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School Choice is the "New Normal"

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(NewsUSA) - What do parents really think about school choice in 2024? A new survey by the National School Choice Awareness Foundation sheds light on what they're thinking, and looking for, as National School Choice Week spurs families to start the process of choosing new schools for the fall. Two truths, and one oft-repeated myth, offer insights into how they'll shape the landscape of education with the choices they make.

Here's truth number one. Parents are more interested in changing their children's schools than they were during the pandemic. 72% considered new schools for their children last year compared to 52% in 2022. If you're not the parent of a school age child, you'd be forgiven for assuming parents crave stability after the upheaval of the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years, but the data says something different. The high water mark of interest in choosing a new school during the pandemic came in the fall of 2020, when 63% of parents were considering it. Yet this month, January 2024, 72% said they have considered choosing a new school for their child in the last year.

Truth number two is this: America’s parents know that school choice is expanding––and they are talking about it. More than half of parents say their state now offers more education options, and the majority also say they've talked about school enrollment decisions with friends and families in the last month. More options, and more open conversation about these choices, is what we can expect in this "new normal"

Here's the myth: school choice is a partisan issue. The truth of the matter is that school choice decisions are personal, not political. If you're only listening to the pundits, it may surprise you to hear that parents who identify as Democrats are searching for new schools at a higher rate than those who identify as Republicans. On the other hand, parents identifying as Republicans are interested in choosing public schools for their kids at the same levels as parents who identify as Democrats.

Clearly, school choice is the new normal for American families. Thankfully, 27,000 schools, homeschool groups, and community leaders are stepping up to take part in National School Choice Week, ensuring that parents see the options in their community firsthand. Millions of parents are doing their part to proactively explore the changing educational landscape for their children. Working together, educators and parents are poised to ensure that this new normal puts kids first.

Shelby Doyle, based in Nashville, TN, is the vice president of public awareness at the National School Choice Awareness Foundation, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that hosts National School Choice Week each January and maintains the nation’s largest online portfolio of English- and Spanish-language school navigation resources.