December 1, 2000
Research shows that parental involvement in a child's education is a strong predictor of student achievement. Typically, the more involved the parents, the better off the child. Yet the current structure of elementary and secondary schools tends to marginalize parents. In most areas, government assigns children to particular schools, and school boards and bureaucrats control textbooks, curriculum and other central aspects of a child's education.
Studies from school choice experiments suggest that school choice can be a powerful engine for parental involvement. Although a universal, customer-driven system has not been tried, sufficient research exists to prove that modified forms of choice, such as charter schools, vouchers and private scholarship programs, increase parental involvement. Compared with public school parents, parents of children in choice programs:
- Are more involved with their children's academic programs;
- Participate more in school activities;
- Believe that their chosen school offers a greater measure of safety, discipline and instructional quality than did their previous school;
- Are more satisfied with their children's education in a choice program; and
- Are likely to re-enroll their children in the choice program.
Source: Philip Vassallo, "More than Grades: How Choice Boosts Parental Involvement and Benefits Children," Policy Analysis No. 383, October 26, 2000, Cato Institute, 1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001, (202) 842-0200.
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