Voucher supporters’ poll indicates wide backing for school choice

House members attend a floor session in Nashville on Jan. 12, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

School voucher supporters are out with some new national polling showing wide support for school choice. Opponents have long argued the polling questions are loaded to turn out the most favorable results.

The polling comes as a faction of state Republicans take their latest run at ending automatic paycheck deductions to pay union dues to the Tennessee Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union. Similar efforts have foundered in committee and on the Senate floor in prior years.

The TEA’s political action committee is one of the most generous donors to state lawmakers of both parties.

Here’s the release from the American Federation for Children:

Parents and families have been on a rollercoaster when it comes to K-12 education in the time of COVID-19. A new poll from Real Clear Opinion Research finds overall support for school choice is increasing as parents need more options than ever.

Major findings:

— 71% of voters back school choice. This is the highest level of support ever recorded from major AFC national polling with a sample size above 800 voters.

— 65% support parents having access to a portion of per-pupil funding to use for home, virtual, or private education if public schools don’t reopen full-time for in-person classes.

Statement from John Schilling, President of the American Federation of Children:

“The continued very strong support among voters for school choice and spending flexibility for parents of school-aged children is a clear message for policymakers. Parents and families are demanding greater choice in K-12 education and they expect policymakers to put the needs of students ahead of the special interests who are bound and determined to protect the status quo.

“The need for education freedom is at an all-time high and it’s reaffirming to see many state policymakers stepping up and supporting school choice across the country. Thirty-two states have introduced 36 bills to create or expand educational choice and we urge policymakers in these states to get these bills over the finish line on behalf of families and students.”

Full Details:

Question: School Choice

School choice gives parents the right to use the tax dollars designated for their child’s education to send their child to the public or private school which best serves their child’s needs. Generally speaking, would you say you support or oppose the concept of school choice?

Support:

All: 71%

Race & Ethnicity:

White: 73%
Black: 66%
Hispanic: 68%
Asian: 66%

Party ID:

Democrat: 69%
Republican: 75%

Question: Funding students vs. funding systems

On average, American taxpayers spend $15,424 per student nationwide on K-12 public education. Would you support or oppose giving parents a portion of those funds to use for home, virtual, or private education if public schools do not reopen full-time for in-person classes?

Support:

All: 65%

Race & Ethnicity:

White: 65%
Black: 63%
Hispanic: 60%
Asian: 69%

Party ID:

Democrat: 66%
Republican: 67%

Question: Faith in teachers’ unions

In many states, teachers’ unions have advocated to keep public schools closed and continue virtual learning instead of reopening school buildings. Meanwhile, 92% of private Catholic schools were operating with in-person learning in September. Does this make you feel more or less favorable towards teachers’ unions that oppose re-opening?

More Favorable: 36%

Less Favorable: 47%

Date: March 12-17, 2021
+/- 2.44%

More school choice polling can be found at www.SchoolChoicePolling.com

47 Responses to Voucher supporters’ poll indicates wide backing for school choice

  • Avatar
    Cryan says:

    Thanks for including their leading questions.

    I’m for this policy, too, if the vouchers pay 100% tuition, fees, room and board at Baylor, GPS, Montgomery Bell, USJ, or St. Mary’s Episcopal. Those are good private schools.

    There are no for-profit online schools or Independent Baptist “Q” Academies with 6 students who are all siblings that deserve these government handouts.

    • Avatar
      steve cates says:

      Thanks for pointing out what many people DO NOT KNOW: These “vouchers” do NOT guarantee quality schools will be available for all!!

      • Avatar
        Stuart I. Anderson says:

        The more widespread vouchers are available the more students will be able to abandon the government schools so there is no reason to suppose that with so much increased demand for quality private schooling in the market there won’t be increased supply of quality schools to satisfy that increased demand.

        • Avatar
          Cryan says:

          That’s the theory, but it won’t work. There will be Republican backed regulations to bailout the failing Baptist school in their district. And those with less religious zeal will write the regulations so that they personally benefit and push voucher kids into Haslam Academies or Trump Universities.

      • Avatar
        MARLE says:

        Why would you expect vouchers to deliver 100% of something public schools fail at: Quality Schools

        Those who support vouchers want IMPROVEMENT, not perfection. And the choice to spend per pupil money where their child’s Learning goal is best met.

