Posted on Dec 16 2009 in General by Anne Miller
- By Yvonne Bunn, HEAV director of homeschool support and legislative affairs
Although 90% of Virginia’s school-age population attend government schools, many families would change that if they could.
According to a newly released study, School Choice Survey: Virginia’s Opinion on K-12 Education and School Choice (released by the Friedman Foundation in November 2009), Virginia parents support educational freedom and school choice.
39% of the parents with children in public school would choose another form of education, while 40% are satisfied with their child’s education. The survey results reveal a major disconnect between the preferences of parents and actual school enrollments.
- 40% of parents say they would choose a regular public school for their child. However, approximately 90% of Virginia’s K-12 students attend regular public schools.
- 39% of K-12 parents say they would like to send their child to a private school. In reality, approximately 9% of Virginia’s K-12 students attend private schools.
- 11% of parents in the survey would prefer to homeschool their children. According to data collected by the Virginia Department of Education, close to 2% of school-age children are homeschooled.
- 8% of parents say they would like to send their child to a charter school. Currently there are only three charter schools in operation in Virginia, serving approximately 190 students.
The survey also reveals many parents have succumbed to the “not-my-school” syndrome. The same survey participants who believe there are problems with the government-run system don’t think things are as bad in their child’s school as in other schools. 62% of Virginians believe their school is “good” or “excellent.” But if given the chance to send their children to a private or charter school, or to homeschool, then 54% said they would make a change. Residents in Northern Virginia shared the most positive views of government schools (70%).
Interestingly, the survey indicates a majority (65%) of tax-paying survey participants underestimate how much it costs to educate public school children in Virginia. 19% believe it costs less than $3,000, and 28% believe it costs between $3,001 and $6,000. In reality, the average cost to educate a child in Virginia in 2007 was close to $12,000 per student.
The entire survey can be reviewed here.
 Private school enrollment estimate obtained from Stephen Broughman, Nancy Swaim, and Patrick Keaton, Characteristics of Private Schools in the United States: Results From the 2007-08 Private School Universe Survey (NCES 2009-313). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences (U.S. Department of Education. 2009), Table 15.
 Homeschooling data from the document posted on the Virginia Department of Education website: http://www.heav.org/assets/files/law/Homeschool-Numbers-2008-2009.pdf.