“Yes” for Public School Choice, “No” for Vouchers

Conservatives aren’t giving up on their plans to destroy the public school system. Their weapon of choice: Vouchers that would allow parents to use public money to send their kids to private school. The result, as they well know, would be to suck money out of the already underfunded public school system and undercut the system’s ability to provide quality education. That would lead to even more students and money leaving the system, which would further worsen the situation—and so the downward spiral would go.

This conservative policy dream has a serious problem, though: The public can see where vouchers would lead, and they oppose them for that reason. In the latest version of the annual Gallup/Phi Delta Kappa education poll the public opposes "allowing students and parents to choose a private school to attend at public expense" by almost 2:1 (65-34).

the public opposes allowing students and parents to choose a private school to attend at public expense

But the public does support choice in the public school system provided it’s among public schools themselves. By an overwhelming 74-25 margin the public thinks students and parents should be able to choose which public school in their community they attend "regardless of where they live."

the public thinks students and parents should be able to choose which public school in their community they attend "regardless of where they live."

If conservatives want to do something productive for a change they could help craft the policies that would make public school choice available and feasible across the country instead of pursuing their quixotic quest to destroy the public school system with vouchers.

Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. To learn more about his public opinion analysis go to the Media and Progressive Values page and the Progressive Studies program page of our website.