The Supreme Court, in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (CTA), is now considering whether all teachers should be required to pay union-determined “agency fees” for collective bargaining services, whether or not the teacher wants them. When making their case, unions would have the public believe that school teachers stand solidly behind them. When it comes to school choice, for example, CTA insists that “Teachers do not support school voucher programs, because they hurt students and schools by draining scarce resources away from public education.” But facts on the ground tell a different story.
A fifth of all school teachers with school-age children has placed a child in a private school, and nearly three out of ten have used one or more of the main alternatives to the traditional public school— private school, charter school, and homeschooling. What is more, the teachers who exercise choice are more likely to support school choice for others, avoid union membership, and oppose agency fees.
We discovered this when we asked, as part of a nationally representative survey of the general public and of school teachers, whether those with school age children have sent them to public, private, or charter schools, or homeschooled them. The survey was conducted in June 2015 by Knowledge Networks under the auspices of Education Next, a journal for which one of us serves as editor. Altogether, we surveyed approximately 4,000 adults, including 851 parents of school-age children, 206 of whom were school teachers. Polling details and overall results are available online at educationnext.org.