Tulsa Education: July 2008 Archives

Strategic Vision polled 1200 Oklahoma voters for the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. Here is the executive summary:

This scientifically representative poll of 1,200 likely Oklahoma voters measures public opinion on a wide range of K-12 education issues. The underlying theme of the Friedman Foundation's Survey in the State series is to measure voter attitudes toward their public institutions, leaders, innovative ideas, and the current K-12 power and priority structure.

In particular, Oklahomans have shared with us their views about "school choice" in the forms of taxcredit scholarships, school vouchers, charter schools and virtual schools. Results imply that voters like the idea of customizing the school selection process in a way that best meets the needs of a child and his or her family. So how high is the support for school choice reforms? Percentages favoring tax-credit scholarships, school vouchers, and charter schools are consistently in the 50s--generally and across nearly all subgroups.

In some cases, favorability to a particular school choice reform reaches the 60s. For example, 60 percent of African-Americans favor a scholarship granting system funded through business tax credits; 63 percent of African-Americans like charter schools; and 63 percent of Hispanics favor "allowing students and parents to choose any school, public or private, to attend using public funds."

School choice is not a partisan issue among voters in Oklahoma. Favorability spans political parties and political self-identification. Democrats, Independents, and Republicans favor publicly funded scholarship granting systems (through business or individual tax credits), school vouchers, and charter schools.

Proportions are very similar across these subgroups on school choice-related questions. In some cases, support is extraordinarily high: 61 percent of Democrats favor tax-credit scholarship legislation; 60 percent of Republicans and 58 percent of Independents favor a scholarship granting system funded through individual tax credits; and all three political groups are more likely to vote for rather than against a candidate who supports a tax-credit scholarship policy.

A total of 1,200 phone interviews were conducted by Strategic Vision, between April 25 and April 27, 2008. The margin of error for the full sample of likely voters is ± 3 percentage points; the margin of error is higher when considering the response percentages for a given demographic subgroup.

Key findings include:

  • About two-fifths of Oklahoma voters are not satisfied with the state's current public school system--41 percent rate Oklahoma's public school system as "poor" or "fair." Excluding the one of five voters who are undecided, this proportion rises to 51 percent.

  • Nearly two out of three Oklahomans are content with current levels of public school funding. A large majority of voters (64 percent) say Oklahoma's level of public school funding is either "too high" or "about right." At least 67 percent of the poll's respondents underestimate the state's actual per-pupil funding, which suggests that the funding satisfaction level is probably a conservative figure.

  • More than four out of five Oklahomans would prefer to send their child to a school other than a regular public school--only 17 percent say a regular public school is their top choice. This low figure is consistent with what we have learned from previous state polls asking the same question, most recently in Idaho (12 percent), Tennessee (15 percent), Nevada (11 percent), and Illinois (19 percent).

  • Oklahoma voters value private schools--they are more than twice as likely to prefer sending their child to a private school over any other school type. When asked "what type of school would you select in order to obtain the best education for your child?" 41 percent of respondents selected private schools. This finding is consistent with other recent state polls asking the same question: Idaho (39 percent), Tennessee (37 percent), Nevada (48 percent), and Illinois (39 percent).

  • Oklahomans like having a range of schooling options. Majorities express support for school vouchers (53 percent) and charter schools (54 percent), with many also open to virtual schools (40 percent), even though nearly a third of respondents stated they "have never heard of virtual, cyber, or online schools." School choice is not a partisan issue among likely voters. There is solid potential for building bridges between Democrats (D), Republicans (R), and Independents (I). Voters who identify themselves differently in terms of political affiliation are likely to have common views on various school choice reforms and policies spanning charter schools (D: 52 percent | R: 56 percent | I: 55 percent), virtual schools (D: 38 percent | R: 40 percent | I: 42 percent), school vouchers (D: 53 percent | R: 54 percent | I: 53 percent), or a generic public-funded school choice system (D: 55 percent | R: 53 percent | I: 56 percent).

  • More than half of voters are favorable to a tax-credit scholarship system. When asked "if a proposal were made in Oklahoma to create a tax-credit scholarship system," 54 percent say they favor a scholarship system funded by business charitable donations. A slightly higher figure (57 percent) say they favor a scholarship system funded by individual charitable donations.

  • Likely voters view recent tax-credit scholarship legislation positively--58 percent say they are favorable to such school choice legislation. Majorities cut across Democrats (61 percent), Republicans (55 percent), and Independents (53 percent).

  • Oklahomans are more likely to vote for a state representative, state senator or governor who supports a taxcredit scholarship system. Nearly twice as many voters say they are "more likely" (21 percent) rather than "less likely" (11 percent) to vote for such a candidate. Independents are nearly five times more likely to vote for a person supporting tax-credit scholarships (23 percent vs. 5 percent).

  • Knowledge about school vouchers is at a low baseline in Oklahoma--there is an information deficit about this type of system reform. Although a majority of Oklahoma's likely voters (55 percent) said they were either "very familiar" or "somewhat familiar" with school vouchers, there is still a lot of potential for educating citizens on the issue. This figure is comparable to what has been measured in other states such as Idaho (59 percent), Tennessee (45 percent), Nevada (55 percent), and Illinois (51 percent).

Read more about the battle for school in Oklahoma at the Choice Remarks blog.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa Education category from July 2008.

Tulsa Education: May 2008 is the previous archive.

Tulsa Education: December 2008 is the next archive.

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