School Choice

Why Millennials Could Become the School Choice Generation

When advocates make clear that school choice is about liberating kids from their zip codes, the message resonates.


School choice
Eddie Moore/ZUMA Press/Newscom

Millennials could become the school choice generation—but advocates still have a lot of work to do.

According to a survey released by EdChoice in October, millennials are more in favor of many kinds of school choice reform—charter schools, voucher programs—than older Americans, but only when they are educated about these programs.

As I wrote in October:

Overall, 63 percent of millennial respondents were in favor of charter schools, and just 19 percent were opposed. The national average was 59 percent and 23 percent. This means that millennials were actually slightly more pro-charter than the average, though the difference is within the survey's margin of error.

That should be reason enough for school choice reformers to cheer, though some caution is still warranted: millennials held initially hostile views toward vouchers—just 33 percent supported them. But the survey asked the question twice: after it explained what vouchers were, support for them rose to 61 percent.

These results don't surprise me, because school choice reflects an important philosophy of millennials: that people deserve more choice and control over their own lives. Of course the generation that thinks Facebook should list 58 different gender options wouldn't be content with a non-choice paradigm for U.S. schools. Compared to older Americans, millennials are less likely to feel bound to follow tradition and stick to a set plan—they're more likely to move across the country, think outside the two-party system, and get their news from something other than cable. They're also more skeptical of the idea that the government restrictions on immigration are justified.

Philosophically, immigration is a lot like school choice. It's wrong for the government to force people to confine their activities to the place where they were born, and it's similarly wrong for the government to force kids to attend the school associated with the place where they were born.

When advocates make clear that school choice is about liberating kids from their zip codes, the message resonates with millennials.

National School Choice Week, an annual event promoting the ability of parents and students to have greater options in K-12 education, starts today. Over 21,000 events involving almost 17,000 schools from all 50 states will take place over the coming days. Go here to get more information about events and data about how increasing school choice–charters, vouchers, educational savings accounts, and more–is one of the best ways to improve education for all Americans. As a proud media sponsor of National School Choice Week, Reason will be publishing daily articles, podcasts, videos, interviews, and other coverage exploring the ways in which education is being radically altered and made better by letting more people have more choices when it comes to learning. For a constantly updated list of stories, go to Reason's archive page on "school choice."


NEXT: Mike Pence Speaks at March for Life, Photos of Trump Have NOT Been Edited to Make His Hands Look Bigger: P.M. Links

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  1. About the same chances of them being the Libertarian Moment generation?

    1. If there is hope it lies in the millennials…

  2. Unschooling is the best choice.

    1. I wonder why reason has never interviewed John Taylor Gatto. He seems to have been name-dropped a few times, but he’s never been reached out to…


      1. Well, that explains why he is so popular at

      2. Perhaps Mr. and Mrs. Gatto could be invited to comment on H&R, although I have it upon no authority that an abundance of similarly minded individuals will sway a more numerous audience who do not share their views.

  3. “That should be reason enough for school choice reformers to cheer, though some caution is still warranted: millennials held initially hostile views toward vouchers?just 33 percent supported them. But the survey asked the question twice: after it explained what vouchers were, support for them rose to 61 percent.”

    POLLSTER: “What do you think about giving poor parents a choice of schools like rich parents have?”

    MILLENIAL: “That sounds great, I’m for it!”

    POLLSTER: “Now, what do you think of the corporately-funded effort to promote charter schools and draw funding away from the public schools?”

    MILLENNIAL: “I’m against it!”

    POLLSTER: “Do you think parents, instead of being compelled to subsidize educational programs they disagree with and which their kids don’t even use, should be able to take their education dollars and spend them in a school of choice?”

    MILLENNIAL: “Of course!”

    POLLSTER: “Do you think the government should subsidize religious parents who want to send their kids to private schools which deny evolution?”

    MILLENNIAL: “Of course not!”

