September 15, 2011
Wesley Burt

Likely Oklahoma voters do not see good return on education spending investments

A majority of likely Oklahoma voters do not feel they are receiving a good return on their investment of $8,400 per student a year in education spending.

Poll respondents were asked, "According to official state data, education spending in Oklahoma is approximately $8,400 per student. Are taxpayers getting a good return on their investment of $8,400 per student per year?"

Results reveal that 62.4 percent of respondents said no, while just 22.9 percent said yes. Another 14.8 percent of respondents had no opinion.

"It's a pretty sobering indictment of the status quo," said Brandon Dutcher, vice president for policy at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA), "and this is using the government's own spending data. If voters knew the real cost of education which, as OCPA has demonstrated, is north of $10,000 per student. I suspect the return-on-investment results would be even lower."

Further analysis reveals that 58.9 percent of Democrats say they are not receiving a good return, which makes them 6.1 points less likely to be unsatisfied than Republicans. Results also indicate that 73.3 percent of Independents are dissatisfied, which makes them 8.3 points more likely to be dissatisfied than Republicans.

When results are broken down by political label, a different trend emerges. Results show that 64.8 percent of liberals feel they are not receiving a good return, compared to 63.5 percent of conservatives. An even lower percentage of moderates, 59.1 percent, feel they are not receiving a good return on investment.

Interestingly, just 17.9 percent of liberals say they are receiving a good return, compared to 22.2 percent conservatives and 28.4 percent of moderates.

"We have a bipartisan consensus among taxpayers that they're not getting a good return on their investment," said Dutcher. "Couple this with earlier SoonerPoll data showing that voters overwhelmingly believe more school spending won't improve student performance, and it's clear policymakers need to try something else. I would suggest that they continue to look to the one reform that consistently has shown to improve public schools: school choice.", Oklahoma's public opinion pollster, was commissioned for this poll by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. conducted the scientific poll July 25-Aug. 11. Likely Oklahoma voters were selected at random and given the opportunity to participate in the poll by phone or online. Of the 587 respondents who participated, 17 took the survey online and 570 responded via telephone interview. The margin of error is ±4.04 percentage points.

Wesley Burt
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Wesley Burt