New Report Offers Fresh Insight on School Choice Attitudes and Policies

News Category: News Posts

August 29, 2023
Contact: Jonathon Dworkin, 202-660-1340 x5

New Report Offers Fresh Insight on School Choice Attitudes and Policies
NewDEAL releases messaging and policy recommendations from issue-area experts and elected leaders.

Washington D.C. – As students across the country continue to go back to school, more of them are seeing education funds in their states go to private schools as a result of a private school vouchers push by state Republican leaders. To highlight how anti-voucher policymakers should respond with effective policy and politics, NewDEAL has released a briefing providing an overview of public attitudes around the issue and recommendations for school choice policy and messaging. The report’s findings stem from a recent virtual convening that brought together members of the NewDEAL network of state and local leaders from across the country, including New Hampshire House Minority Leader Matt Wilhelm and Georgia State Representative Phil Olaleye, along with experts from Democrats for Education Reform (DFER).

“Embracing public school choice can help remind parents, and all voters, that Democrats value high-quality education for every child,” said Debbie Cox Bultan, CEO of NewDEAL. “At a time when the Republican education agenda consists of education welfare for the wealthiest among us, as well as efforts like extremist book bans that fan the flames of our culture wars, Democrats have the opportunity to remind the public which party has allchildren’s best interests at heart.”

From polling to best practices, this report provides support for policymakers fighting for real school choice, including traditional and public charter schools. Experts emphasize the importance of engaging in discussions about school choice, forming coalitions with unlikely partners, cutting through the noise of unproductive cultural war debates, and prioritizing the real needs of teachers, families, and students.

Read the full report here.

This report highlights findings and recommendations about school choice legislation and public opinion, including:

  • Public charter schools are popular across key constituencies with 65 percent of all respondents in a recent DFER poll and 72 percent of Democratic voters favoring public charter schools. Voters of color in particular view them favorably.

  • Voters favor new ideas rather than simply more funding. Many parents wish to see more policy solutions that emphasize quality control rather than funding increases exclusively.

  • Public school choice options are viewed more favorably than private vouchers and highlight the inequities of voucher systems.

    • New Hampshire's voucher program has gone over budget with significant resources going to students who were already enrolled in private schools or homeschooled.

  • Democratic policymakers ought to rebuild trust with parents and students and take control of the debate on education in part by supporting public school choice measures and initiatives. Fighting back against efforts to fund private institutions with taxpayer dollars also presents the opportunity to reach across the aisle and build coalitions with parties that aren’t always aligned.

    • A private school choice expansion bill in Georgia was voted down despite unified Republican control of the legislature and governor’s office. Common cause brought together a coalition of Democratic and conservative rural policymakers who were concerned about taking away funding from public schools that serve as hubs in their communities.

“The choice versus no choice debate has been had, that debate’s been settled. Choice won, and choice resonates deeply. And now what we say is the new battleline is the form of choice that Republicans are offering, private school choice, and the form of choice that Democrats are offering, or that we hope we more fully embrace and offer, is public school choice,” said DFER CEO Jorge Elorza.

If you would like more information about the DFER public opinion survey, conducted with Emerson Polling and involving 1,000 registered voters, click here.

About NewDEAL

The NewDEAL is a national network of rising state and local elected leaders who are pro-growth progressives. Our mission is to bring together leaders focused on expanding opportunity and to help them develop and spread innovative ideas to spur economic growth that is broadly-earned and sustainable. We do this by connecting NewDEAL Leaders with each other to exchange ideas, and connecting them with other pro-growth progressive political, policy, and private sector leaders.