According to a new poll from Beck Research, just about 70% of Americans approve of school choice, including 47% which strongly support it. Only 27% oppose the idea.
The Democratic polling firm surveyed 1,800 likely November 2016 voters across the country, finding the results to be similar across party lines, with 60% of Democrats and 67% of Independents in support. An even higher 81% of Republicans agree with school choice.
In addition, public charter schools were found to be highly supported, with 76% of voters agreeing with them, and only 20% opposing. Support for the schools remained high across all party lines with 73% of Democrats, 77% of Independents, and 79% of Republicans favoring the system.
The survey consisted of two parts: a poll of 800 participants across the country in addition to a series of 10 over samples (100 per state). The ten participating states include Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
"The findings of this poll reflect what we saw in the 2014 midterms and what I am seeing in communities across the country – a demand from parents for more options in deciding how their children are educated," said Kevin Chavous, AFC's executive counsel. "Educational choice through opportunity scholarships and charter schools provide these options. As communities from New Orleans to Milwaukee to Miami have learned, educational choice is an immediate solution for parents' who have children trapped in underperforming schools. Americans know that a zip code should not dictate a child's future."
Chavous went on to discuss more findings that support for school choice is on the rise across the nation, including the success of school choice advocates in 2014 elections in addition to growing belief that the influence of national education unions over voters is waning. Around $80 million less was spent by teachers unions in the last election to express their opposition to candidates who stood in support of such educational reforms.
Deborah Beck of Beck Research said, "The poll clearly shows widespread support, among both political parties, for school choice. Any public official – or potential candidate for President — who ignores these numbers does so at their own peril."
A state poll on the same issue in Vermont showed similar results, finding 65% of Democrats and 62% of Independents support the state's "town tuitioning," a 145-year-old tradition of school choice in the state, writes Bruce Parker for Vermont Watchdog.
School choice has existed in Vermont since 1869. Town tuitioning was introduced as a way to offer rural students an education they could not receive in area public schools.
The program offers families in 93 towns in the state a tuition voucher which averages out to $14,055 per student, allowing them to send their children to an independent school or nearby public school of their choice. Around 5% of K-12 students in the state receive these vouchers.