FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Jan 30, 2015

Oklahomans favor various methods of giving parents more control over their child’s education

SoonerPoll, Oklahoma’s only independent, non-partisan pollster, was commissioned by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA) to conduct a scientific study to measure the perceptions of Oklahoma likely voters and their opinions and perceptions regarding the subject of school choice for Oklahoma parents.

Click here for complete question wording/crosstabs

The scientific study was conducted from January 5 through January 28, 2015 and included 506 likely Oklahoma voters age 18+ selected at random from across the state to participate in the survey with a dual frame of landline telephone and cell phones.   The study carried a margin of error (MoE) of ±4.34%.

Key Findings:

  • A strong majority of Oklahoma likely voters (58.3%) would actually prefer to choose an alternative form of school for their children, such as private or parochial schools, charter schools, or homeschooling, to receive a better education than traditional public schools.
    • A plurality of respondents (43.2%) would choose to send their child to a private or parochial school in order to receive the best education.
    • Younger Oklahoma voters, those under the age of 45, were considerably less likely to want to choose a traditional public school for their children to receive the best education. Less than one third of these individuals would choose to send their children to a traditional public school.
    • Additionally, voters residing in the Tulsa and Oklahoma City metropolitan areas were also much less likely to choose to send their children to a traditional public school in order to receive the best education.  Over half of the voters for both MSA’s would choose a private or parochial school if given the opportunity.
  • Over half of Oklahoma likely voters (56.2%) are in favor of charter schools, which control their own budget, staff, and curriculum, and are exempt from many existing public school regulations.
    • In fact, more than 1 in 4 voters (27.4%) “Strongly Favor” the use of public charter schools.
    • Voters in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa MSA’s favored charter schools by 10 or more points compared to voters throughout the rest of the state.
  • Almost half of Oklahoma likely voters (49.6%) were in favor of a “parent trigger” policy that would allow parents of children at a low-performing performing public school to petition for some form of accountability action to take place.
    • Of Oklahoma voters between the ages of 25 and 44, those adults most likely to have school-age children of their own, a large majority (57.7%) indicated they were in favor of a “parent trigger” policy.
  • A majority of Oklahoma likely voters (53.9%) stated they were in favor of a “school voucher” system, where parents are given the option to send their child to any school of their choosing.
    • Almost 1 in 3 Oklahoma voters indicated that they “Strongly Favor” the use of a “school voucher” system.
  • An even greater percentage of Oklahoma voters (62.4%) believed a “tax-credit scholarship” system would be favorable, where individuals and businesses receive tax benefits for contributing money to non-profits that distribute private school scholarships.
    • While a majority of all parties favored this system, a much higher percentage of Republicans (68.5%) and Independents (66.3%) favored a “tax-credit scholarship” system than Democrats (53.9%).
  • The largest number of voters (63.9%) actually favored the individual tax-credit system, which gives parents tax relief for money they spend on educational expenses, i.e. private school tuition, tutoring, online learning, etc.
    • Independents (80.4%) and Republicans (67.7%) were considerably more likely to favor the individual tax-credit system than Democrats (56%).
  • Another majority of Oklahoma voters (55.6%) indicated they would favor an “education savings account,” or ESA, system, where parents receive a payment into a government-authorized savings account with restricted, but multiple uses for their children’s’ education.
    • Over 2/3 of all Oklahoma voters under the age of 45 indicated they were in favor of an ESA system of school choice.
  • A very large percentage of Oklahoma voters (68.2%) agreed that ESAs should be available to all families, regardless of incomes and special needs.
    • There was not a single significant sub-group of individuals who did not agree that ESAs should be available to every family.
  • Lastly, after hearing arguments for and against educational choice programs, over half of Oklahoma likely voters (52.5%) indicated they were for a parent’s power to choose a school that best works for their child.
    • More than one third of Oklahoma voters (36.8%) indicated they were “Strongly for the power of choice” when it came to letting parents decide which school would best fit their child’s education.
    • 58.6% of Republicans and 63% of Independents believed in a parent’s power to choose the best education for their child, compared to 42.9% of Democrats, who were more inclined to believe that school choice robs public schools of needed funds.

About the Poll

The poll of 506 likely voters in Oklahoma was conducted January 5-22, 2015 by live interviewer and included 113 cellphone and 349 landline users. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.34 percentage points, and was commissioned by the Oklahoma Council for Public Affairs (OCPA).

Poll results were weighted by age and congressional district, stratified by Oklahoma likely voters statewide. This poll conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls. A complete description of the methodology can be found here.

The poll’s Call Disposition and Rate Calculation report can be viewed here.