The millennial generation – roughly defined as those born in the 1980s
and 1990s – have now surpassed the Baby Boomers as America’s largest
At over 75 million strong and still growing, millennials are
dramatically changing the face of America. Having come of age in a world
where internet access is widely available and mobile phones the norm, this
generation’s expectations about speed, flexibility, and transparency have
shaped their views on consumer brands and major institutions.
Millennial views on America’s education system are no exception. Millennials overwhelmingly believe that
access to quality education is the most important factor in determining if someone is able to get ahead in
life, and believe that access is heavily determined by parental finances or zip code.
Millennials believe that our public school system needs big changes, and think that creativity and flexibility
are important to ensuring every student has a school that meets their needs. While they are not deeply
familiar with the concepts like school choice or public charter schools, they are open to giving parents
greater influence over where their children go to school, and to let public charter schools operate in a
different way than traditional public schools. At the same time, they are divided on what the main purpose
of public schools should be, and are less open to sweeping changes in how teachers are evaluated and
Millennials engage with our public school system in a variety of ways. First, most millennials are
themselves products of the public school system, and their views are informed by their own experiences
as students. Additionally, millennials are now a large portion of the teaching workforce, with most new
teachers coming from this generation.2 Finally, millennials are having children of their own – the vast
majority of babies born today are born to millennial moms – and are beginning to engage with the public
school system as parents.