Emily Stahly

Millennials often get a bad rap for selfishness and self-righteousness—Times Magazine labelled us the “Me Me Me Generation,” after all—but when it comes to school choice and education reform, we’re leading the way.

Earlier this month a polling report released by EdChoice demonstrated that support for school choice policies is stronger among millennials than among older generations. When surveyed about charter schools, voucher programs, education savings accounts, and tax-credit scholarships, millennials’ support for these programs was the strongest of any age group. The table below breaks down generational support for four different school choice policies.

 Charter SchoolsVoucher ProgramsESAsTax-credit Scholarships
Generation X61565356
Baby Boomers53524650
National Average59564955

The margin of support for school choice grows even larger with millennial parents of school-age children. Over 70 percent of millennial parents support each of the four school choice programs.

It is not surprising that millennial parents support these policies so enthusiastically, considering that 61 percent of all millennial parents would choose a nontraditional public school for their child if they could.

Unfortunately, policy has not kept up with parental demand. Consider the following:

  • 11 percent of parents would like to enroll their child in a charter school, but only 5 percent actually do so.
  • 38 percent would like to enroll their children in private schools, but only 10 percent do so.
  • 12 percent of families would like to homeschool their children, but only 3 percent of parents do so.

By contrast, even though traditional public schools are the first choice for only 30 percent of parents, 83 percent of parents send their children to public school.

Another interesting find in this report is the difference of opinion between white and nonwhite millennials. While both groups support school choice policies, nonwhite respondents held more favorable views of charter schools (69 percent compared to 60 percent of white millennials) and ESAs (65 percent versus 55 percent of whites). These results are especially relevant in light of the NAACP calling for a moratorium on charter school expansion recently, and the backlash from parents that followed.

Given that millennials are a growing portion of the adult population and make up most of the parents of school-age children, policymakers would be wise to listen to their opinions on education policy. Instead of limited educational opportunities, parents want to be empowered to provide their children with the best education possible through school choice. 

About the Author

Emily Stahly

Emily Stahly is an analyst at the Show-Me Institute. She earned her B.A. in politics from Hillsdale College in Michigan and is researching education with the Show-Me Institute.