods in terms of interest. 

So yeah, the demographics are also interesting too, but I think this is a really good first step for this question. I know that we’re going to continue to evolve and try and nail down this question as best we can just to continue to see where this question grows. I mean, I think the interest was the biggest part because like you said Mike and John also said, I think there was probably a bit of confusion whether or not this question was meant to assume that parents are full-time enrolling their children in microschools versus using microschools as a supplement to full-time education in a traditional setting. 

Yeah, I think this is just a really good question. I told Paul, our boss, who helps create the questionnaire each month that this can grow in so many different ways, and it is a really sharp question to ask, and I’m looking forward to seeing next month where it goes. But yeah, Mike, I mean, you’re the microschool guy. I won’t take any more time. 

Mike McShane: 

No, this leads to a good transition actually in the fact that you were talking as well, this works on a couple levels. Because with the last segment we want to do here is sort of looking into the future, which questions that we’ve asked, are we looking to see new or different data from in the future? And obviously we’re doing… we’re recording this on Thursday the 9th of February. On Sunday, the Philadelphia Eagles who are supported by podcast participant Colyn Ritter will be playing against the Kansas City Chiefs supported by podcast participant, yours truly. 

And so I think both of us are looking forward to the Super Bowl, but we can think of questions that we’re looking forward to. I was thinking this may be the moment I’m absolutely springing this on Colyn right now, so we may have to edit it out later, but we were talking about doing some sort of friendly intra team wager given the fact that we have these two things. 

So Colyn, I would like to put it to you, I think the finest of all wagers we should put forward on the Super Bowl, which is the next time that you and I are together, the person whose team has lost needs to buy the representative of the winning team an ice cold draft beer. Do we feel like that is a fair bet between them? 

Colyn Ritter: I think that’s more than fair, yeah, absolutely. 

Mike McShane: So those of you that listen to the podcast- 

Colyn Ritter: Maybe yours will be a slightly more expensive one because Vegas has the Eagles slightly favored, but maybe we- 

Mike McShane: That’s what it is. Look, I’m a man of simple taste though. So if the Chiefs win, usually I might even go domestic, but that’s what we’ll see. And so podcast listeners, you’ll probably see a picture of us hopefully in some watering hole, one of us drowning our sorrows, and the other one celebrating over the ice cold beer so that’s what we’ll do. 

So in that spirit of looking forward, it’s funny because this microschooling question is the one that I’m looking forward to most. I think my first reaction when I saw the microschooling number was that it was high. I think we’ve talked about in the past, estimating as was mentioned, somewhere between two and four percent. Maybe seeing a number like this makes me point more, maybe it’s closer to four percent than two percent, but I don’t think it’s eight percent. But that said, I think we’re definitely going to want to ask some different versions of this question. I think we’re going to want to peel off, I mean, a lot of what’s already been said on here, but people who might have misunderstood the question, people who might have misinterpreted the question, or people who have thought about it in different ways. And microschooling is a very specific term, that maybe other people are doing that, but that’s not what they call it, or they don’t see it as such, and they just heard microschooling and turned off. 

So I think it’s going to take us a couple months, a couple different question iterations. We’re going to have to think about exactly how we want to ask that question. And then sort of a kind of triangulation. We’ll have a couple months of data, questions asked a certain way, and sort of picking and choosing amongst them to try and figure out what we think is the closest to the truth. 

So that’s what I’m looking forward to most. I mean, Colyn, since I just called you out for a wager, what number are you looking forward to most, other than, of course, a number in which the Philadelphia Eagles score more points than the Kansas City Chiefs? Strictly related to polling, what number are you looking forward to seeing in the future? 

Colyn Ritter: So we’ve been asking this question for the last couple months. We asked, and this is in the school choice portion of our report, which is towards the end, but we’ve been asking a really interesting one-off version of this question. So we ask parents, “Reflecting on the previous questions about school choice policies, are you aware of any of the following types of programs in your state?” So just for reference, the four school choice policies we talk about in the report are charter schools, open enrollment, school vouchers, and ESAs, and then we group them based on states that have this policy. So we have respondents from states that have the policies currently in their state, and then also we ask respondents from states that don’t have this policy, and then we group them whether or not they were correct or not. 

So it’s really fascinating, and I really, I’ve been kind of holding off to see how this goes, because I think this is the second or third month now that we’ve asked it. But one of the first things I noticed is that charter schools in open enrollment, especially in states that have the policies, which is more than the states that don’t have these policies, parents are getting it correct more often than they’re getting it wrong, which is obviously good to see. But I wouldn’t be saying this if this wasn’t the case for the other two. 

So school vouchers and ESAs, obviously there are more states that don’t have these policies than states that do, so those bars will be a bit larger. But what I’ve noticed is that at least in this month, in January, and since we are talking about this report, parents are getting it wrong equally as often or more than they are getting it right, especially in states that don’t have this policy. So for example, for ESAs, which I think is the most timely to talk about, shout out Iowa, shout out Utah, and a bunch of other states that are following, this has been a very fast start to the year 2023 when it comes to school choice implementation and the birth of new programs. 

