K-12 Public Education through the Public Eye: Parents’ Perceptions of School Choice (2011)

The Scott S. Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives has released the results of its third annual public opinion poll called K-12 Public Education through the Public’s Eye: Parents’ Perceptions of School Choice. The opinion poll surveyed parents of students in New Orleans public schools to assess their experiences in the open enrollment system and their perceptions of the availability of information on public schools and public school options. Giving a voice to parents on issues such as the availability of information and the ease of the enrollment process is crucial to creating structures and systems that ensure equitable access to high-quality public schools for all students in New Orleans.  Click here to read an analysis of the poll results.

Key Findings of the 2011 Survey of Public School Parents

  • Parent perception of public schools in New Orleans has become increasingly positive: 66 percent of parents surveyed in 2011 felt that schools are better after Hurricane Katrina, compared to 31 percent of parents surveyed in 2009.
  • The majority of parents surveyed in 2011 (90 percent) strongly agreed that it is important to be able to choose their child’s school, up from 81 percent in 2009.
  • 86 percent of parents surveyed in 2011 agreed that information on school options is readily available, up from 62 percent in 2009.
  • Over two-thirds of parents reported applying to only one school. This was true for parents of students at both RSD and OPSB schools.
  • Nearly all parents said they value a school’s academic performance, faculty and staff, and safety and discipline when choosing their child’s school.
  • The factors influencing school selection varied between low-income families and higher income families.  Low-income parents placed relatively more importance on the school’s proximity to home, the availability of transportation and after-school care or extended day programs, and the recommendations of friends and family.
  • 82 percent of parents felt it was important that their child be able to attend their neighborhood school, though just 27 percent said that their child’s school is less than one mile from home.
  • Parents of students with special education needs seemed to be less pleased with the enrollment process than other parents. They were more likely to disagree that information on school options is readily available and more likely to have plans to change schools next year.


This is the third year the Cowen Institute has provided the community a platform to express their opinions about public education.  The third annual public opinion poll was conducted by phone during October and November, 2011 by Market Research Insight on behalf of the Cowen Institute. The sample population consisted of 349 randomly selected registered voters in Orleans Parish that are also parents of a public school student; the sample was representative of the racial, ethnic, and income distribution of the city. To download the full survey results, click here.

Previous Cowen Institute Opinion Polls

Click here for information on the 2009 opinion poll.

Click here for information on the 2010 opinion poll.

Please contact Debra Vaughan with any questions at dvaughan@tulane.edu or by calling 504-274-3659.

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