POLL: Support for School Choice Spiked 10 Percent among Public School Families during COVID Shutdown

A grade six classroom awaits students at Hunter’s Glen Junior Public School in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, September 14, 2020. (Nathan Denette/Reuters)

As the coronavirus pandemic keeps many schools shuttered and forces parents to consider other options for their children’s education, support for school choice has spiked among parents of children who attend public school.

Since April, support for the concept of school choice jumped ten points from 67 percent to 77 percent among parents who have children in public school, according to a new RealClear Opinion Research poll.

Notably, support for choice is at a similarly high level across party lines and ethnicities.

About 72 percent of Democrats, 76 percent of Republicans, and 73 percent of Independents support giving parents a portion of the funds taxpayers spend per student on K-12 public education to use for home, virtual, or private education if public schools do not reopen for in-person classes. About 80 percent of public school parents said they supported that proposal.

Slightly more public school parents, 78 percent, said they would support their governor sending the recent coronavirus emergency federal funding for education directly to families and allowing them to choose how to spend it in support of their child’s education.

About 70 percent of white families as well as 70 percent of black families said they support the concept of school choice generally, according to the poll. Support is at 68 percent among both Hispanic and Asian families.

“This polling data shows one of the most astounding short-term jumps in support for educational choice policies. Clearly, families are incredibly frustrated at the district schools’ response to this crisis and are tired of the months and months of fumbles,” said John Schilling, president of the American Federation of Children, a school choice advocacy group.

“It could not be more clear that families are desperate for other options and will support governors and other policymakers as they pursue policies that let them control their child’s education funding,” Schilling said.

The RealClear poll surveyed 2,020 registered voters from August 19 to 21 and has a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points.

Another RealClear poll in April also found that 40 percent of families say they are more likely to homeschool their children after lockdown measures are lifted.

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