News: Quick Takes

New Civitas Poll shows North Carolina voters back school choice

The Civitas Institute, a conservative public policy organization, has released its annual school choice poll, just in time for National School Choice Week. The results of the poll suggest a majority of North Carolina voters approve of school choice.

SurveyUSA conducted the poll between Jan. 15 and Jan. 18 and surveyed 804 registered voters on their opinions of various school choice initiatives. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.4 percent.  

A majority of those surveyed said their children attend traditional public schools, but if resources weren’t an issue, 45 percent would send their children to a private school if they had the option. While 28 percent would still send their children to a traditional public school, 13 percent would choose a charter school, and 9 percent would homeschool.

The top reason cited for sending their children to traditional public school was because it’s the option closest to home. While 38 percent cited proximity, 27 percent said their children attend traditional public schools because it’s where they were assigned.

“Education policy conversations in North Carolina consistently, and destructively, devolve into a ‘race to the top,’ to see who can spend the most money, regardless of outcomes,” Civitas President Donald Bryson, said in a news release. “Policymakers need to consider why families are in search of other options.”

When it comes to specific school choice policies in North Carolina, a majority of respondents gave their support. Slightly over 50 percent strongly support the Opportunity Scholarships, a program which provides vouchers of up to $4,200 to help low- to moderate income families pay for private school attendance.

Education Savings Accounts, a taxpayer-funded program granting money to families to pay for education for children with special needs, was strongly supported by 39 percent of respondents and somewhat supported by 40 percent.

An overwhelming 70 percent of respondents strongly agree parents should have the ability to choose where their child attends school, and 88 percent say parents are best suited for this job. Half of respondents said parental school choice lets parents choose the best educational option for their children, and 20 percent said school choice provides opportunities for better education.

“The right to parental school choice is overwhelmingly popular in North Carolina, regardless of geography, income level, race or party registration,” Bryson said. “Politicians would serve well to take note, particularly given recent election results in Florida and Georgia.”

Voters in both states elected Republican governors who backed school choice over Democrats who opposed it.