by Dr. Terry Stoops
Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
The annual Education Next poll is good news for school choice advocates. According to the AP,
Forty-four percent of respondents in the poll conducted in May said they support the expansion of charter schools, compared to 39 percent in 2017. The gain of 5 percentage points, however, did not fully offset the drop in support from 51 percent in 2016.
When broken down according to party affiliation, 57 percent of Republicans and 36 percent of Democrats voiced support for charter schools, compared to 47 percent of Republicans and 34 percent of Democrats in 2017.
Complete results from the poll are available here.
Interestingly, the walkouts in North Carolina and other states may have led to increases in support for higher teacher salaries and education spending. According to the researchers who conducted the survey,
Is this upsurge of support for better teacher pay a consequence of this spring’s labor unrest? Residents of states that experienced strikes or walkouts are more enthusiastic about raising teacher salaries than those living elsewhere. Sixty-three percent of respondents in the six states listed above favor increasing teacher pay, as compared to 47% elsewhere. This difference was also present, but was less pronounced, in 2017: 47% of respondents in states that would later experience strikes or walkouts favored boosting teacher salaries, as compared to 38% elsewhere. In other words, support for a pay hike jumped by 16 percentage points in states that experienced labor unrest, but it also rose by 9 percentage points elsewhere.
If the strikes and walkouts did in fact contribute to the changes in opinion, their impact was not confined to the states in which the actions occurred. Moreover, those six states appear to have been fertile ground for an effort to raise teacher pay, with residents more likely to support such an effort, even in 2017. These higher levels of approval could reflect the fact that each of the states ranks in the bottom 10 nationally in terms of teacher compensation.
As in the case of teacher salaries, residents of states that experienced a strike or walkout are more likely to be in favor of higher spending than those elsewhere (53% vs. 46%).
Ultimately, the November elections will determine if the walkouts were a success of failure.