Support for school choice options remains strong from likely North Carolina voters, according to the results of the latest Civitas poll by the John Locke Foundation.
The poll results dropped Jan. 26 during National School Choice Week, a nationwide celebration of diversity in educational options, and details announced during a special event in downtown Raleigh co-hosted by the John Locke Foundation and other school-choice groups.
Sixty-seven percent of respondents support the Opportunity Scholarship Program, a means-tested scholarship that allows low- and moderate-income families to send a child to a private school of their choice. An even greater share of N.C. voters — 69% — support the state’s Education Savings Account, which provides funds for families to pay for an array of educational expenses, such as tuition, tutoring, therapies, or instructional materials.
Charter schools also got high marks from likely voters, receiving 69% support among those surveyed.
“Public charter schools are part of the public school family. Parents want and deserve a choice in deciding the best educational environment for their children,” said Lindalyn Kakadelis, executive director of the N.C. Coalition for Charter Schools, in a statement responding to the poll results. “That’s glaringly apparent from charter school enrollment — which increased three-fold in just the past decade — and from poll after poll.”
Contributing to the desire for school choice is the general disapproval likely voters have of the state’s traditional public school system. Sixty-six percent said they were dissatisfied with the quality of K-12 education in the U.S. today, with 40% of those being very dissatisfied.
Forty-nine percent of respondents were dissatisfied with how well North Carolina has done in addressing pandemic-induced learning loss, with only 21% saying the state has done an adequate job and 9% reporting satisfaction with the job the state has done.
An overwhelming majority of North Carolinians believe that parents/guardians should choose what school is best for their children. Nearly 83% of respondents said a child’s parents are best suited to determine where their child attends school, while less than 12% believe local school boards are best suited.
“Parents belong behind the wheel of their child’s education,” said John Locke Foundation president Donald Bryson. “North Carolinians want families to have more power over the educational opportunities of their children. It is past time for the state of North Carolina to fund students and not systems.”
Speaking at the school choice event Jan. 26, Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt said that school choice is the “great equalizer” in education.
“So many times elected officials turn to complaining about why families leave traditional public schools. But I believe that competition is good because it spurs innovation and improvement. It empowers individuals,” Truitt said.
The poll was conducted Jan. 22-23 and surveyed 600 likely general election voters.