Sunday, February 28, 2016

Oklahomans fully support school choice

There was an excellent letter to the editor from pollster Pat McFerron published yesterday in The Oklahoman:
Meredith Exline (Point of View, Feb. 19) is right to say Oklahoma lawmakers should chart a new path and heed parents and citizens when it comes to education, but wrong to claim voters oppose education savings accounts. That flaw leads her to ask lawmakers to follow the same tired path that has created a state that underpays teachers and provides too few opportunities to our children, especially those relegated to poorer districts. 
My expertise is in voter attitudes as collected from scientific studies. In a study I designed, fielded and analyzed, fully 70 percent of Oklahoma voters, including 78 percent of women with a child younger than 18 in the home, support school choice. School choice was described as giving “parents the right to use tax dollars associated with their child's education to send their child to the public or private school which better serves their needs.” No leading questions. No rigged push poll. Just data. 
When told about the recently Supreme Court-affirmed Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship for children with special needs, 76 percent of Oklahomans want the program expanded. Even when told the money will leave a public school and go to a parochial or church-related school, support remained overwhelming. Why? Because most voters care more about the individual child than they do the education establishment. 
I have repeatedly provided all verbiage in the study and stake my 23-year reputation as a pollster in Oklahoma on the results: Oklahomans want parents to have true choice in picking their schools.
With McFerron's latest study, the evidence keeps piling up that Oklahomans support educational choice. Here is the recent survey research that has shown strong support for various forms of private-school choice among Oklahomans: 
  • Braun Research survey (registered Oklahoma voters), January 2014
  • Tarrance Group survey (registered Oklahoma GOP primary voters), July 2014
  • SoonerPoll survey (likely Oklahoma voters), January 2015
  • Tarrance Group survey (registered Oklahoma voters), January 2015
  • Cole Hargrave Snodgrass and Associates survey (registered Oklahoma voters), December 2015 
And here is the survey research showing that Oklahomans oppose school vouchers (the survey didn't ask about tax-credit scholarships or ESAs):
  • Public Opinion Strategies survey (likely Oklahoma voters), March 2015

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