Do enrollment numbers reflect school preference?

Should we assume the school a student attends is necessarily his or her top choice? A recent study from EdChoice suggests we should not make that assumption.    

The report, “Schooling in America – 2019,” took a look once again at school type enrollment and parental satisfaction. The majority of the parents surveyed have had their children in public district schools as seen below:

The survey asked current school parents to rank the top three reasons (table 1) why they chose to send their child to a specific type of school. Public district school parents were most likely to say they chose a district school because of its proximity to their home or work (49%), it was their assigned school (37%), or for socialization/peers/other kids (32%). When asked to select the top reason for choosing the school, public district school parents’ decisions were most likely to be based on the school being their assigned school (22%). When asked for the top reason, both private school parents’ (17%) and charter school parents’ (12%) decisions were most likely to be based on academic reputation of the school. In contrast, the top three factors for homeschoolers were the safe environment (41%), individual attention (36%), and religious instruction (25%). 

In addition to asking for the factors that influenced parents to choose a type of school, the survey also asked parents about their top schooling preference (Figure 4). Interestingly, although 87% of the children were enrolled in public school, only 45% of the parents responded their top schooling preference was public school. Also, a plurality of current school parents (42%) said they would send their child to a private school if it was an option. 

The survey also showed that less than one-third of parents (32%) would select a public district school. Equal proportions said they prefer a public charter school (13%) or want to home-school their children (13%). Also of note, compared to other current school parents, educators were slightly less likely to want to send their children to a private school (39%) or charter school (10%), but they are far less likely to want to home-school their children (4%). 

In conclusion, enrollment numbers do not necessarily reflect schooling preferences. This survey shows us that families still want more choice and opportunity for their own children when it comes to education, and that many would choose differently if they had a choice. 

At Love Your School, our hope is that when asked, “Do you love your school?” every family will be able to respond with a resounding “yes!” Arizona families love their school options and families know their children better than anyone else. Let’s continue to celebrate ALL school options in our state, and the families who choose them. Whether it’s district, charter, online, private, homeschool or ESA, Arizona is better and stronger when families can put their children in an educational environment that best meets their unique needs. 


- Jenny Clark

Founder & Executive Director

Arizona native and mother of five, Love Your School Founder Jenny Clark knows full well the unique variations in how children learn. Jenny grew up in Arizona, attended her local district school from K-12, and then continued on to the University of Arizona and received a BSBA in Business Economics.

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