September 5, 2003 | News Releases on Education
Lawmakers Exercise School Choice But Deny it to Others, Analysts Find
Members of Congress are four times more likely than the general
public to send their children to private school, a new survey from
the Heritage Foundation has found-despite the fact that they
regularly reject measures that would allow students from poor
families to attend the schools of their choice.
In the survey, The Heritage Foundation asked federal lawmakers if
they have children who attend or had attended private schools.
Members who have sent at least one child to private school at any
time were judged to have exercised the private school option. If
the member didn't respond, the data were entered in the "No
The survey shows that, of those responding, nearly 41 percent of
representatives and 46 percent of senators have sent or are sending
children to private school. Only about 10 percent of the general
public has done so.
"In the past three years, every piece of parental choice
legislation would have passed if those who exercised choice in
their own families had voted with supporters of school choice,"
write Heritage's Krista Kafer and Jonathan Butcher in a new paper
that accompanies the survey.
Although some Members of Congress continue to oppose school-choice
legislation, public support is growing, particularly among
minorities. And existing programs enjoy a high level of parental
satisfaction, Kafer and Butcher note.
A Zogby poll conducted in July 2002 found that 76 percent of
respondents "strongly" or "somewhat" supported "providing parents
with the option of sending their children to the school of their
choice-either public, private, or parochial-rather than only to the
school to which they are assigned."