While no approach satisfies everyone, even where they have exercised choice, parents of voucher students are much more satisfied than parents in the public school system.
According to the new report from Harvard University’s Program on Education Policy and Governance, safety and discipline were ranked high by both sets of parents. Many believed their schools were relatively safe. But nearly two-thirds of voucher parents were “very satisfied” with both factors at their children’s schools, compared to 40 percent of public school parents.
Perhaps most interestingly, the Edgewood public schools had advantages in class size and school facilities. The average Edgewood public school classroom had 20 students, while there were 21 in the average Horizon classroom. Public school students were much more likely to be in a school with a computer lab, library, gym, or nurse’s office, and parents recognized this. Some 83 percent of public school parents said their school had more extensive facilities and programs. The common denominators were that schools in each group had a cafeteria and after-school programs.
Nevertheless, Horizon parents expressed more satisfaction with class size and school facilities than did Edgewood public school parents. As might be expected, more Horizon parents, 92 percent, said their child was attending a school they prefer, but 75 percent of the Edgewood district parents said the same. That may explain why only 837 of the district’s total 13,490 students (just over 6 percent) elected to choose a different school. Some may also have hesitated because the program is new and there was a lack of sufficient warning. Future years will show if these are significant factors.