When it comes to school choice, most Americans agree… More is Better.
Across political lines, racial lines, religious lines and socio-economic lines – most Americans support expanding school choice for parents. Yet, for some reason the Democrat Party (in general) continues to battle against the idea that more choice means better education for everyone.
Sure, there are a few liberal education professionals who are leading the fight for more school choice – but by-and-large it is conservative politicians who are pushing the boundaries of school choice further and further along. Leaders like Bobby Jindal (R-LA), Rick Scott (R-FL) and Mike Pence (R-IN) are expanding school choice as fast they can in their home states.
The obvious truth is that the only people fighting against expanded school choice are unions… and so Democrat politicians are fighting it too. Hopefully a few more polls like this one will wake them up…
School choice is a political winner, and a decisive one at that, according to a new poll released Thursday by the American Federation for Children, a school choice advocacy group.
When asked whether they supported “school choice,” a policy defined as allowed parents to use their children’s educational tax dollars to attend a public or private school of their choice, a whopping 69 percent of likely voters said they were supportive, including 45 percent who said they were strong supporters. Only 27 percent identified as opponents of school choice.
Deborah Beck, whose company designed the poll, noted that support was broadly distributed, as every observed subgroup had some kind of majority support for school choice. Republicans unsurprisingly were especially supportive of school choice, with 81 percent approving of it. Sixty percent of Democrats also backed school choice.
Every racial group polled supported school choice, with blacks especially supportive despite being heavily Democratic. Even a majority of teachers said they backed school choice, although their margin was the smallest of any subgroup, with barely 50 percent favorable.
Similarly, most different approaches to school choice won strong endorsements. Over 80 percent of those polled favored giving vouchers to special education students so parents could choose the programs they liked best, and 76 percent supported the establishment of public charter schools.
Even the most controversial form of school choice, “opportunity scholarships” that allow ordinary students to use taxpayer money to attend private schools, enjoyed the support of 63 percent of people.
The poll also asked respondents to evaluate six different arguments used to attack school vouchers, such as claims vouchers violate the separation of church and state or spread public education resources too thin. Every single one of the arguments had a majority dismiss them as unconvincing,
Kevin Chavous, a former Washington D.C. city councilman and and executive counsel for AFC, said the findings were a warning to his fellow Democrats. While Republicans have eagerly embraced school choice, he said, the Democratic Party risks damaging itself in 2016 and beyond if many of its candidates and lawmakers remain skeptical of it.
“It is abundantly clear that support for educational choice runs clearly across party and socioeconomic lines,” said Chavous.” It is very important for Democratic candidates for office to understand they need to listen to their constitutents and they ned to do what they can to support educational choice initiatives.”
The survey was conducted from Jan. 14-18, and had a sample size of 1,800 likely 2016 voters. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.