    • Avatar
      Cryan says:

      If the reproducing masses get a tax rebate to use on private school, then child-free adults should also receive a $7,400 debit card to use on private purchases.

      Hell, I think I’ll sell my car so I can get my highway money back on a prepaid VISA.

  • Avatar
    Cryan says:

    The second to last question asks if you want your tax money for “virtual” school and then the very next question tries to make you mad at teacher unions for having virtual school.

    No shame lol

  • Avatar
    MARLE says:

    American taxpayers have spent over $15K per student in K-12 PER YEAR. I am sure there are dufus(es) that think that’s the bill for entire 13 years.

  • Avatar
    TR says:

    I have generally been opposed to vouchers in the past, but the fact that most private schools stayed open for in-person learning while children in public schools were forced to do virtual school or attend on hybrid schedules because of the teacher’s unions refusal to return to the classroom has shown me that accountability is necessary and parents who feel trapped by the decisions of their school districts should have other options.

    • Avatar
      MARLE says:

      If the point of publicly funded education is Learning then let the money follow the child. If the agenda is something else then tell us what it is.

  • Avatar
    Stuart I. Anderson says:

    Any way we can diminish the monopoly of the government school trust we should pursue. Let the cost of educating students follow the student with ultimate control falling to the parents.

    • Avatar
      Taxpayer #314 says:

      I believe the “Devo” Lady, under trump, left a bad taste in the public’s mouth when it comes to negotiating school programs. Once again it was her conservative AND republican desire to use her office to enrich herself and family. It sad to see so many politicians attempt to “game the system” to improve their own wealth. Her leadership ideas had nothing to do with education and so her education plans were rightfully rejected. We should fully fund public Education and keep Private Schools, PRIVATE.

  • Avatar
    Bill says:

    Do you want public dollars going to institutions with discriminatory practices? In some states schools given voucher money discriminate against accepting certain types of students? Nearly a third of the schools that participated in a Montana education tax credit program at the center of a controversial Supreme Court case maintain explicitly anti-LGBTQ policies.

    How about schools that teach that evolution is not science? Public money is going to schools of a religious nature that teach anti-evolution. State departments of education typically have the duty to determine the content of the school curriculum.

    Individual taxpayers should not have a say in how their tax monies are spent. For example, I oppose war yet my tax dollars are used to build military equipment. Why should a parent have the “choice” to decide how their tax money is used just because they happen to currently have a school age child that they would like to enroll in a religious school?

    It appears to me that various misleading and deceitful arguments have been employed over the years to use public money to fund private and religious schools. One source of this thinking has been the Heritage Foundation, a think tank in DC with a clearly religious agenda and considerable influence within the GOP, especially in TN.

    Where will this thinking and type of legislation lead us? Perhaps we are on the way to some of the thinking and practices of Germany or other European states. Tax dollars go to churches. In Germany the Lutheran and Catholic churches are funneled tax monies with the provision that these institutions provide social services to the needy public. The tax is known as the German Church Tax. In the past in the USA some states have established a state religion. Are we headed back in that direction? I fear some of the unintended consequences of blurring the lines between church and state

    • Avatar
      MARLE says:

      We have been using public money to fund education at colleges. Why not high school? What, exactly is the difference?

    • Avatar
      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      So glad you asked Bill, as a libertarian I believe each individual should have freedom of association for themselves and their children and I love the idea of a diversity of educational choices to reflect the diversity of society. Indeed, there are certain diversities that are truly worth celebrating even if it leads to some making choices that don’t meet with the approval of BILL.

      “Individuals taxpayers should not have a say how their tax monies are spent” for things that are rightly government services like defense that the citizenry cannot provide for themselves but we small government conservatives believe that those things should be as few as possible. Education is a service that the private sector can provide and when it does so this has many desirable features such as individuals “having a say how their . . .monies are spent.”

      Of course Bill when you mention the great Heritage Foundation I can only remind you that its political arm Heritage Action is the source of the scorecard that is used on this forum to evaluate the individuals we send to Congress. Of course, all of us are anxiously awaiting the publication of the scores from the current session of Congress which will be available shortly.

