A recent poll shows that public support for school choice --
including vouchers, education savings accounts and online learning
-- has reached an all-time high.
The PDK/Gallup poll shows that demand for school
choice is increasing because parents are more aware of the
opportunities it presents. Plus, Lindsey Burke of The Heritage
Foundation says recent
SAT data shows public schools are failing to adequately teach
kids -- adding urgency to the need for school choice.
"We have polling now that
shows such an increase in support for school choice. Forty-four
percent of respondents that Gallup polled earlier this [year] said
that they were in favor of school choice, of allowing public
dollars to follow children to a private school of their choice,"
Burke relays. "Forty-four percent -- that's a ten-percentage point
increase in just one year."
She suggests the increasing parental support for school choice
is a result of the successes of such programs.
"So I think if parents can make their voices heard at the state
and local level, that's the best possible way that they can help
school choice move forward," the analyst states.
According to Gallup, half of the parents surveyed also favor
tying teacher evaluations to student performance -- something
teachers unions have strongly opposed.
School vouchers on the move in Tennessee
While it appears Tennessee lawmakers are moving to make private
school vouchers a reality in the state, some are frustrated that
they're not moving fast enough.
Jeff Reed of The Friedman Foundation for School Choice
explains that a task force set up by Gov. Bill Haslam's (R) office
has been studying the question of school vouchers for more than a
year, concluding that it is not a question of if vouchers
should be implemented, but when.
"This is certainly a 'when' and 'if' scenario, because as is
being seen in other states that have broad private school choice
programs, they work, and families are better off as a result of
them," Reed notes.
State officials say it could take until 2014 before vouchers
become a reality, but Senator Brian Kelsey (R) vehemently argues
there is no reason to delay. Reed agrees.
"So clearly there are families who I believe, as state Senator
Kelsey mentioned, need choice today," the Foundation's public
relations director asserts. "And to that very point, we would argue
that those freedoms should be made available as soon as
The Friedman Foundation has been working for years with
school-reform advocates in Tennessee to bring about school-choice