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Public Strongly Supports School Vouchers, New Report Finds

Posted on Monday September 10, 2012 | National

Compilation of nationwide polling data shows growing support for expanded parental choice

Washington, D.C. (September 10, 2012)— A new national polling report released today by the American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for school choice, demonstrates strong support for school choice among the public, the latest indication of the strong momentum for expanding parental options across the nation.

The report—What Public Opinion Says about School Choice: An Analysis of Attitudes toward Educational Options in America—cites 15 different polls in recent years that demonstrate strong support for school choice, specifically voucher programs and scholarship tax credit programs.

Among the findings:

  • An overwhelming majority—85 percent of likely voters and 91 percent of Latinos—in five key states—Arizona, Florida, New Mexico, New Jersey, and Nevada—think voucher or scholarship tax credit programs should be available in some form, according to a May 2012 poll commissioned by the American Federation for Children and the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options (HCREO);
  • When asked whether they would support or oppose a proposal allowing students to attend private schools with tuition paid in part by the government, supporters outnumbered opponents by 20 points in a recent national poll from Education Next, a national education reform journal.

States that have recently enacted or expanded publicly-funded private school choice programs also demonstrate strong support for school choice.  In Indiana, where a statewide voucher program was enacted last year, 66 percent of respondents favored school vouchers.  One month before the April 2012 statewide expansion of Louisiana’s Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence Program, nearly two-thirds of voters favored the voucher program, which then only existed in New Orleans. 

And in Pennsylvania, where lawmakers recently expanded its existing scholarship tax credit program and created a new program for students in failing school districts, a majority of voters said they were more likely to vote for legislators who support school choice.

“More Americans support publicly-funded private school choice programs than ever before because these programs are transforming the lives of children most in need,” said Kevin P. Chavous, senior advisor to the American Federation for Children. “There is great momentum for school choice because Democratic and Republican policymakers around the country are recognizing what parents already know—that all options should be on the table to give kids, who are trapped in perpetually underperforming schools, an immediate path to a quality education.”

There are 32 publicly-funded private school choice programs across the country in 16 states and the District of Columbia.  More than 210,000 children received scholarships through these programs during in the 2011-12 school year, a number that is expected to rise dramatically in the 2012-13 school year.

To download a copy of the new polling report, click here.