What Can Millennials Teach Us about School Choice?
Charged with unreasonably loving avocado toast and ”killing” the diamond industry, millennials hear many complaints about choices they make every day. But one thing millennials have not killed is school choice. A recent panel of millennials hosted at a South by Southwest conference expanded on what a fall 2018 genforward survey found: Millennials support school choice.
In the survey, millennials were defined as adults aged 18-34 and the surveyed group was a nationally representative sample. The survey found majority support for voucher opportunities (67 to 84 percent among racial and ethnic groups), described as government funding for private school tuition for low-income students. Charter schools also received majority support, from 54 to 67 percent among racial and ethnic groups. As the millennial generation will soon make up the largest population in the electorate, their preferences are important.
Let’s face it; choices permeate daily life at every turn. On items ranging from transportation (drive or rideshare?), eating (go out or app delivery?), and products (trusted brand or monthly subscription?), people are accustomed to making a choice. Millennials have grown up in an age where their preferences are the driving force of their choices. In any instance of choice, you must evaluate your needs and priorities and then find something, a good or a service, to fulfill those needs. In this way, choices regarding education are no different.
In the case of education, the needs of students may be safety, college preparation, community service, career training, individualized teaching, or many other characteristics. All are good things, but not every school can focus on everything. A system of educational freedom and school choice would allow parents to choose a school where their needs are most met. In order for students to flourish, families should be equipped to respond to their child’s educational needs with choice. Millennial support for school choice should be taken as a sign that they are serious about education serving students well.
As it turns out, millennials may be the best generation so far to ask, “does this option or that option best serve my needs?” This question doesn’t lose its importance outside the realm of restaurants and transportation but its relevance and importance actually increase when it comes to education—the stakes are much higher.