Nearly one in four Michigan public school students attended a different public school than the one assigned to them based on their home address, according to a 2016 MLive analysis of state data. Specifically, 13 percent attended a conventional school district outside their home boundaries through Michigan’s Schools of Choice program and another 10 percent enrolled in one of the 300 public charter schools in the state. This rate grew significantly from 2011 when just 14 percent of students were enrolled through these choice offerings. Clearly, more Michigan families are making use of their options within the public education system. But little is known of their motivations and experiences.
This report highlights the results of a survey conducted of Michigan parents who exercise some form of public school choice for their children. Among the diverse group of 837 parents from across the state who were interviewed, substantial majorities gave high marks to their chosen school, said the experience boosted their expectations of their children’s future success and would likely recommend choice options to other parents. Respondents also said that information they receive from other parents influences their school choice decisions, in addition to published school performance data and in-person visits. Survey results further revealed that most parents highly value academics in making their decision, though safety and discipline are leading considerations as well.