- The inaugural 2017 Collaborative for Customer-Based Execution and Strategy (C-CUBES) Benchmark K-12 School Study conducted by scholars at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business finds that parents who are “very dissatisfied” with their child’s public school are 2.5 times more likely to switch to a charter school than “very satisfied” parents, eSchool News reports.
- The ongoing study, which has a stated goal of providing “an evidence-based approach to incorporate the stakeholder input in strategic planning and execution for public schools,” also found that 66% of parents surveyed “somewhat/completely” agree that increased school choice is always better, but only 36% “somewhat/completely” agree that charter schools provide a better education than district schools.
- The study also found that the biggest drivers of overall satisfaction with a school were family and community engagement, safety and teachers, and that these factors carried greater weight than extracurricular activities, which is a focus for many public schools.
It is less than 20 years since charter schools began to emerge on the American education landscape, but their impact can now be fully felt in almost every state in the nation. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the percentage of public school students who attended public charter schools increased from 2% to 5% between fall 2004 and fall 2014. However, while the number of students enrolled in charter schools increased by 1.8 million students — from 0.9 million to 2.7 million — during that time frame, the number of students attending traditional public schools decreased by only 0.4 million, indicating that charter school enrollment is affecting private school enrollment to a greater degree, especially in urban areas.
It seems unlikely that the era of school choice will end anytime soon. As many charter, private and home school families prepare to celebrate National School Choice Week next week with the full support of the U.S. Secretary of Education, public schools need to reassess how these increased parental options affect the way school happens. There is already evidence that increased school choice can cause public schools to perform more competitively. And public schools are now having to work harder to establish their brand in a competitive marketplace.
However, more changes may be on the horizon that may benefit public schools in the long run. In North Carolina, for instance, lawmakers are a now allowing some struggling public schools to have charter school flexibility in terms of calendar creation, funding, curriculum and staffing. If more public schools are allowed some of these charter school advantages in the future, they may have more scope for innovative approaches to education. More public schools are already looking at successful charter school models for new ideas and collaboration between public and charter schools is growing in some areas.