    1. MILLENNIAL: “OK, it’s been fun talking to you, but I want to back to playing on my iPhone, ‘bye.”

    2. You people are gonna reduce me to nothing but posting Yes, Prime Minister videos.

      1. I must say you left out the best part (although it’s not related)

        Humprey: “Things don’t just happen because Prime Ministers are very keen on them. Neville Chamberlain was very keen on peace!”

        1. I assume that the 3% that clicks on links will hit back after two seconds if it doesn’t look relevant.

      2. “No, the reputable pollsters don’t do that, but there aren’t many of those.”

      3. PZ,

        This is the link which you provided some time ago which I have often made available in other situations. I do not recall if you were the original poster, however, and will report my own survey in no time.

        1. All. Ask is that you spread the word of Greatest TV Show Of All Time!

    3. But feelz


    Could Trump make Seattle’s homeless crisis even worse?

    Seattle-area advocates of programs to help ease the homelessness crisis worry the new administration could roll back essential funding for those sleeping on the streets.

    This shit happened entirely under your watch, you are singularly responsible for it, and now you worry that Trump will make what Obama created even worse? Jesus fucking Christ go fuck yourselves.

    1. It’s a serious concern. All the Trump refugees getting turned back at Peace Arch – where do you think they’ll end up?

    2. Why is Seattle so worried about funding for the homeless? I thought the minimum wage hike was making everybody rich?

      1. Clearly $15 wasn’t high enough.

    3. This is a golden oldie – homelessness was a huge story from 1981-92, and then the media suddenly clammed up about it in 1993. Now, once again, it’s a major story.

      1. I didn’t know about this rule til someone here mentioned it, and it took less than a week to see it proven true

      2. I won’t be happy until homeless camps are called Trumptowns.

        1. < a href = "">Get used to disappointment

          1. Inconceivable.

          2. That isn’t even a SF – appears we have a new nomenclature for link failure.

  5. …but only when they are educated about these programs.

    Millennials do seem open to ideas from outside the bubble.

    1. They are educated about them. By their union public school teachers.

  6. I always hear the argument that it takes money away from public schools like that argument makes any sense at all. Sure the private dmv has a drive through that only takes 2 minutes instead of 2 hours of standing in line but it takes money away from the public dmv.

    1. There is a kernel of coherence to the argument, but it almost always gets lost because those who peddle it usually are parroting the argument phonetically, and are simply looking for any wad of spaghetti to throw at the wall.

      The argument is that the charters attract the children of parents who need to actually actively do something to get their kids into the charters. In other words, the children of parents who give a shit enough to care about the quality of their kids’ school and find a different school if the school they are assigned sucks and go through the effort of getting their kids into the new school, etc.

      This leaves the public school specifically with the children of the parents who don’t give a shit, can’t be bothered, etc.

      Add that to a funding structure tied to performance, and a per-pupil funding formula, and you get public school as essentially a sump for the least motivated, most troubled students, and less of the overall funding pie going into dealing with them.

      The root problem is probably the concept of mandatory schooling itself. The freedom to simply reject the education system altogether should be one of the options.

      1. Well we could not pretend like those residual students are ever going to college and go ahead and turn the old public schools into distibution centers and let the kids pack boxes or whatever, hell even pay them. They can get a head start on work experience. The kids that want an education will figure out how to get into the charter schools.

      2. The corollary to this is that we should lock up all the kids who want an education with the ones that don’t, and hope the good kids will rub off on the bad kids, and not vice-versa.

        While there are some students on the margins, that’s not a particularly compelling argument to sacrifice the students hoping to improve their lives, just because they happen to be in geographical proximity to the bad students. Especially since those making the argument are unwilling to sacrifice their own children in this scheme.

        If the worry is that the public schools will be stuck with the worst students, then they could be flagged, similar to special needs students, with special programs set up for them.

      3. This leaves the public school specifically with the children of the parents who don’t give a shit, can’t be bothered, etc.

        It also leaves them with kids whose parents tried, but didn’t succeed, to get in. Watch The Lottery for more. (Note: not the Jackson story.)

    2. Someone tried the “Devos wants to destroy public schools” line on me.

      I said “it might close the public schools which parents are trying to escape, but you and I agree there are good public schools which parents *aren’t* trying to escape, so those schools won’t be harmed. And the bad schools *should* be harmed.

