Parents Want Different Styles of Schools, Survey Finds

Published September 23, 2013

Most K-12 parents want a solid core curriculum in reading, math, and science, but they have different preferences for school culture and emphasis, a new survey finds.

The survey of more than 2,000 parents distinguished groups who prefer particular education styles. The largest, labeled “pragmatists,” constituted the 36 percent who want vocational education. These tend to have lower incomes and be parents of boys. “Jeffersonians,” the second largest at 24 percent, want education aimed at civics and leadership. Twenty-three percent of parents prize high test scores. Other categories include “multiculturalists,” parents who prize arts instruction, and others who seek elite college acceptance.

These findings reinforce 20 years of similar polls, and they show governments shoul’n’t enforce one course of study for all children, said the Cato Institute’s Andrew Coulson.

“For those who want to believe that the state must control what goes on in classrooms, no amount of evidence will ever convince them otherwise,” Coulson commented on Cato’s blog. “But for the rest of the population, Fordham’s study will go a long way toward showing that efforts like ‘Common Core’ are, at best, superfluous.”

Learn more:
“What Parents Want,” Thomas B. Fordham Institute, August 2013:


Image by Henry de Saussure Copland