WILL’s CJ Szafir and Cori Petersen write at RealClearEducation on school choice and education reformers need to better target and message their advocacy to win converts and inform the public.
We education reformers are a confident bunch. Armed with peer-reviewed, often gold-standard studies, we aim to convince the world that school choice helps children. Our methodologies — complex statistical analyses — are so sound that we believe our conclusions simply must be accepted. After all, peer-reviewed literature has shown school choice to improve student outcomes, such as graduation rates, test scores, safety, and criminality.
Yet we fall into two traps: We overload people with information, and we don’t fully understand which school-choice messages resonate with different groups of voters. This is why the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) conducted a survey experiment of 1,500 adults in Wisconsin, a political bellwether state with demographic and partisan breakdowns mirroring other Midwestern states. Through message testing, we were able to learn which descriptions of school choice resonate with different demographics and partisans. Using the results, we came up with these three messaging suggestions for national education reform leaders