By Daniel Stefanski |
Americans’ support for school choice is on the rise.
A recent poll from Real Clear Opinion Research showed that school choice has the support of 71% of the 1,000 registered voters who participated in that survey. This number was a seven-point increase from an April 2020 poll.
In this June 27-30 poll, support for school choice came from 80% of Republican voters, 66% of Democrat voters, and 69% of Independent voters. Though the Republican and Democrat support was up from April 2020, the 9% increase in favor from Independents was the most among the political parties.
The question presented to voters on the survey was as follows: “School choices gives parents the right to use the tax dollars designated for their child’s education to send their child to the public or private school which best serves their needs. Generally speaking, would you say you support or oppose the concept of school choice?”
The CEO of American Federation for Children, Tommy Schultz, lauded the news about the growing support for school choice around the country, saying, “School choice support is here to stay, and politicians who ignore this reality do so at their own peril. Parents are the new interest group in town, and legislators would be wise to keep responding to their needs. The days of the old one-size-fits-all model are numbered, welcome news for the countless students who need something different to learn and thrive. AFC is thrilled to continue standing behind parents as they gain more options for their children’s education.”
Arizona has been at the front lines of the surge in school choice support. Last year, the Republican-led Legislature passed a historic expansion of the state’s Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) Program, allowing any child in K-12 to apply. According to a June 30 update from the Executive Director of the ESA Program, Christine Accurso, 62,005 Arizona students have now been enrolled.
That same update also showed that the program, under the direction of Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne, had largely caught up with the backlog and influx of reimbursements to ESA account holders. As of June 30, the ESA Program only had 1,195 Reimbursement Orders in the queue – down from 24,409 on February 8.
When asked about the increasing support for school choice in Arizona and around the nation, Superintendent Horne told AZ Free News, “We have a lot of excellent public schools in Arizona. But no matter how good a public school is, it may not be able to meet the needs of all students. Rich parents have always had the ability to choose the best school to meet the needs of each of their children and people at all economic levels should have the same ability. In addition, competition improves public schools. The United States has been prosperous, and the Soviet Union was poor, because we had competition which drives people to do their best, while they were a government monopoly. As they used to say in Poland, ‘We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us.’ The same applies in education. Competition causes everyone to do better.”
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.