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Research

  • Oct 06 2016

Millennial Perspectives on K-12 Education and School Choice

By Paul DiPerna, Drew Catt

The Millennial Perspectives on K–12 Education & School Choice report is part of the larger Schooling in America (SIA) survey project. Paul DiPerna, who leads the SIA project, offers snapshots of Millennials’ views on the direction of American K–12 education, various educational choice policies, standardized testing and more. This report also breaks down responses across generations.

What Will I Learn? Download Report

Breaking Down EdChoice’s 2016 National “Schooling in America” Survey


In this report, you will learn:

  • 1

    Millennials and Gen Xers, those most likely to be parents of school-aged children, have stronger support for education savings accounts (ESAs) than older generations.

    ESAs are the newest, most flexible type of educational choice program, and 57 percent of Millennials support such a policy. Only 21 percent of Millennials oppose ESAs. Likewise, Generation X is much more likely to support ESAs: 53 percent favor vs. 27 percent oppose. In contrast, 46 percent of Baby Boomers and 44 percent of Silent Generation respondents said they favored ESAs. Millennials’ top reported reasons for favoring ESAs is “more freedom and flexibility for parents” and “access to schools providing more individual attention,” while the top reasons for opposing is their perception that ESAs could “cause fraudulent behavior” and that they might “divert funding away from public schools.”
  • 2

    Millennials want and prefer a diverse range of schooling options for their kids, but today’s enrollments don’t reflect that.

    Nearly 50 percent of Millennials give the public schools in their district a rating of C, D or F, and when asked their preferred school type for their kids or future kids, they indicate a desire for diversity in education. Nearly four out of 10 Millennials (38 percent) say they would prefer a private school; 30 percent would prefer a public district school; 11 percent, a charter school; 12 percent, home school. Millennials’ schooling preferences are not reflected in today’s current student enrollments, however. Eighty-three percent of America’s K–12 students attend public district schools, 10 percent attend private schools; 5 percent attend charters; and 3 percent home school.
  • 3

    Millennial parents go to great lengths for their children’s education and are often more likely than the average parent to do so.

    Many Millennial parents have made great sacrifices to support their children’s schooling. They have changed jobs (18 percent vs. national average 14 percent), moved closer to school (26 percent vs. national average 17 percent) and taken other jobs for additional income (32 percent vs. national average 21 percent) specifically to support their children’s K–12 education. Millennials are also more likely than the national average to rely on family or friends to look after their children after school (58 percent vs. 49 percent) or to transport their children (55 percent vs. 47 percent). Notably, Millennials are twice as likely to pay for their children’s transportation to school than the national average (30 percent vs. 15 percent). When asked if they have significantly changed their daily routine to accommodate their children’s education, 41 percent said they had. Note: We interviewed 133 Millennial parents. Some results above show significant differences. Most differences are considered to be suggestive.
  • 4

    Millennials don’t know how much we spend on K–12 education, but are more likely to think we should spend more.

    Most Millennials (87 percent) estimate incorrectly or don’t know how much we spend on K–12 education, and without any information they are slightly more likely than the national average to say we don’t spend enough (55% vs. 52%, respectively). However, when Millennials are told how much we spend per pupil on average ($10,763 in SY 2012–13), the percentage of Millennials who say we don’t spend enough on K–12 education drops significantly (by 18 percentage points) and more so than any other generation.

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