      1. I have been told in all seriousness that there are no bad schools, only bad student populations. The person (a liberal Democrat) making this argument did not see it as being at all racist.

        1. there are no bad schools, only bad student populations

          But we have to spend $20,000 per student per year on pretending to educate them?

          1. Tyrant! We need at least another $100k per student in social psychologists who can transform them into good student populations! School choice advocates only distract attention from this.

        2. ? Refute it or point and sputter moar.

          1. Well, one would hope that the quality of the teachers and the administrators has at least some bearing on the quality of the school, if only for the sake of justifying any of their paychecks.

      2. Here in Georgia they had a ballot initiative to allow the state to create a sort of state-wide school system whereby the state would take over control of schools that failed to meet minimum state standards for three years in a row. The ballot initiative failed after the educrats and their supporters ran a huge campaign of “OMG! The state wants to take local control away from your schools and turn it over to some unaccountable bureaucrat in Atlanta!”. The plan wasn’t perfect and I’m sure it involved a lot of bureaucratic/political nonsense, but the idea that the state stepping in and taking away local control from schools that demonstrated an inability to meet minimum standards for 3 straight years was a horrible idea? Yeah, I’d say if you’ve proved you don’t know how to run a school district somebody needs to step in and take it away from you. (I’ll give you two guesses as to what the educrats proposed solution to dealing with chronically failing schools is, and if you guess “incentivize them by giving them less money and telling them they’ll get more money as a reward for doing a better job” I’d just like to be the first to welcome you to this planet.)

        1. Jerry, i will trade you one Libtard Colorado hippie chick for a sweet Georgia peach

        2. “Yeah, I’d say if you’ve proved you don’t know how to run a school district”

          By the oh so effective metric of “some educrat’s standards”.

          Fuuuuck that noise.

          1. OK< how about the Chicago Public Schools "metric" - kids "graduate" who are illiterate and innumerate. FAIL.

            1. Um, yeah, that was my point.


              Well, I wouldnt go that far, but you certainly could have done better than to state my exact point and not realize it.

            2. “how about the Chicago Public Schools “metric”

              Um, that’s the metric Jerry was talking about.

              Drink less before you post, it makes you stupid.

    3. So what? Charter schools also take cost out of public schools.

  7. Oh yeah, all the millennials around here (Bay Area) are totally into freedom and liberty and school choice, as evidenced by all the facebook posts I’m seeing praising Betsy Devos.

    Wait…… yeah about that… . Just because I’m a Libertarian ‘millennial’ (I label I hate because I’m nearly 31), doesn’t mean anyone else is

    1. Agreed to an extent. I don’t think Bay Area millennials are representative of millennials as a whole, but I don’t think millennials are as choice friendly and against tradition as Robby insinuates.

      1. In my experience millennials are pretty typical of people in their 20s. They care very much about their own freedom of choice. They haven’t yet connected that preserving their own freedom of choice implies others having freedom of choice as well.

        1. I was highly entertained by watching the recent season of Survivor: GenX vs. Millennials and all it was supposed to “reveal” about the difference between the generations.

          Millennials, being people in their 20s, are of course happy to reflect endlessly on what is uniquely awesome about them vs. those other people from the beforetimes.

          What was even more funny was this universally accepted cultural meme that GenX has this really rugged work ethic, and are always on about responsibility and self-sacrifice.

          I don’t remember GenX being talked about that way when we were in our 20s.

        2. People in their 20’s? You just described the vast majority of people.

    2. Dude, it’s been weird living in progtopia this past week. I’m feeling pretty normal, kind of chipper actually. But among many others they are acting like a close loved one just died. It’s really odd.

    3. [A] label I hate because I’m nearly 31

      Suck it up, snowflake. And shave off that beard.

      1. Holy shit, millenials are in their 30s now? I think you are a Gen Xer, dude. Not sure where the cutoff is, though.

        1. The idea is that millennials were the people who were turning 18 around the turn of the millennium, so the oldest ones were born in 1982. So some of them are now pushing 35.

