Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Detroit Parents Choosing Educational Alternatives in Strong Numbers

One of the major tenets behind the school choice movement is that parents know their children better than bureaucrats and are in the best position to make educational choices for their children.

Supporters of a quality education for every child would argue that if a child is not getting a quality education in his or her assigned school, that child should have the choice at attend a different school. Furthermore, they believe that parents should be able to shop for the best education, and additional choices will raise all boats via much-needed competition.  Both arguments bring us to one place: school choice.

According to The Detroit News, parents in the Motor City are not only shopping for better schools, but they're doing so in high numbers.  Nearly three-fourths of parents report shopping for a school besides their assigned public school, according to a recent survey conducted by Michigan Future, Inc., a nonpartisan think-tank.

With 71 percent of parents taking advantage of educational options in Detroit, here's where students are going:

  • 55 percent attend their assigned public school
  • 22.5 percent attend charter schools in Detroit
  • 15.2 percent attend public schools outside of Detroit
  • 5.1 percent attend magnet schools in Detroit
  • 2.5 percent attend private school or are homeschooled
Detroit has lost more than 100,000 students over the past decade, and today serves 90,499 students in the its public school district.  Of those students, 47.2 percent live in poverty and 78.2 percent are enrolled in the federal free and reduced-price lunch program.  In addition, approximately 45,000 children attend public charter schools.

And charter schools in Detroit have been gaining success in recent years.  In fact, Jalen Rose, former NBA star and strong supporter of educational options—including private school choice—has this year opened a charter school for 120 ninth-graders.

But perhaps most notable in the choice survey is that 59 percent of parents have enrolled their child in an alternative option to the assigned Detroit public school in the past five years.  And the top two reasons cited for choosing to shop: academic performance and safety and discipline.

The survey, which included 1,073 homes with 1,699 school-aged children, can be found online here.

- American Federation for Children | Alliance for School Choice, MSG

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