Public Attitudes Toward School Vouchers in the Trump Era

Research Minutes podcast with Rand Quinn and Tina Cheuk

New Research Minutes podcast features researchers Rand Quinn (University of Pennsylvania) and Tina Cheuk (Stanford University) discussing their new policy brief, School Vouchers in the Trump Era: How Political Ideology and Religion Shape Public Opinion Quinn and Cheuk talk about their findings surrounding public opinion on school vouchers in the highly politicized climate of Trump's presidency.

The Brief: Political ideology and religion shape public opinions on vouchers
More than half of American adults favor some form of school vouchers, according to a 2017 poll released this month in a new policy brief from the Consortium for Policy Research in Education.
The poll - designed by Quinn and Cheuk was conducted by YouGov in April 2017, two months after voucher supporter Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Secretary of Education and soon after the Trump Administration's proposed 2018 budget called for $250 million for the development and evaluation of voucher programs.

Among the findings:
  • Adults who identify as liberal are more opposed to school vouchers than those who identify as conservatives.
  • Adults who claim that religion is important to their life are more supportive of school vouchers than those who do not.
  • Adults with at least a 4-year college degree are more opposed to vouchers than adults without one.
  • Adults with family incomes between $30,000 and $100,000 are less supportive of vouchers than both adults with less family income and adults with more family income.
  • Black and Hispanic adults favor school vouchers slightly more than white adults - particularly publicly-funded vouchers targeting students from low-income households.
Click hereto download the policy brief. 

The findings come as the Trump administration again proposes increasing federal money spent on school choice options, actualized in school vouchers and other reform mechanisms. The public debate surrounding school vouchers continues to outpace research on outcomes on their use, which is far from conclusive. Recent studies, for example, have found vouchers do not improve academic achievement, but they may improve graduation rates and they may provide a greater sense of school safety and satisfaction among parents.
"In our current political landscape where the divide is growing among partisans, the role of partisanship may be an increasingly important factor in eliciting support for education policies such as school vouchers," Cheuk said. "We hope these survey findings can help policymakers understand the diversity of views on vouchers and how to navigate public opinion on this type of reform."

Author Information

Rand Quinn ( ) is an Assistant Professor of Education at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education and Senior Research Specialist with the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE). His research interests include the origins and political consequences of private sector engagement in public education, the politics of race and ethnicity in urban school reform, and the impact of community based institutions, organizations, and action in education.

Tina Cheuk ( ) is a PhD candidate at the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University. Cheuk's research focuses on the role that policy plays in improving teaching and learning efforts in STEM related courses for diverse learners.

New Initiative to Unite Research, Policy, & Practice!

The Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) is a community of researchers from renowned research institutions and organizations committed to advancing educational policy and practice through evidence-based research.

CPRE's mission is to contribute to the output of new, scholarly, evidence-based research. 

Our goal is to make education policy research openly accessible to policymakers, practitioners, researchers, and other interested readers.

CPRE's vision is to disseminate research that can be the catalyst for informed decision-making and action in educational policy and practice.

Research conducted by CPRE is peer-reviewed and open access. 

You can access CPRE research via our repository.

*CPRE is headquartered at University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, Philadelphia.