          Of course, it’s pretty dumb to group wide swathes of people together based on superficial similarities.

          1. I like the 18 year paradigm.

            Baby Boomers: 1945-1963
            GenX: 1964-1982
            Millennials: 1983-2001
            Post 9/11: 2002-2020

            1. “Post 9/11”
              9/11 changed everything.

          2. “The idea is that millennials were the people who were turning 18 around the turn of the millennium”

            I think that’s close but still not right.

            1. I advocate 20 year intervals to keep it fairly simple and in a generation sort of way keeps generic stereotypes together.

              Boomers actually started being born during WWII.
              Boomers: 1945-1965
              Gen X: 1965-1985
              Millennials: 1985-2005
              Gen Zs: 2005-2025

    4. The millennium was either 16 or 17 years ago, depending on whether you use odometer counting or are a pedant.

    5. It all depends. In my social circle, half are progressives. A quarter might be loosely defined as libertarian, and the other quarter don’t care or are just anti establishment or something. They dont really know, but they don’t like whats going on. The most outspoken ones are intelligent libertarians/ancaps or just parroting DU/KOS/Slate.
      I’m 25.

    6. If you’re 31 you’re not a millenial.

  8. These results don’t surprise me, because school choice reflects an important philosophy of millennials:

    This paragraph was a good one. I’m not sure I completely believe it, but it’s good nonetheless.

    1. Should businesses be allowed to refuse customers based on their personal opinions, philosophy, or ideology? “Yes.”

      Should businesses be allowed to discriminate based off of personal views? “No.”

      Gay wedding cakes, the true ideological test.

  9. Re millennials regard to the right to life march: from a conversation I just had with two millennials, apparently the only way to keep abortions from happening is to give away free birth control, and sex ed, etc. Therefore, I’m sure many millennials are into school choice as long someone else pays for it.

      1. one of many things i do not understand which makes me angry because i don’t understand =

        – youtube commenters who simply repeat some @#*&$@ line from the video, and get hundreds of likes
        – where there are other, identical stupid comments repeating single lines from the video (many of which even came before the heavily-liked one) which receive zero, as though somehow that person ‘did it wrong’.

        also, sticks

    1. he only way to keep abortions from happening is to give away free birth control, and sex ed, etc

      This seems to be the latest trope. I had somebody tell me this yesterday, as well. I responded with “If you can’t afford a 50 cent condom, you can’t afford sex.” It pissed them off enough to end the conversation.

      1. Or pick another hole. I thought they had sex ed. Geez.

      2. We need alcohol education along the same lines as sex ed. After all, the teens (and especially the 18-20 year olds) are going to drink anyway, so why not teach them to do it safely?

  10. So I found this article about another neo-nazi who got roughed up.

    This bit jumped out at me:

    The University of Florida administration defended the right of Dewitz to speak on campus, saying he is protected by the freedom of speech. Critics are concerned that giving a platform to white supremacists and fascists only allows them to further disseminate their genocidal ideology, which is not rational and not defeated through discussion.

    So once you declare them irrational, they no longer get free speech. Well, that’s convenient.

    The election of Donald Trump, a demagogue who ran an explicitly racist, anti-Muslim, sexist, and jingoist campaign, has drawn increasing attention to the rise of neo-fascist, white-supremacist movements in the U.S., Europe, and around the world.

    And there you have it.

    1. Oh, I see, it’s like a contagious disease. What do you do with diseased individuals? You quarantine them. I got a feeling the next edition of DSM will have something to say about this.

      1. They quarantine themselves.

        People should be educated enough to know how germs are spread and that it is fucked up to be seriously ill and be okay with getting other people sick.

        1. Thanks for explaining that.

          1. Sorry, I thought your joke was more generic.

    1. the sheriff said that the complainants told their attorney that Braman announced to each of them that he was turning off his body camera for “police tactics” just before he took their cash.

      Well, at least that was true enough.

  11. I hesitate to post this time-lapse video, because you’re going to play Yakkity Sax in your heads while watching it, but it gives some idea of the size of the March for Life.

