Support for school choice is at an all-time high, according to this year’s PDK/Gallup Poll, released just this morning.
Forty-four percent of Americans now favor allowing students to choose a private school to attend at public expense. School choice favorability has jumped 10 percentage points since last year, a sign that the proliferation of options such as vouchers, education savings accounts, and online learning is creating a welcome choice for families across the country.
The poll, the 44th one that PDK/Gallup has conducted using the same questions, measures Americans’ attitudes toward the public education system in the U.S. It is “unique and significant because its longitudinal data documents important changes in American opinions about education over time.” In addition to the significant growth in support for school choice, PDK/Gallup also found that:
- More than half of respondents favor tying teacher evaluations to student performance on tests.
- When asked, “In your opinion, which is more important for the federal government to do in the next five years—balance the federal budget or improve the quality of the education system in the nation?” 60 percent of respondents favored balancing the federal budget.
- Nationally, only 12 percent of respondents would give the public schools a letter grade of “A.” Thirty-six percent would award the nation’s public schools a grade of “B,” 31 percent “C,” 13 percent “D,” and 4 percent responded that our nation’s public schools deserve an “F.”
Now more than ever, parents seem to want more school choice options. They want to evaluate teachers based on performance and restrain federal education spending. As children head back to school this fall, it’s a message that policymakers should embrace.
A few days prior to the PDK/Gallup poll, Gallup released the results of a separate survey of Americans’ views toward No Child Left Behind (NCLB). According to Gallup, “more Americans think [NCLB]…has made education worse rather than better, by 29% to 16%.”
Of those who consider themselves very familiar with the law, 48 percent believe it has made education worse.
These surveys of American families’ opinions on education should inform policymakers’ thinking on issues such as federal intervention in education and school choice. Americans believe that federal education intervention through bureaucratic laws such as NCLB has failed to improve outcomes. It’s one more reason federal policymakers should work to restore federalism in education by devolving dollars and decision-making to the state and local level through proposals like A-PLUS.
State policymakers should work to ensure that parents have a wide array of educational options available to them and can facilitate the expansion of school choice by empowering families with control over their share of education funding. Options like the education savings accounts implemented in Arizona, statewide vouchers in effect in Louisiana, and tuition tax credits benefitting children in Florida provide families with greater control over education—something more and more parents are expressing they want.