DFER Poll Underscores Parent Demand for Public School Options

Press Releases

May 8, 2023

National Battle Over Education Provides Opportunities, Risks for Democrats

NEW YORK, N.Y. (May 8, 2023) — A new poll released today by Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) shows overwhelming support among voters—particularly Black and Latino voters and parents—for increased options in our public school system. Consistent with prior research, the polling indicates that Democrats who do not propose solutions beyond funding alone, risk alienating key elements of their base, and exacerbating a growing issue of trust on education policy.

The poll found that more than 70% of Black and Latino voters, Democrats, and voters who are parents held favorable views of public charter schools—with an overwhelming majority of Black (67%) and Hispanic (69%) parents seeing new ideas and public school choice options, coupled with more funding, as integral components to improving our nation’s education system. 

“At a time when so much is at stake politically, Democrats cannot afford to ignore voters of color and parents who so ardently want more school choice options,” said DFER CEO Jorge Elorza. “Voters of color prefer public options, but if Democrats do not wholeheartedly embrace public school choice as a party, we not only lose an opportunity to better serve students, but we risk losing Black and Latino voters who do not feel heard.” 

In encouraging news for Democrats, proposals to invest in public school options—which reflect the types of public school choice supported by many Democrats—outperform Republican proposals for disinvestment in our public education system 2:1 among Black voters. Notably, 67% of Black voters and 57% of Latino voters also said they preferred public school choices compared to private voucher programs.

“For the past 30 years, public charter schools have delivered exceptional results educating Black, Latino, and low-income kids throughout the country and they’ve shown that a great public school education is not reserved for only the affluent,” added Elorza. “Democratic mayors, governors, and school board members who are accountable to families have long supported public school choice options. It’s time for the rest of the Party to join us.”

The poll also found that:

  • 77% of parents viewed public charters favorably— including 80% of Black parents and 71% of Latino parents. 
  • Among Democrats, 73% said they viewed public charter schools favorably, preferring public options to private vouchers by a 40-percentage-point margin. Independent voters preferred public options to private vouchers by a 28-percentage-point margin. 
  • More than half of voters (56%) are also concerned by Republicans’ prioritization of censorship and banning books, rather than teaching students to read books.

This is the first poll of DFER’s new quarterly polling project, DFER EdTrends. The nationally representative poll was conducted by Emerson College Polling between April 17-19, 2023, and surveyed United States voters. Data was collected by contacting cell phones via SMS-to-web, email via a consumer list of emails, and an online panel. The sample size is n=1,000 with a credibility interval of +/- 3%. 

You can view the poll results here. Additional crosstabs available upon request.


About Democrats for Education Reform 

Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) is a national political organization that supports elected Democrats and candidates for office who seek to expand policies and practices that increase educational equity for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds. It is a partner organization of Education Reform Now Advocacy, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that supports DFER’s legislative and policy advocacy work. www.dfer.org.