    1. Just gave away your age, Eddie.

        1. No. Benny Hill is timeless.

          1. Perhaps, but millennials are unlikely to have heard of him, or know the song.

    2. Very poor formation. A couple weeks at Fort Benning aught to clear that up.

      1. Yes, the prolife movement really ought to start marching in paramilitary formation, that will help with public opinion!

        1. You balance that with paper mache heads!

          Geez, no wonder you are never getting anywhere with media. I saw no giant heads!

        2. Don’t call it a march if you’re bad at marching. And your unit flags are a mess.

          3/10. Slightly better than that other “march”.

          1. Do you know who was *good* at marching?

            1. penguins?

    3. The media could not be played.

      There’s something in my computer that does not like Twitter or Facebook links, and who am I to second-guess the wisdom and/or taste of this sophisticated piece of technology?

      1. Skynet became sentient, took a look at Twitter, and ran screaming and whimpering to hide in your computer?

        1. I’m pretty sure any sentient being bent on subduing Mankind would take one look at twitter and say, “Welp, looks like my work is done here”.

    4. Must be a new kind of time-lapse in which there’s only one frame.

      1. The first frame is a still, scroll down for the video.

  12. FedEx just delivered a parcel to my house. The return address says it’s from: One O’ 25 *Snicker Lane*, Aggression City, USA. My wife keeps wailing, “What’s in the box! What’s in the box!”.

    Ok, which one of you remembered my kid’s bday?

    1. Is it a monocle-polishing kit?

      1. I haven’t opened it yet. I hope you’re right.

        1. Is it a leather bound edition of Warty Hugeman?

        2. Is not What’s in the box! a line form a movie?

          1. Indeed, Chuck. Indeed it is.

            1. Yet you wrote that your wife is not only still alive yet very much keen upon your opening the box.


              Now, Sir straffinrun, what was sent your residence?

              Note that if it is something of a personal/marital nature I prefer that you and the lady “default” to privacy.

    2. Be careful. I just went to the Gastroenterologist yesterday and they wanted a stool sample. A stool sample I am supposed to ship to the lab via Fedex.

      1. What was the sperm count?

          1. Did you mean NTTIAWWT? Of course not. It’s just an old joke.

            1. Is it Uncivilservant sock day?

              1. Linky no work? Fuck.
                Lemme try again.

  13. You, like, say you’re prolife, but, like, you’re not for, like big government. How do you, like, explain this obvious contradiction?

    “If pro-life advocates genuinely saw saving unborn children as their top priority, then a significant number of them would also fight for a world in which all women and men can be confident that their children’s future will include education, food, and housing. Many would reject a political platform that cheers taxpayer funding of the military while simultaneously trying to cut health care funding?health care that might allow women to feel secure enough to bring a baby to term. And many would make contraception a central issue, instead of allowing religious prudery to take precedence over the unborn babies they are fighting for.”

    1. I am shocked that Slate endlessly resorts to Reductio ad Socialism

    2. Apparently being pro-life means supporting a system that has killed a hundred million people. Who knew?

  14. It’s not wrong for the United States government to restrict non-Americans to not coming into America. Non-Americans hold no rights or entitlements to America and the American government has no responsibility for them.

  15. A rabbi points out the, like, total hypocrisy of those right-wing prolifers

    “Several thousand people stand to die if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. It is, simply, the outcome if health insurance is taken away from as many as 18 million people?especially if protections for those with pre-existing conditions are removed as part of the deal.

    “In my Talmudic way, I’ve been trying to think of a scenario in which this makes sense to someone who identifies as pro-life, as do Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Mike Pence and Health Secretary nominee Tom Price, as well as many others making this push. But I can’t….

    “To be pro-life now means to be pro?gun control. Thirty-three thousand people are killed annually by gun violence in America. Many of those deaths could be prevented with universal background checks and other regulations.”

