Some Red States Join Dems To Resist School Choice Policies: Report

Several Republican-led states are joining Democrats in opposing school choice policies, despite dozens of other red states implementing such policies. School choice aims to provide public education funds directly to families to use where their children learn. This concept became popular among both Republican and Democratic voters during the pandemic after parents gained an insight into their children’s education. Some states such as Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Utah, and West Virginia have accepted the policies, while many others provide programs for private schools and homeschooling. Nevertheless, some GOP officials in red states are facing opposition from fellow Republicans.

Several lawmakers faced significant challenges in passing legislation, such as Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson’s bill, which focused on education savings accounts targeting minority populations in poor-performing public schools. Some in the incumbent Republican legislature oppose the bill, along with teacher unions and Democratic lawmakers. Despite this, Johnson hopes to expand the 2019 law while acknowledging that resistance remains.

Wyoming’s school choice bill gained 50% sponsorship from the Republican House chamber after passing the Senate hurdle. However, Republican House Speaker Albert Sommers refused to pass the bill, citing concerns about local control’s infringement and ensuring authority with local school boards, town councils, and county commissions. Some believe that teachers’ unions control Sommers, given the bill’s prohibition of teaching sexual orientation in schools.

Opposition to school choice policies stems from different concerns among some Republican leaders, conservative parents, and Democrat voters. Some fear that private institutions will gain public funds, depriving public schools of funding, while others worry about government interference, such as imposing regulations on homeschooling or private schooling.

Jason Bedrick, an education research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, believes states must remain vigilant regarding their liberties and recognize that the government might regulate homeschooling or private schooling without funding support. Moreover, he suggests that increasing private education’s popularity will create a more substantial constituency that can defend private school and homeschooling autonomy against government intervention.

However, Alex Newman, an analyst for The Freedom Project, pointed out that a coalition of Democrats and Republicans opposed the failed Idaho school choice bill’s advancement, citing a lack of accountability, making it challenging for some homeschoolers using the voucher program.

The clash over school choice policies continues, with neither side showing any sign of capitulating soon.


Megan Basham contributed to this report.

“From Some Red States Join Dems To Resist School Choice Policies: Report

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