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The Public Knows Something Is Wrong with Education … and It’s Not Lack of Money

Matt WingardQuickPoint!

Contrary to what the interest groups who run our public education system keep saying, the general public understands their schools aren’t all that they could be. A recent nationwide poll of 1,000 adults by The Economist Magazine reveals an interesting picture of how voters feel about public education.

Only 13% say “Too little money” is the most important problem facing public education in the U.S. today. Both “Lack of parental involvement” and “Lack of student discipline” rank higher.

61% think private schools in their area are better than public schools in the U.S.

67% agree that private schools give students who can afford the tuition an advantage in life.

53% favor giving parents government-funded vouchers for private school tuition.

Of those, 90% say parents should be allowed to use the vouchers to pay tuition for both religious and non-religious schools—and 69% would not limit the vouchers to only areas where public schools had low test scores and high dropout rates.

The public understands clearly that more money is not going to fix what is ailing our public education delivery system. Oregon is already spending more than $10,000 per student in taxpayer funds.

The polling data is trending toward school choice. As more and more parents experience choice through charter schools, vouchers, tax credits and the like, the idea of educational freedom becomes more real and urgently rational.

Matt Wingard is Director of the School Choice Project at Cascade Policy Institute, a think tank based in Portland, Oregon.

© 2008, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.

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