Teachers can be a good barometer on the state of American public education, and a recent survey highlighted their opinions about education options. An EdChoice/Morning Consult survey found that teachers overwhelmingly support policies that give students more education options than just attending their neighborhood public school, commonly referred to as ‘school choice’ policies.
The survey noted that a majority of teachers supported policies such as education savings accounts (77%), open enrollment (70%), charter schools (58%), and school vouchers (55%).
Teachers unions have been historically opposed to school choice policies, even though the survey proves that the teachers they represent are supportive.
For example, in Arizona last year, a pro-union group called Save Our Schools tried to reverse the state’s education savings accounts law through a referendum, but failed to collect enough signatures to put the referendum on the ballot.
At the federal level, the American Federation of Teachers penned a letter in April that supported more federal regulation of charter schools, such as requiring a community impact statement and overruling charter schools’ enrollment policies.
For example, at least one news report cited data that the school districts which closed during the pandemic had worse enrollment numbers than schools which reopened faster. This points to the effects of teachers union efforts to close public schools for months (and in some cities like Chicago, for one year or more).
Teachers’ support for school choice policies shows that they want more options for their students in a post-pandemic education landscape, and teachers unions’ opposition to school choice policies demonstrates that they are at odds with their own members.