BY BOWEN XIAO
A new nationwide opinion poll on education policy released by Education Next shows growing support for a number of initiatives, namely school choice, and vouchers.
The findings of the 13th annual Education Next survey are based on a nationally representative sample of 3,046 adults. The pollsters identified 10 major findings.
The first key discovery highlighted how support for vouchers that help low-income students afford private-school tuition rose to 49 percent; in 2016, support for these vouchers was 37 percent. At the same time, support for tax credits for donations to organizations that give scholarships to low-income students grew to 58 percent, from 53 percent previously.
Public support for charter schools also increased to 48 percent from a low of 39 percent in 2017. For Republicans, 61 percent currently support charter schools, while among Democrats, 40 percent do.
Pollsters noted that the respondents of the survey include “an oversampling of teachers, African Americans, and those who identify themselves as Hispanic.”
Support for increasing wages for teachers also reached the highest point since 2008. For those that were provided information on state salary levels, 56 percent said teachers’ salaries should be higher. The percentage represents a 20 point jump over the approval level two years ago. For those who weren’t provided any salary information, 72 percent said salaries should increase, 5 points higher than the results in 2018.
In an Aug. 20 statement reacting to the poll, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos called the findings “no surprise to those of us who believe in students and trust parents and teachers.”
“American families want more control and more options when it comes to education, which is why every poll conducted shows the growing, bipartisan support for education freedom. This research is just the latest indication that voices of America’s parents are growing louder in demanding something other than a government-assigned, union-controlled school for their children,” she said.
“Behind each percentage point in the column for education freedom is the face of another forgotten voter who has been taken for granted for far too long. I hear it from students who want to learn more and learn differently, but are constrained by their assigned school building.”
DeVos has asked Congress for a “$5 billion annual federal tax credit for voluntary donations to state-based scholarship programs.” The initiative is called “Education Freedom Scholarships.”
According to its official website, the proposal “would empower students and families to choose the best educational setting for them—regardless of where they live, how much they make, and how they learn,” according to a fact sheet.
In her statement, DeVos references that proposal and described it as a rational solution. She added that Congress would be “wise to heed the call of America’s families.”
“Clearly, our Education Freedom Scholarships proposal is the solution American families want. This common-sense approach puts students and parents in control, without taking a single cent from public schools or teachers,” she said.
“It’s time opponents of education freedom tamped down their overheated political rhetoric and instead focused on improving student outcomes. They should take note that this poll shows students rank the quality of their own schools lower than anyone else does.”
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