School Choice Options Becomes More Popular When People Know What They Are
Do you like the AAA? That probably depends on whether you’re thinking of the American Automobile Association, the Amateur Athletic Association, or an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Without additional information, you may not give an accurate answer. The same seems to be true when asking about education-related terms.
In a May 2021 national poll about education, parents were asked two times if they supported education savings accounts (ESAs), school vouchers, and charter schools. The first time, parents were just given the name of each program, and each of these policies received less than 50 percent support (44 percent for ESAs, 40 percent for school vouchers, and 47 percent for charter schools).
The second time, the poll included a brief description of each policy. Suddenly support grew to over 60 percent for all three policies (69 percent for ESAs, 62 percent for school vouchers, and 62 percent for charter schools). It seems that once parents understood what these policies meant, many changed their minds.
Without explanations, perhaps some confuse charter schools with snooty private schools or have no idea what ESAs are. But with just a brief explanation, many parents saw these policies as providing value and opportunity for students.
Educating ourselves and others on education policy topics such as ESAs, school vouchers, and charter schools can help people make more informed decisions. I’d encourage you to check out (and share!) the Show-Me Institute researchers’ explanations of each of these topics (such as this infographic on various school choice policies). Sometimes, a brief explanation is enough to make a difference.