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Poll finds support across demographics for school choice

RealClear Opinion Research found black voters especially favor concept.

A new poll shows growing support for school choice.

A RealClear Opinion Research survey looked at school choice broadly and tested specific policy proposals.

The poll found 69% of registered voters support the concept of school choice, and the same number favor the ability to send children to schools beyond their zoned public school. About 70% of registered voters support a federal tax scholarship.

Advocates touted the results as a sign of growing support for educational scholarships, with one suggesting Florida was leading the way on the issue.

“Once again, a new round of nationwide public polling in 2019 confirms that school choice is incredibly popular with voters in every category, especially a federal tax credit proposal like the Education Freedom Scholarships,” said John Schilling, President of the American Federation of Children.

“This is a unifying issue among voters and policymakers should take action. The polling clearly shows that parents want more and better educational options for their children, and as we’ve seen in states like Florida and Arizona, they will become intensely passionate about candidates who support school choice.”

Respondents were specifically asked if they support a proposal in Congress where individuals and businesses could donate to a nonprofit fund granting organizations in states the ability to award scholarships to students who want to attend public, private, career or technical schools of their choice.

That’s similar to how the state-managed Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program operates

The survey found the strongest support for this voucher program among voters age 45 to 54, where 74% favored the policy. The lowest support came among those ages 18 to 24, but 66% of that group also favored a tax scholarship program as described. And 71% of black voters were supportive, the highest level of any racial demographic.

The poll found 73% of Republicans favor such a program, compared to 69% of Democrats and 68% of independents.

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Among those who have children in public schools, 75% favored a voucher program. Among those in nonpublic schools, the support was higher, about 78%. Those without kids enrolled in school right now showed about 68% approval for the program.

As far as a the concept of school choice, pollsters asked specifically about giving parents the right to use tax dollars designated for their child’s education in whatever public or private school best suited their needs. There, support was not as high as the scholarship program, but was still strong, with about 68% of respondents favoring the concept.

Here, the strongest support by age group came from those age 35 to 44, of whom 72% voiced support.

Here, about 76% of Republicans, and 77% of Republican primary voters, favored the school choice concept, while 64% of Democrats felt the same.

The poll still found a plurality of voters favor traditional public schools, just over 30%. But nearly 70% favor some other option. Almost 22% favor a private secular school, around 19% a private religious school, more than 13% a public charter school, about 11% home-school and 6% some type of virtual school.

The just-released poll was conducted Sept. 21-24 and sampled 2,014 U.S. registered voters. Pollsters report a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.

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