June 24, 2022

Why Political Candidates Should Support School Choice

Eacademic freedom was on a roll last year.

More than 20 educational choices programs were created or expanded in 18 states. This involves the creation of approximately 1.5 million additional education savings accounts, tax credit scholarships and vouchers made available. No group deserves more credit for these legislative victories than the students and families who defended them.

Yet, many The politicians continue to oppose similar programs. Reasons include pressure from teachers’ unions and the belief that opposing school choice will help re-election bids. However, politicians who oppose school choice are making a mistake on the political front. Denying families access to educational options is increasingly politically dangerous.

According to the last vote from the American Children’s Federation, political candidates who send their children to private school but oppose school choice for other families face an electorate 62% less likely to vote for them. Additionally, lower levels of support for applicants who exercise school choice for their own children but deny access to other children are bipartisan. Fifty-six percent of Democratic voters are less likely to support candidates who practice “choose school for me but not for you.” Republican voters oppose these candidates at a higher rate of 66%.

No wonder we see these statistics. Denying education options based on nothing but family income is unfair. Every parent should have the power to choose how their child is educated, regardless of income, background or who represents them politically.

Choice education policies such as education savings accounts (special accounts that allow parents to spend funds otherwise earmarked for their child’s public school for education-related expenses) have become very popular with voters. According to the American Children’s Federation, 74% of voters support giving parents the right to use taxpayer dollars earmarked for their child’s education to send their child to public or private school.

Nevertheless, political candidates should not support school choice simply for electoral reasons. School choice policies have been proven to provide higher rates of perceived securityparental satisfaction and schooling results among the students. One study even shows that school choice significantly reduces mental health problems.

Forcing families to attend public schools leaving them with no other options, especially during a pandemic, is illogical and immoral. Politicians better jump on the school choice bandwagon. Soon it will become political career suicide to deny families, especially low-income families, the education options they deserve.

Cooper Conway is a contributor to Young Voices and a Frank Church Scholar at Boise State University Honors College, where he studies political science. Follow him on Twitter @CooperConway1.