INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Voters in Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, New Jersey, and New York decidedly favor charter schools, tax-credit scholarships, and vouchers, according to a new report released today by the Indianapolis-based Foundation for Educational Choice.
The report “Interstate Survey: What Do Voters Say About K-12 Education in Six States?” also found that no more than a quarter of voters in any of the six states could estimate the correct spending range for public schools. Only 24 percent of Mississippi respondents guessed in the correct range, while no more than 11 percent in Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, New Jersey, or New York guessed correctly.
The “Interstate Survey” project, commissioned by The Foundation for Educational Choice and conducted by Braun Research Incorporated (BRI), interviewed more than 600 registered voters in each of six states: Alabama; Arkansas; Kansas, Mississippi; New Jersey; and New York. A total of 3,614 telephone interviews were conducted in English from July 26 to August 1, 2010, by means of both landline and cell phone.
“Whether they are relatively happy with their schools’ performance or very displeased, Americans see the value in giving families options,” said Robert Enlow, President and CEO of The Foundation for Educational Choice. “If a voucher, tax-credit scholarship, or charter school can give a child an effective, personalized education, then that child has the right to receive it. This study shows voters agree.”
The poll, conducted by Braun Research Incorporated, found that voters in these states vary when describing the quality of public school systems (Alabama, Mississippi, and New York are much more likely to say state public school systems are “poor” rather than “excellent”), and in their views on school funding (Arkansas and New Jersey are more content with perceived funding; most Alabamans and Mississippians say funding is “too low”). With state budget crises looming, quality and cost of government services will be on voters’ minds.
“At a time when states are struggling to make ends meet, the public is unaware of how much is being spent in schools,” Enlow said. “Meanwhile, Americans are generally not thrilled with the results. Voters are waking up to the reality that merely spending more on education does not necessarily result in a better education for children – and if they knew how much is really being spent, they would be shocked,” Enlow continued.
Paul DiPerna, Research Director for the Foundation for Educational Choice, writes in the new report that “…voters indicated that there is a gaping disconnect between their preferred school type and actual enrollment patterns.” DiPerna adds, “Fully half of voters would choose a school that is not publicly operated, either private or homeschooling … Voters likely would welcome broadening K-12 discussions to include private schools and homeschooling. To continue to do otherwise would seem to neglect the public interest and ignore preferences.”
“Every child is different. That’s why families deserve a variety of education options,” said Enlow. “School choice is about equipping families with those options and giving every parent the freedom to choose the education that’s best for their individual child – and this study demonstrates that Americans want that freedom.”
A note on methodology: Statistical results were weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for each state survey is +4.0 percentage points. Margin of error for the total sample of interviews is +1.6 percentage points.
To see the full report, including more information about voter views on education quality, funding, graduation rates, achievement tests, and preferred school types, visit www.EdChoice.org/Interstate-Survey-1.
Submitted by The Foundation for Educational Choice, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, solely dedicated to advancing Milton and Rose Friedman’s vision of school choice for all children. First established as the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation in 1996, the Foundation continues to promote school choice as the most effective and equitable way to improve the quality of K-12 education in America. The Foundation is dedicated to research, education, and promotion of the vital issues and implications related to choice and competition in K-12 education.