School Choice Week is here, and there are a lot of people trying to spread the good word about the benefits of increasing educational freedom.
But what benefit of choice is best to focus on?
You can make at most a few points in an oped or on talk radio. On TV, and even in print reporting, you’re lucky to get one point across. And with friends and family, and even politicians, you need to keep the focus where it will do the most good.
So, should you focus on how horrible inner-city schools are, how many lives are destroyed in a failing government system? Maybe. Depends on the person, certainly.
But the evidence suggests that the best message overall is one that focuses on the financial benefits of school choice (and this is even before the financial crisis). People think about vouchers and education tax credits differently. And be careful trying to pull at Democratic heart-strings with arguments that choice will increase educational equity for poor kids … there’s evidence that it backfires!
Take a look at this slide presentation that describes how the public thinks about private school choice, what you should emphasize, and what you should be careful with … it’s not just my opinion, it’s based on evidence from a unique message experiment: