Survey: Most Lawmakers Support School Choice
In September, Ed Choice, formerly known as the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, released the results of a survey questioning state legislators about their views on various aspects of education and choice programs. Key takeaways from the survey include legislators’ overall support for educational choice programs, divergence between general public opinion and legislators’ when it comes to selecting a particular choice program, and the importance of grassroots constituent communication in formulating legislators’ views on education.
Like the general public, the majority of legislators support educational choice programs. Education savings accounts, vouchers, and public charter schools received 61 percent, 52 percent and 67 percent support, respectively. Interestingly, legislators are less likely to support vouchers than the general public, but substantially more likely to support charter schools. Legislators are also more likely to think that education is heading in the “right direction” in their states than the general public, which is more pessimistic about the education system.
The survey also underscores the importance of grassroots advocacy and parent voices in convincing legislators to support choice. Respondents to the survey, predictably, trusted their personal contacts the most when it came to learning about K-12 issues. However, 65 percent of legislators reported communications with constituents as a “highly trustworthy” source of information, with constituent voices coming in as the second most highly-trusted after personal contacts.
Hopefully these findings will encourage parents to turn up the dial on civic engagement and get to know their state legislators. If past public polling is any indication, more public engagement on the issue can only help the cause of educational choice.