But for example, ESAs, in states that don’t have ESAs, 33 percent of parents believe that they don’t have this policy, so that’s good. They’re correcting that. But 30 percent say that they do have this policy when they don’t. That’s a really interesting data point, but it also, I think it points to a further discussion just on awareness, and that’s kind of one hurdle. I mean, we can get really philosophical on this, but school choice implementation, one of the biggest hurdles from conversations I’ve had at conferences and things, one of the biggest hurdles, people assume, is getting it implemented, getting state governments to sign off on this, getting governors’ offices to sign off. But even in cases where it exists, the awareness and the getting parents to understand that this is something accessible to them is a whole nother thing to tackle. I think this question points to that in a really good way. 

And then just to round off the ESA question, we asked respondents from states that do have ESAs, nine percent say that they don’t, more so than the six percent that say that they do, and that they are correct. So I think that this is more of an awareness and a marketing issue for ESAs. Vouchers, they’ve been around a little bit longer. But yeah, I think this is a really good question. I’m really excited to see where it goes. Probably a little bit less excited to see where this goes than to watch the Super Bowl, but yeah, so just to throw this out there, I think it’s going to be 27-21 Eagles. That’s my prediction. 

Mike McShane: Okay. Now luckily, I’m going to throw this to John, so I can think about what I think the score will be. But John, what’s your number that you’ll be looking forward to in the future? 

John Kristof: Yeah. I’m going to be very calmly wearing my Bears jersey, just waiting for us to trade the first pick in the NFL draft. So it’s going to be … The sorrow has already been long dealt with this season, but anyway, it should be a good game. 

Honestly, I just kind of want to highlight the ESA thing again. And I know that Colyn’s mentioned this, so I just want to reemphasize the timeliness of this. As I’m sure anybody listening to this podcast knows, right, this is going to go down as just a massive year for education savings accounts in a lot of ways, right? In one sense, we have some of the most expansive programs being passed through state legislatures right now. We’ve already had an expansion to a universal education savings account last year. 

This is reaching a point where, in pretty mainstream news settings, people are talking about education savings accounts. Now, sometimes they’ll be like, “Well, education savings accounts are basically vouchers, so we’re just going to call them vouchers.” Bit of a subtweet there. But at the same time, education savings accounts are kind of showing up in mainstream media now, right? In ways where maybe they haven’t before. That is the term that’s being used, as opposed to vouchers, as opposed to school choice even. Obviously, all those things can be used at the same time, but ESAs are showing up. 

So given that, when legislatures start leaving in May, when legislatures start getting out of session in the spring, in the summer, where does everything fit then? Are people reading these things and hearing these things on the radio? People who are already aware of these kinds of issues? If so, that’s a marketing lesson. As Colyn was talking about, marketing issues and communication issues. So if there’s not a change, that tells us that other routes of communication are going to be really important as we’re advancing this issue. If awareness does seem to go up, then obviously that’s good news, and suggests maybe cascading effects in the future. 

Does approval go up or down? And you might expect me, being who I am, and what I support, and what podcast you’re listening to, you might expect me to be expecting approval to go up as people talk about it. And I’m also realistic enough to know that, at least in the short term, that might not necessarily be the case. We know from surveys we’ve done through our history, sometimes when things get really political, and when school choice issues are kind of at the center of political discussions, sometimes that sours people a little more on it, because they think about it from a political perspective more than from a social policy perspective, from how it affects them and how it affects their neighbors and things like that. And then when the dust settles a little bit, and the matter gets a little less politicized, then people start becoming more favorable to it again, because they’re not thinking about it so much in a politics or party or an election kind of sense. 

So it’ll be really interesting to come back in three to six months and see where those things sit. I think we’re going to learn lessons about messaging, and communication, and communication avenues when it comes to marketing our issue. And I think we’re going to learn something about how tied ESAs are to politics now, whether it is linked in similar ways to vouchers, as far as tied to political news cycles and things like that. And if so, baby’s grown up. And if not, that’s an important lesson too. 

So yeah, we’re sure to talk about it in three to six months, and maybe just every month until then. But yeah, as I’m going around the internet, reading the articles, listening to the radio, this is what I’m thinking of. We’re not seeing huge changes yet in January, but legislative session was just heating up. So we get a February, March, April. It’s going to be interesting to see how everything shakes out. 

Mike McShane: Well, I think we’re going to have to leave it there. Colyn, John, a pleasure as always. Oh, I think I’ll put my score in there. I had some time to do some quick math, looking at what Vegas has as the over-under point number, so I think I’m going to go 20 … Colyn, what did you say? 

Colyn Ritter: I said 27-21 Eagles. I think the pass rush is just … I think it’ll be a version of the Bucks-Chiefs Super Bowl, but a closer version. I think the main principles of the game are still the same. 

Mike McShane: Okay. Well, I’m going with 27-24, Chiefs over Eagles, and we’ll see. Probably by the time y’all are listening to this, you’ll know. But best of luck to all involved. 

Colyn Ritter: Maybe we can do on the beer bet to be geographically consistent. Maybe yours can be, if we’re in a place where there’s Boulevard for Kansas City. If I have to buy you one, then you can buy me a Yuengling. 

Mike McShane: I love it. That sounds great. All right, fellas. A pleasure as always. And thanks again, as always, to Jacob Vinson, our fantastic podcast producer, and I look forward to chatting with all of you again on another edition of EdChoice Chats. Take care, everybody.