What the Wealthy Want in Education Policy


Yesterday I wrote a post noting Gilen’s research that the wealthy have outsized influence on policy in the instances when 70-80% of the wealthy agree on an issue.

But I had not seen data on what the wealthy want for education policy.

Ask and ye shall receive: Sarah Reckhow and Marty West sent over some very useful data.

Sarah sent over a paper with this great chart:

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 7.18.46 AM

Marty sent me this link to the Education Next poll with a cross tab for affluent.

So what do the wealthy want in education policy? Each of the below scored at least a 75% support rate in one of the above polls.

1. Merit pay.

2. Charter schools.

3. Vocational education.

4. Test based accountability.

Interestingly enough, the general public also has a 70% support rate for everyone of the above policies!

So, at least based on these polls, the favorite policies of the wealthy are supported by the general public.

Of course, as the above chart details, the public also favors many additional education policies (such as more spending) that the wealthy do not.

Given how much we’ve increased education spending over past couple of decades, the public seems to be winning that fight.

But, at first glance, it appears that the favorite policies of the wealthy are also supported by the public.

If this is actually the case, there seems to be little merit in the argument that the wealthy are influencing public education in a manner that works against the public will.

Rather, the agenda of the wealthy is an aligned subset of the agenda of the general public.

If this is true, has anyone written about this before? This seems to run against many arguments that appear in op-eds, blogs, and twitter.

Or am I misreading the data?

2 thoughts on “What the Wealthy Want in Education Policy

  1. Ron G

    Or could the general public, we plebes, be influenced by marketing/news/narrative that the wealthy have a larger hand and influence in communicating? So the general public is really just echoing the policy opinions of the wealthy? Similar to how people are influenced by fashion or music.

    1. nkingsl

      That is possible! My instinct is that for most people much of policy preference is really about identity and affiliation more so than deep analysis…


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