While reading through the Friedman Foundation’s recent poll on Minnesota K-12 education and school choice, questions 8 and 9 caught my attention. These questions asked respondents to state their preferred school type, and then asked the reason why they would choose that form of schooling.

As the above chart shows, many parents would choose a private school for their child if they had the opportunity and resources.

Such a result really isn’t all that surprising. What did surprise me, however, was the difference in reasons given for choice of schooling.

Those who would choose a charter, private, or home school largely expressed a desire for better education or an enhanced instruction setting.

Yet better education was not the prominent selection feature for those who would choose public school. Instead, “diversity/variety” and “socialization/peers/other kids” were the prominent reasons for choosing to attend public school.

Are such results telling? Are public schools no longer considered places of academic learning, even by those who would choose and willingly support them?

Last I checked, the purpose of education is not to be socialized, nor is it to learn diversity. Instead, as Dorothy Sayers once noted, “The sole true end of education is simply this: to teach men how to learn for themselves; and whatever instruction fails to do this is effort spent in vain.”

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