Survey says: Support for school choice surges as schools start

The 2020 school year is underway, but not all public school parents are pleased with district schools’ choice of learning model, causing support for school choice to surge. According to a recent survey of 2,020 registered voters conducted by RealClear Opinion Research, 77 percent of families with children in public schools support the concept of school choice. This support is up 10 percentage points since a similar survey was given in April.

After being told that American taxpayers spend $15,424 per student nationwide on K-12 education, respondents were asked whether they would “support or oppose giving parents a portion of those funds to use for home, virtual, or private education if public schools do not reopen for in-person classes.” Eighty percent of public school parents, 72 percent of Democrats, 76 percent of Republicans, and 73 percent of Independents were in support.

Additionally, respondents were asked whether they would support the governor of their state sending new federal K-12 funding “directly to families and allowing them to choose how to use those funds to support their child’s education.” Seventy-eight percent of public school parents, 68 percent of Republicans, 68 percent of Independents, and 66 percent of Democrats were in support.

Some governors have already approved using the coronavirus emergency education aid to fund students, not systems, so that families can purchase education technology and materials or access a learning environment that works best for their child. Governor Walz could do something similar here in Minnesota through Education Savings Accounts, as I have written about here. This would be a solution to a variety of education concerns parents have—whether they are health related or academic.

“The inflexibility of our K-12 system is on full display, leaving families to scramble as the special interests that have controlled our public education system for generations continue to oppose giving families and students greater educational choice,” said John Schilling, president of the American Federation for Children. “It could not be more clear that families are desperate for other options and will support governors and other policymakers as they pursue policies that let them control their child’s education funding.”