NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Support for School Choice

January 14, 2014

School choice supporters have a lot of work to do before school choice policies can be implemented on a widespread basis, says Dick Carpenter, a professor at University of Colorado -- Colorado Springs.

  • Respondents in Carpenter's study rated smaller class sizes, more technology and greater accountability ahead of school choice as the best ways to improve schools.
  • These are structural, status-quo reform options.
  • This, combined with the fact that the same respondents rated public schools somewhere between "poor" and "fair," indicates that school choice supporters need to overcome an ideology that largely supports traditional public school models.

In general, however, public choice -- most often in reference to charter schools -- has been viewed favorably in nationwide school choice polls.

  • Support for charter schools usually sits around 43 percent.
  • Notably, however, this does not mean that there is 57 percent opposition.
  • In fact, support for charter schools is usually twice the percentage of opposition to charter schools.
  • The remainder of people in these polls have no opinion.

When survey respondents were given six different school choice options, they most favored tax credits and least favored low-income vouchers. There were only minor differences among the remaining types of choice.

Most participants who favored school choice options did so for one of three reasons -- freedom, competition and equality -- with freedom being the most common.

Source: Dick M. Carpenter, "School Choice Signals: Research Review and Survey Experiments," Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, January 7, 2014.


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