The school choice movement is complex because of the variety of educational choice policies and the plethora of organizations working on such policies. The number of existing and proposed policies in the "school choice" vein includes cross-district school selection, dual enrollment programs, various kinds of targeted vouchers, home schooling, charter public schools, various kinds of targeted education tax credits, residential choice and still more expansive programs like universal vouchers and universal education tax credits. Any number of these policies are supported by different organizations involved in the school choice movement, and those organizations differ in terms of their scope (national, multistate or single-state), primary activities (research, grass-roots organizing), budgets, legal and political environments, current influence and so on.
In view of these factors, where exactly do organizations in the school choice movement stand on vital school choice issues? Although the Op-Eds and policy papers from major school choice organizations can be canvassed to glean a sense of the movement’s views as a whole, there are hundreds of such organizations across the country, and many institutional policy preferences do not make it into print. Until now, a survey attempting to develop a snapshot of the school choice movement as seen by those participating in the movement has not been completed.
This publication records the results of a survey undertaken by Adam B. Schaeffer in conjunction with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. The survey, conducted over four weeks in April and May 2006, covered past and present support for, or opposition to, cross-district choice, vouchers, charter schools, education tax credits, home schooling and total separation of state government and schools. Participants were asked to estimate the influence of their own and other organizations, such as teachers unions, on the content and success of school choice legislation. They were asked to estimate the frequency with which they use various arguments to advance school choice ideas and programs. Vouchers and education tax credits were assessed in terms of their legal viability, popularity and chances for passing state legislatures. Participants were prompted to quantify their organizations’ support for various degrees of private-school choice. Other aspects of voucher and tax credit policy design, such as commonly proposed regulations for participating private schools, were addressed as well. Finally, respondents were asked to describe the biggest obstacles to, and opportunities for, expanding school choice.
The questions were wide-ranging, and the answers offer an
enlightening glimpse into professional opinion and organizational preferences.
Nevertheless, this survey is hardly the "final word" on the school choice
movement. In light of that, we are releasing all of the survey data that does
not compromise anonymity, and we heartily welcome and encourage feedback.
The survey can best be viewed by clicking the PDF link at the top or bottom of this page.