New Poll: Most Americans Back Parental Choice in Education

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

A vast majority of American voters support the idea of parents being given the choice of where to send their kids to school, and the notion is even more popular among traditional Democrat groups like millennials, Latinos, and African-Americans.

When asked, “generally speaking, would you say you favor or oppose the concept of school choice?” 68 percent of Americans likely to vote in 2018 say yes. A recent American Federation for Children poll describes school choice as giving “parents the right to use the tax dollars associated with their child’s education to send their children to the public or private school which better serves their needs.” While 68 percent agree with the idea, a full 40 percent strongly support school choice.

But the numbers are even more surprising among the traditional Democrat bastions of Latinos, millennials, and black people. A full three quarters of Latinos (75 percent) support school choice, while only 19 percent oppose it.  A vast majority of African-Americans (72 percent) also back the idea. Seventy-five percent of millennials also support school choice, the highest percent of any generation.

In spite of the tense partisan divides in America today, school choice retains majority support across party lines. Parental choice in education receives the support of 84 percent of Republicans (up from 80 percent last year),67 percent of independents, and 55 percent of Democrats (down from 65 percent last year).

In addition to the general idea of school choice, most Americans also backed specific proposals. Eighty-three percent support special needs scholarships, and 55 percent strongly support them. Seventy-four percent support public charter schools, 73 percent back scholarship tax credits, and 69 percent favor Education Savings Accounts (ESAs). A slim majority (51 percent) also support “school vouchers to allow individual parents to use public funds to pay for tuition at private or religious schools.”

Millennials outperform all other adults on each of these proposals. A full 80 percent of young people back ESAs, for instance. But Latinos also back them by a large margin (76 percent), and more heavily than they did last year (71 percent).

Two more proposals, being pushed on the federal level, also enjoy majority support among the electorate. A federal scholarship tax credit, a proposal introduced in Congress, enjoys the support of 72 percent of voters. President-elect Donald Trump’s specific $20 billion school choice proposal is supported by 51 percent of voters, with 35 percent against and 14 percent undecided.

Almost all voters prefer vouchers in some form, according to the poll. Ninety percent of likely voters think some sort of vouchers and tax credit scholarships should be available in some form, including 34 percent who think they should be available to all students regardless of household income.

When the poll’s authors altered the language and added multiple responses, support increased to 92 percent who say some form of vouchers should be available with only 8 percent arguing that no students should be eligible for them. Sixty-three percent say that all students should be eligible to receive them.

The survey was conducted between January 2 and January 5, 2017, among 1,100 Americans likely to vote in the November 2018 elections. The base sample margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percent.

This poll confirms the broad support for school choice, as championed by Trump’s choice for secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos.

Recently, two black leaders have championed DeVos. “She’s not African American, but she’s concerned about our children,” declared Dr. Dwight Montgomery, president of the Memphis Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and pastor of Annesdale Cherokee MBC. A former superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools, Howard Fuller, Ph.D., declared that “Betsy DeVos understand the importance of parent choice, particularly for low-income and working-class families.”

“I know Betsy DeVos will be a great Secretary of Education, and I enthusiastically endorse her,” Democrat and former two-term mayor of Washington D.C., Anthony Williams, said in a video released Tuesday. He praised her efforts to enact Washington, D.C.’s opportunity scholarship program. Today, “90 percent of opportunity scholarship students are graduating from high school, and 90 percent of them are attending college. It’s an amazing success story,” Williams declared. Of DeVos, he said “she’ll always fight for what’s best for the kids.”

Nevertheless, liberals have unleashed many harebrained attempts to discredit and slander DeVos. They have called her an elitist, unfit for the job, an opponent of public schools, and even racist. They have denounced her as a religious extremist. Some even attacked her as a supporter of child labor. None of these attacks are true, and none will prevent DeVos from being seen as the champion of parental choice in education that she truly is.

Americans can see through these false attacks, and most of them support the idea of school choice when it is explained to them in full.