    (includes autoplay video)

    1. Eddie, did you ever get laid at one of these events?

      1. No, I had to go to a couple lefty events for that. One of the perks one gives up in leaving the Left, I guess.

        1. Go on….

          1. Let’s see…one was a comsymp demonstration on foreign policy, the other was a “nonpartisan” student group which had a habit of voting for lefty proposals. Let’s just say several propositions were laid on the table.

            1. Coincidentally, I’m reading a book I think I learned of here…Days of Rage by Bryan Burrough.

              It seems that this chick was linked to the word “bang” in more than one sense.

              Here she is today.

              1. You may retire to your bunks now.

              2. Wait, so did you give it to her according to your abilities and according to her needs?

                1. Dohrn? Never had the honor of her acquaintance, anyway, she’s too far up the “evil” end of the hot/evil axis.

  16. Another right-wing prolife hypocrite: Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL):

    “While railing against the right of a woman to choose an abortion, Mr. Aderholt also votes against the Violence Against Women Act, against expanding a health insurance program for children, against increased funding for public schools, and against paid parental leave for federal workers. He opposes every proposal to increase taxes on the wealthy, and the revenue lost through those votes is balanced by support for many measures that cut funding and impose punitive requirements on poor people who receive public benefits.”

  17. Libtard GF: people are going to boycott Uber because Trump owns it!
    Me: More liberal ignorance. “Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk are set to join President Trump’s new economic advisory board.” -cnn
    Trump doesn’t own Uber

  18. Libtard GF:Most of his companies people can’t boycott because they cater to the elite wealthy. Stop hating on people fighting for their democracy. This will all effect you as well my dear. Trump is not your friend.
    We will boycott as much as we can and if uber is kissing cousins with Trump. They will be boycotted.
    Me:So, nobody should try to give Trump good advice? So the only people who will advice him then will be far right people. Yeah, that’s real smart.

    1. “Let’s see, does this couch have a pullout mattress?”

      1. You think I’d live with that Gia worshipping, crystal gazing, hippie? Please.

        1. The sex had better be really good or I don’t know what’s wrong with you.

          1. Eh. Its denver. Most people are somewhere between center and super left. I assume she’s cool talking about almost anything else.

            1. Is this before or after she checks his aura?

          2. I’m lazy. This one already sexes me.
            Also, if I broke up with her she’d cry.

            1. Fair enough. I’ll mail you more whiskey.

              1. You can’t mail liquor across national boundaries. One of the most painful moments of my life is watching my dad pour about five bottles of high quality liquor into the gutter at the Canadian border.

                1. Liberty is dead.

                2. Damn. Why not give them away?

                  1. The border guard ordered us to pour it into the gutter.

                    1. At least they didn’t “confiscate” it for “evidence.”

        2. Don’t want to mock your situation, we’re all looking for happiness in this vale of tears.

        3. What do you have against Gia Carangi, DenverJ?

    2. Libtard GF continues spewing inanities. I stop texting her and drink more whiskey.

      1. Smart play. Good luck tonight! I try hard to avoid politics with my girlfriend.

        1. Smart man. Unless you are one of the lucky ones, like me, who has one that could not care less about politics.

      2. As long as she’s still spewing.

        1. Yeah, thanks for your support, straffin’ *gives the one finger salute*

    3. Glad I stick to hookers.

  19. CalExit apparently got the go ahead to collect signatures on our march to stupidity. On the bright side maybe if the movement gets some steam, the general public might find out how not having the fed out there to bail us out in ten years is going to make us into Venezuela, but most of these morons still think Venezuela is a crown jewel of socialism so I’m not optimistic.

  20. According to a survey released by EdChoice in October, millennials are more in favor of many kinds of school choice reform?charter schools, voucher programs?than older Americans, but only when they are educated about these programs.

    In other words the school choice movement is doomed.

  21. School choice is just letting parents chose which daytime prison to put their kids in for 12 years of their lives and almost everyone one of those educational will be based on what the government decides children should learn and how they should learn it especially if tax funds are used.

    Educational freedom allows real choice as is demonstrated in Texas where compulsory ed laws do not apply to children educated outside the public school system. Choices include tutoring, co-ops, homeschool/school hybrids, unschooling and so much more.

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