      Bill, there is nothing more amusing than when a liberal like yourself becomes a strict constructionist regarding certain phrases in the constitution when it is convenient for you to do so. I find it difficult to believe that in this increasingly secular country you fear the establishment of a state religion. No Bill, what I think you fear is the de-establishment of the government school trust over the education and indoctrination of this nation’s students. Freedom can be scary at first blush but let it reign Bill, it will be good for us.

      • Avatar
        Taxpayer #314 says:

        Bill, as long as Stuart gets to decide how your tax money is spent, he doesn’t mind people putting forth ideas that he doesn’t like. Since he is a self proclaimed “Constitutional Expert” he tends to find other people’s ideas about his understanding of the constitution, “amusing.” Most posters on this web-site just ignore his rants and move on but he is easily amused.

  • Avatar
    Donna Locke says:

    School vouchers are just another way of transferring public dollars to questionable, unaccountable entities and to religious agendas.

    The public school systems have been an important factor in our national cohesion.

    • Avatar
      MARLE says:

      We have national cohesion? Since when?

      • Avatar
        MARLE says:

        Have the private schools submit to annual testing ( or the equivalent of the public schools) for the Basic skills. Problem solved UNLESS what you really want is the captive in the seat for indocrination.

        And of course we want the educrats to get their pay scale and benefits that have derived in large measure form the union activity and from the monopoly status enjoyed byl Public Education.

    • Avatar
      Donna Locke says:

      Yes, we had national cohesion, now fragmented.

      • Avatar
        MARLE says:

        Fragmented due to vouchers, right? All the left and right lunies are private school educated.

        • Avatar
          Donna Locke says:

          The flights to private schools began in the Seventies. Our nation is fragmented now for several reasons. Mass, unchecked immigration is a major, if not the major, factor.

          And haven’t you written that you went to Catholic school?

          • Avatar
            MARLE says:

            Yes. I said my children both went to public school and my mother taught for 24 years in public school and I taught AP high school in the public schools.

            I thought maybe the question was trying to get to my presumed bias against public school based on my limited exposure to it.

          • Avatar
            Donna Locke says:

            I am not happy about what has happened to the public schools in making them an extension of the nanny, welfare state. This has enabled, rewarded, and encouraged irresponsibility and massive inequity.

            None of the solutions–and more important, the trends–I’ve seen are good or will reverse course now.

  • Avatar
    Donna Locke says:

    I hope a number of us will find ways to tell people in our counties exactly what our state legislators, particularly the Republicans, have been doing in the legislature the past two years and before. They have been killing E-Verify bills, trying to destroy the public schools, transferring our tax dollars to their campaign donors and themselves, insulting our family members and us, ignoring civil rights, taking power from our local governments so the legislature can be our dictators, attempting to run every aspect of our private, personal lives, ENRICHING THEMSELVES, etc., etc., etc.

  • Avatar
    Cryan says:

    Home rule is in the Constitution of the State of Tennessee. You can blame teacher’s union all you want, but it was Republicans who first limited it to the metropolitan areas and then removed Hamilton and Knox counties.

    This was a bill nobody wanted enacted in their own district. The Supermajority put it in Democratic Nashville and Memphis so that old fart Bill Lee could finally get a win in the eyes of the gullible Tennessee Star Report followers.

    Do something that works. Fully funded education to reputable private schools ($40,000 per term starting in kindergarten) or shut the hell up and fix the public schools.

    • Avatar
      Cryan says:

      And before Eddie and Stuart mischaracterize my position, I’m not for $40,000 vouchers. That’s just what it will take to make a difference. Your kids are better off at public schools than a $7,000 Online Bible School.

  • Avatar
    Eddie White says:

    Cryan, as usual you generalize and throw bombs. I have not supported vouchers to this point, although I do see the arguments. I am sitting in a public high school as I write this. I fully understand the problems in public education. I have not reached the conclusion that vouchers are the best answer.

    • Avatar
      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      Eddie, elementary economics tells us that as more students are able to attend private schools through the use of vouchers the fixed costs of private schools will be spread over more paying students which will allow the private schools to be able to lower their tuitions and, if the schools are desirable, still make a healthy profit. The venerable schools with great reputations will probably still be too expensive for the average parent but there is no reason to expect that there won’t be schools well within the reach of the average parent that many parents will find preferable to their zoned government school.

