More than two-thirds of likely voters back letting parent use tax dollars to send children to the public or private school which best fits their needs, a new poll shows. The 67-percent support level is 4 percentage points higher than a similar poll taken a year ago.
The National School Choice Poll of 1,200 likely 2020 voters, conducted by the Democratic polling firm Beck Research, was released Thursday by the nonprofit group American Federation for Children. The poll has been conducted each of the past five years to coincide with National School Choice Week 2019, which will take place Jan. 20-26.
Backing for school choice has remained fairly consistent over the five-year period. The percentage favoring choice has ranged from 63 percent to 70 percent, while opposition has ranged between 24 percent and 33 percent.
School choice gets high marks across the board, with strong support from whites (68 percent for, 28 percent against); African-Americans (67-25); and Latinos (73-19).
A majority of Democrats, Republicans, and independents back it as well, though with 56 percent favoring school choice and 36 percent opposing it, Democrats give choice the lowest levels of support.
Voters also say they want politicians who will extend school choice options. “Three out of five voters are more likely to support a member of Congress or state legislator who supports expanding school choice, including 21 percent who are much more likely to vote [for] someone who supports school choice,” a press release accompanying the poll results said.
In a statement, American Federation for Children President John Schilling said:
Despite relentless attacks from opponents of educational freedom throughout the past year, school choice support has grown over the past year. Most parents want a different option for their child and are willing to make sacrifices to go to a better school if they had the option. Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and communities of color are all demanding greater choice in K-12 education. It’s time for policymakers to listen to these voters and pass legislation that gives more families the freedom to choose the best educational environment for their child.
Among specific types of school choice, by far the most popular is scholarships for disabled students, with an 86-12 percent margin of support. Vouchers for children of service members is next, 79-18, followed by Education Savings Accounts (78-16); public charter schools (74-22); scholarship tax credits (68-28); virtual learning (60-37); and school vouchers (53-44).
Young adults are most likely to back school choice measures, with 75 percent of Millennials supporting choice. As voters age, support slides. But even 63 percent of Silent Generation voters (born before 1946) support school choice, while 29 percent oppose it.