Shout It From The Rooftop: We Need More School Choice Net Promoters

Nov 26, 2019 · 3 min read

By Jennifer Wagner

Welcome to the golden age of influence.

Some of us are new to it. Others are growing up in it. We’re all going to have to adapt to it. Take a look at this recent Morning Consult data from a survey of more than 2,000 interviews with 13–38 year-olds who were asked about trusted advice on brands or products:

We’ve known for some time that school choice is a generational issue. Last summer, GenForward released a survey of 18–34 year-olds that included their views on means-tested and universal vouchers. Support was high for both, especially within communities of color:

So we know Millennials and Gen Z get their information differently than other generations, and we know they’re supportive of school choice. Now it’s time to marry those two realities.

We’ve done a good job as a movement of finding and sharing stories about how school choice personally affects the families who are able to use it, but if we want to reach younger audiences, we need to do a better job of figuring out how those stories get shared.

Big idea: Think tanks and advocacy groups are not the right messengers. We need more Net Promoters.

The Net Promoter System was introduced in 2003 to measure “how well an organization treats the people whose lives it affects — how well it generates relationships worthy of loyalty.”

It’s not very complicated:

Customers are surveyed on one single question. They are asked to rate on an 11-point scale the likelihood of recommending the company or brand to a friend or colleague. “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this company’s product or service to a friend or a colleague?” Based on their rating, customers are then classified in 3 categories: detractors, passives and promoters.

There are those who question whether something so basic can effectively measure whether someone will engage in or adopt a particular product or behavior. Maybe it’s oversimplified, but it’s not like people are putting a lot of stock in the other options.

According to Gallup polling in September of this year, American trust in mass media is just a tick above 40 percent, with just 13 percent saying they trust the media “a great deal.” Gallup’s historical tracking data on institutional trust shows that currently only 11 percent of Americans have confidence in Congress, 23 percent have confidence in big business, 30 percent have confidence in banks and 24 percent have confidence in the criminal justice system.

Some institutions, such as small business and the military, enjoy much higher levels of confidence, but we basically have turned into a nation of skeptics.

Which means successful issue advocacy — in our case, getting more people to understand and embrace school choice — must become very, very personal.

It’s not enough for me to tell you that you should choose using someone else’s story. I have to tell you my story. If you trust that I’m being authentic, that might sway you to do something differently.

Gen Z and Millennial parents become school choice Net Promoters when they share their personal K-12 journeys with friends and family.

And that brings us back up to the top of this post and why younger generations trust friends and family, reviews and social influencers more than celebrities or general brand promotion: authenticity.

As more and more Millennials and Gen Zs become parents, we need to better understand how they make decisions and not be afraid to change our ways to convince them that choice — something they’ve come to expect in every other part of their lives — is something they also should expect in K-12 education.

Jennifer Wagner is a mom, a recovering political hack and the Vice President of Communications for EdChoice, a national nonprofit that supports and promotes universal school choice.

Advancing universal K-12 educational choice as the best pathway to successful lives and a stronger society.


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