Michigan Parents and Voters Strongly Support School Choice

Charter school parents extremely satisfied and voters favor expanding school choice options

Thursday, September 6, 2018
Contact:
Holly Wetzel
Communications Coordinator
989-698-1927
wetzel@mackinac.org

MIDLAND — Michigan charter school parents are satisfied with their child’s education and are very likely to recommend charter schools to other parents, according to a new survey released today by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Earlier this year, the Mackinac Center partnered with Marketing Resource Group to conduct an online survey of more than 1,400 charter school parents across the state. The results showed considerable support for charter schools: 91 percent of parents were likely to recommend charter schools to others. When asked to assign their charter school a grade, 85 percent of those surveyed gave their school an A or B.

In Michigan, one in 10 public school students attend a charter school. Most of the state’s charter schools are located in low-income areas, providing a sought-after alternative to the traditional public schools. Charter schools, which are state-funded, tuition-free and open to all, receive less funding than district-run schools, yet the best available research suggests they produce better academic results, on average.

The parents surveyed had the opportunity to identify why they chose to send their child to a charter school. The most common response was that their child’s learning needs were not being met — either their student was falling behind or in need of a greater academic challenge. Bullying or other personal safety issues were other common reasons for parents to explore alternative educational possibilities.

Other parents desired a more personal learning environment for their kids. These views are exemplified by Tiffany Brown, a mother of two students attending Greater Heights Academy in Flint.

“My main reason that [school choice] is important for me is because there have been a lot of school closings in Flint and so for this one to open up and come in the area, I don’t have to worry about overcrowding," Brown told the Mackinac Center earlier this year at the National School Choice Week celebration in Lansing. "[It’s] smaller and more personal. My children get more one-on-one time there.”

In a different survey conducted statewide in July, the Mackinac Center found that more Michigan voters continue to favor charter schools and that support for Schools of Choice is also high. Schools of Choice allows students to attend schools in districts outside of the one they live in.

Private school choice programs were equally or more popular among the likely voters polled. More than 70 percent back giving state tax credits for donations to scholarship programs that would help low-income or special-needs students attend private schools. Almost 60 percent approve of state-funded K-12 education savings accounts that would enable parents to pay for a variety of educational expenses.

"It's encouraging to see most Michigan residents, and even more so parents, recognize the value of choice," said Ben DeGrow, director of education policy at the Mackinac Center. "Our state would benefit by giving families from all communities and backgrounds the opportunity to select educational options that offer what their children need to be successful and reach their potential."

You can view the complete charter school survey here.

The results of the school choice voter survey are available here.