NEPC Review: Why Indiana Parents Choose: A Cross-Sector Survey of Parents' Views in a Robust School Choice Environment (EdChoice, September 2017)
In this report, a school choice advocacy group presents results from its survey of K-12 parents within and across the public and private sectors. They report that parents are highly satisfied with voucher and tax credit scholarship programs and suggest that the findings support the expansion of school choice programs. However, these and other findings are consistent with research showing general parental satisfaction with their children’s schools. One underemphasized finding is that substantial proportions of public school families—the largest constituency of K-12 parents in Indiana—did not participate in private school choice programs because they are happy with their current schools and want to support public schools. The survey and analysis fall short in four ways. First, three incompatible data collection methods were used to collect small samples of non-representative groups of Indiana parents. Second, the statistical analyses are too weak to draw clear conclusions. Third, while organized like a conventional research study, the report appears to be designed to advance an agenda rather than provide substantive answers to important policy questions. Finally, the report provides little new information about parents’ experiences with their children’s schools. Thus, the report does not add to our knowledge about school choice in Indiana or provide much useful information about public support for school choice programs.