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February 2014 Policy Study, Number 14-1


Educational Freedom – For Your Child, My Child, All Children


Attitudes Toward Educational Freedom in Ohio



In Ohio there are a wide variety of K-12 educational options which have been in place for over 20 years, including government and private schools, open enrollment for government schools and many charter schools, and significant voucher opportunities.[3]  According to University of Cincinnati Economic Professor David Brasington, this makes Ohio an especially good place to analyze opinions about support for educational freedom.


In a report published in the Journal of Contemporary Economics, Brasington and his co-author Diane Hite found that based on a telephone survey of 1,165 Ohio homeowners, 44 percent support broadly defined “school choice.”  Twenty-eight percent oppose it and 28 percent didn’t have an opinion.[4]  Both upper and lower income people supported school choice, as did people in blue-collar neighborhoods.  However, men were somewhat less supportive than women.  Importantly, potential impact on homeowner property-values caused by having either private schools or charter schools nearby did not affect opinions.  Living close to these alternative schools had no effect on support for choice, either pro or con.


African Americans and those with only “moderate” levels of education support school choice more, as did parents with younger children.  Older homeowners were less supportive of school choice, presumably as they believe they and their children received adequate educations from government schools, so change is not necessary.  As might be expected, those who have children in private schools are more supportive of choice options. 


Brasington found that homeowners in “high-performing” districts were not as supportive.  They appeared to be satisfied with the offerings and results of their government school, so were less interested in other options.[5]  Presumably, they have already used their economic freedom to choose the schools they want for their children by choosing where to live.  Additionally, in contrast to other results, those with graduate-level college degrees were less supportive of school choice, again possibly because their government-education experience had presumably been positive, allowing them to successfully earn both bachelor’s and advanced degrees.[6] 


Interestingly, but according to Brasington and Hite consistent with other surveys, liberal and very-liberal people were opposed to school choice.  One would think that these individuals, those with an overriding philosophy of helping the disadvantaged and wanting all to have “equal” opportunity and opposed to “inequality” in most forms, would result in stronger support for educational freedom of choice.




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