A national survey of mothers commissioned by the Friedman Foundation found that 71% of American moms support voucher programs. Furthermore, mothers believe that access to vouchers shouldn’t be limited by income level and the quality of neighboring public schools. The poll was conducted by the Braun Research Inc, and canvassed a representative sample of mothers of school-aged kids and “other adults,” over the period of April 17th and April 24th.
The report, titled Moms and Schools Survey: Nationwide Public Opinion on Schooling tackled head on the ongoing debate over who should be eligible to receive vouchers to apply towards private school tuition. The opinions range from income-limited vouchers, to income- and school quality-limited vouchers to universally available vouchers and many combinations in between. However, if the opinion of the moms is anything to go by, people believe that anyone who desires to enroll their child in a private school should get a government-funded scholarship to help with tuition. Only 30% of those polled believed that vouchers should be limited by family circumstances such as income or neighborhood.
It is easy to understand that the motivation behind this attitude is the importance mothers place on obtaining the absolute best quality of education for their kids. But although there was an overwhelming preference for the expansion of school choice opportunities, those polled actually expressed a more positive opinion of their local public schools than the either local private or local charter schools.
Asked to assign a grade from A-to-F to different schools in their area, 62% of moms (and 52% of non-moms,) gave their neighborhood public schools a grade of A or B. Only 10% assigned their local public schools a failing grade. There wasn’t much of a difference between moms and non-moms in their views of local private schools, with 51% and 50%, respectively, assigning them an A or a B. Although not as many respondents rated the private schools highly, there were also fewer who thought then an outright failure. The private schools were given an F by only one in twenty of those who answered the question.
But the surprise of the survey was the findings related to charters. By far, charter schools came off the worst in the eyes of both mothers and non-mothers. Although 62% admitted that they did not have an opinion on charters in their area, which is higher than the national average of 52% on the same question, of those who were familiar with them, only 25% and 31% thought that they deserved the top two grades. Their failure rate was also highest among all types of schools. One in seven of those who assigned a grade gave their local charters a failing grade.