  • Avatar
    Charles says:

    Public funds – Public schools; Private funds – Private schools. “Church and state are, and must remain, separate.” RONALD REAGAN. Help maintain the wall: http://www.Nashville-AU.org

    • Avatar
      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      That’s a strange dichotomy you’ve created Charles; “Public” vs. “Private.” Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say “TAXPAYER FUNDS” and shouldn’t the producers of those funds decide where they should best be spent rather than some government education bureaucrat on the basis of lines on a map? We require a certain amount of compulsory education so let the government give parents the money to pay for that education and establish accreditation standards then allow the parents to take advantage of the increased quality in education that competition will naturally produce.

    • Avatar
      MARLE says:

      Public funds – Public schools; Private funds – Private schools. We make parents sending children to private schools Simultaneously pay for the Public ones they’re NOT ATTENDING.

      Private school paying parents would Really Appreciate your idea. I know my son who is sending his 2 to Catholic school @ 9K per would love not having to pay to also send them to Public School.

  • Avatar
    Eddie White says:

    The federal government provides funding to private colleges including religious institutions for research, financial aid , and maybe other things as well. An example would be the Federal SEOG program that gives a pool of money to the college to provide grant funding to needy students.

    • Avatar
      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      Eddie, this country has increasingly empty churches as secularization of the nation accelerates. The fear that somehow giving parents money to spend on education and their spending the money in church affiliated schools will somehow cause the U.S. to become some theocracy is a laughably bad argument by people who really know better but are interested in keeping most children trapped under government control during their most impressionable years.

    • Avatar
      MARLE says:

      Financial aid is what covers TUITION ie pays for the education (costs of buildings, prof salaries etc) at 99% of private colleges, Eddie. What possible distinction is that compared to spending in high school??

      • Avatar
        Cryan says:

        I’m really not following the argument, MARLE. You can get merit-based state lottery scholarships or federal student loans for private college. I don’t see how those are the same as universal debit cards.

        You have to apply and be accepted to a university. Your attendence isn’t mandatory. Will the voucher law mandate that any boy (OR GIRL) must be accepted by Montgomery Bell?

        Seems like you’re giving an opening to a lawsuit forcing elite K-12 private schools to remove admission requirements and accept a government mandated tuition ceiling of $7,400.

        Or are we ready to admit this law has nothing to do with reputable private schools?

        • Avatar
          Eddie White says:

          Cryan, Marle turns everything into brain surgery. Don’t be confused by its post. I’m simply saying the federal government already provides support to religious educational institutions. So we really don’t have separation of church and state in education as was earlier posted.

          • Avatar
            MARLE says:

            No actually I don’t turn everything into brain surgery.

            Haven’t you figured out that Stuart uses that charge of “micro analysis” crappola to deflect when he doesn’t have a sensible answer. And if he is asked to respond simply (as in Yes or No so as to avoid a 10 paragraph rabbit trail) then he deflects with a diatribe on being told what to do.

            It’s all so see-through~ no answer just start deflecting some way or another. Don’t copy this tactic, Eddie. One on here doing that is enough.

          • Avatar
            Stuart I. Anderson says:

            “. . .MARLE turns everything into brain surgery.” I like that even better than my referring to MARLE as a “Microanalyst.”

          • Avatar
            MARLE says:

            It’s sort of an unintended compliment since from reading comments from those who think they know everything it is obvious that THEY could never do brain surgery. I’m pretty sure you Need a really good brain to DO Brain Surgery.

      • Avatar
        MARLE says:

        Cryan……..The response was to something EDDIE said. Hence, the remark specifically was addressed to him.

        Maybe if you read his remark AND then read what I wrote you would see that I wasn’t making a grand universal declaration about the voucher program ~ only a response to his very narrow mention of “tuition”.

        • Avatar
          Cryan says:

          Fair enough. I stand corrected.

          • Avatar
            Taxpayer #314 says:

            And yes, Stuart does use lots of deflections and “challenging one word” tactics in his rebuttals. He likes to think of himself as the professor in the class here and he just knows it all but he is so kind, he will teach us all exactly what we are lacking to share the good life he is living.

  • Avatar
    Donna Locke says:

    I may be the most concise commenter on this site. I had merciless editors when I was young. Anyway, I had a good, no-frills public education. One of my uncles went to the same schools and rose from poverty in Maury County to become a rocket scientist. Forty-something kids in a classroom when I was there; one teacher, no aides, no kindergarten. Then something happened.

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