Polls show growing support for school vouchers


They’re not a majority, but the percentage of the population that supports publicly-funded vouchers for private school tuition is growing, a couple polls say.

The AJC recently reported on the latest results from the Education Next poll affiliated with Harvard University and the Phi Delta Kappa International education poll, which has been around for half a century.

Neither found a majority of respondents in favor of vouchers, echoing the results of an AJC poll last fall that found ardent support among school choice advocates but not among respondents in general.

Yet a review of prior year results in the PDK poll shows support has been rising while opposition has been receding over the last several years,  writes Paul E. Peterson, a Harvard government and education professor who helped produce the Education Next poll.

“Opposition to ‘allowing parents to choose a private school at public expense’ fell from 70 percent in 2013 to 57 percent two years later down to 52 percent today, while those favoring choice climbed from 29 percent in 2013 to 39 percent in 2017.”

The Education Next poll, released in mid-August, found as many as 45 percent of respondents supporting vouchers versus 37 percent opposed. Support dropped when the question was phrased to emphasize the government’s role in paying for them or when the subsidy was said to be limited to low-income students, but Peterson noted that the overall balance shifted in favor of vouchers since the last poll in 2016.

Education Next didn't have data for Georgia, but the PDK poll did, and found the support for vouchers was 9 percentage points higher than the national average. At 48 percent, supporters were a plurality, but just barely, with 47 percent opposed. With a margin of error in excess of 5 percentage points in Georgia, either side could actually hold a majority.

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