Parents are fed up with public schools and how they’ve handled the coronavirus pandemic.
A new poll from RealClear Opinion Research found a large increase in the number of registered voters who support school choice from a similar poll conducted in April 2020, just as the pandemic was beginning. During the pandemic, schools shut down and students were forced to learn remotely, leading to major consequences for mental health and school participation.
The poll, conducted in June with more than 1,762 registered voters, found that 74% of respondents supported school choice, up from 64% in April of last year, reported the American Federation For Children (AFC), a conservative nonprofit.
It wasn’t just Republicans increasing the total support for school choice, Democrats have also become more open to school choice, increasing from 59% to 70% in the past year. Parents with children in public schools increased their support for school choice by 12 points, from 68% in April 2020 to 80% now.
Broken down by race, school choice was supported by 69% of Hispanic voters, 70% of Asian voters, 73% of black voters, and 76% of white voters.
The survey asked a second question that has gained traction during the coronavirus pandemic: “On average, American taxpayers spend $15,946 per student nationwide on K-12 public education. Would you support giving parents a portion of those funds to use for home, virtual, or private education expenses?”
This question of supporting students over systems gained 66% total support across all respondents. The concept was supported by 63% of Hispanic voters, 64% of Asian voters, 66% of white voters, and 73% of black voters, with equal support (66%) from Democrats and Republican voters.
Tommy Schultz, CEO of AFC, released a statement with the poll acknowledging the increase in support for school choice.
“Public support for school choice is at an all-time high. And, as the nation recovers from unprecedented, nationwide school closures, a new story is unfolding. Parents are rising up and demanding the freedom to choose the best educational environment for their children. Thankfully, more and more lawmakers are listening. Already in 2021, seventeen states have passed legislation to improve, expand, or create new school choice programs,” Schultz said. “For thousands of children, this means new opportunity and new hope for a brighter future. While we celebrate these transformative policy wins for kids, the work continues. We at AFC will continue fighting for every child in the country to have access to the American Dream through educational choice and opportunity.”
Democrat politicians, however, continue to oppose school choice. As The Daily Wire reported in March, Kentucky’s Democratic Governor Andy Beshear said he would veto a school choice bill passed by state legislatures. Beshear sends his children to private schools.
“[This measure] represents a direct attack on public education that would significantly weaken our public education system here in Kentucky,” Beshear said of the bill. “State dollars are being diverted away from public schools and educators.”
He also argued that private education institutions (where he sends his children) are not as accountable to families as public institutions.
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