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Poll offers insight into US views on school choice, education policy

Craig Clough | July 8, 2015



A new poll shows that Americans strongly support the idea of school vouchers, something that 24 states — not including California — offer in some version.
The Schooling in America Survey also found that most American’s disapprove of the federal government’s handing of education even while they lack a basic understanding of how much the country spends per-pupil on education. It also offers insight into how Americans view their local public schools, charters, the influence of teacher unions and Common Core.
The poll was funded  by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, a nonprofit that advocates for school choice, and was conducted by Braun Research.
Among the poll’s findings:
  • 17 percent of respondents said “education” was the most important issue facing the country right now, trailing only “economy and jobs” (31 percent) as a first priority.
  • Six of 10 Americans are much more likely to think K–12 education has gotten off on the “wrong track,” compared with about one-third of adults who say it is heading in the “right direction.”
  • Nearly three-quarters of Americans have a dim view of the federal government’s performance in K–12 education.
  • 14 percent could estimate the correct per-student spending range for the national average, which is $10,700.
  • 44 percent give an A or B to their local public schools; 58 percent give an A or B to local private/parochial schools; and 36 percent give those high grades to public charter schools.
  • 53 percent of respondents said they favored charters, and 27 percent said they opposed them.
  • Republicans (60 percent) and Independents (58 percent) are more likely to indicate support for charter schools than Democrats (47 percent).
  • Approximately six out of 10 Americans (61 percent) say they support school vouchers, compared with 33 percent who said they oppose such a school choice system.
  • 62 percent say they support an “education savings account” system (“ESA”).
  • 42 percent said the amount of time spent on standardized testing is “too high,” compared with 19 percent who said “too low.
  • When asked about what state government should do to intervene, if at all, in low-performing schools, the highest proportion of respondents (41 percent) said supplying vouchers/scholarships to affected families would be a useful state intervention
  • Half of respondents said they support the Common Core State Standards compared with 40 percent who said they oppose.
  • 46 percent said the a teacher unions’ endorsement of a political candidate has a positive influence on them. One-quarter said the teachers unions have a negative influence.

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