Tina Cheuk

Graduate School of Education

Attitudes on public education and school choice


The rising growth of charter schools and the recent rhetoric on vouchers have caused tensions for those who advocate for public education. There hasn’t been major scholarly research that examines attitudes of the electorate in these three related issues (i.e. charter schools, vouchers for religious and private schools, and public schools). In a recent August 2016 Education Next poll regarding public support for charter school, there was a 17-point difference in general public support when respondents were given additional information about charter schools (i.e. from 34% to 51%). In a related set of questions about vouchers, support ranged from 36% to 50% when provided with framing cues related to family income and choice. In the most recent PDK poll (2016), the support for school choice was found to be inversely related to the perception of quality of local and national public schools.

While these findings suggest rising support for school choice, no empirical analysis has parsed these data to understand what is driving this support. A better understanding of school choice options (i.e. charters and vouchers) could help educators to develop more effective communication strategies in support of public schools. The proposed work seeks to understand public attitudes on school choice related issues. I’m particularly interested in how income and school type (e.g. public, private, religious) as well as knowledge about these school types influence public support for school choice policies such as charters and vouchers.