A new study from University of Southern California Center for Applied Research in Education at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences should give hope to those who believe in the value of public education—in other words, according to the study, most Americans.

Despite the current political climate, the survey revealed surprising areas of agreement among Americans regarding education.

For example, Americans across the political spectrum overwhelmingly agree on the importance of a free, public education for every child; its core functions of teaching basic literacy, numeracy and civics; and positioning children to have a financially secure future.

The researchers also discovered that 58% of Democrats and 54% of Republicans believe protecting democracy is a very important goal of education, while 36% of adults with other affiliations agree. The survey also showed widespread agreement that parents should play an important role in their children’s education.

“In an election year, when the partisan stakes seem so high, we were heartened to find such high levels of agreement around core purposes of education, including both teaching the basics and also strengthening our fragile democracy,” said Morgan Polikoff, co-author of the study and associate professor of education at USC Rossier.

The study mirrors findings over the years, including a 2021 study commissioned by the National School Boards Action Center that found a solid majority of respondents valued what their public schools are doing in their community. That study also found 59 percent of voters think funding for public schools should be increased. Among those who believe it should be increased, 86 percent would support an increase in funding even if it meant they would pay more in taxes. What’s more, three-quarters of respondents to a more recent NPR poll say teachers are “asked to do too much work for the pay they receive.”

More than nine out of ten K-12 students attend public schools. That’s more than just voting with your feet—that’s voting with your precious children’s education.

These number add up to a lot of children, parents, and grandparents who could make up a nearly unstoppable political force that should shield public education budgets from getting gutted by money-guzzling projects like voucher programs and charter schools. But they are up against some of the best-funded political organizations, like those supported by anti-public education zealots Betsy DeVos and the Cleveland Browns football team owner Jimmy Haslam and his wife, Dee.

As conservatives look for more ways to undermine public education funding across the states, let’s hope millions of families are able to defeat a handful of millionaires.