August 10, 2016
Madison Grady

Majority of Oklahomans believe parents, not government, have the moral right to determine a child's path

Oklahomans continue to express support for educational choice, according to the most recent Quarterly Poll from SoonerPoll. More than half of Oklahoma likely voters favored school choice and parents' moral right to determine their child's education path. Slightly more than one-third of likely voters opposed, believing that educational choice drains money from public schools.

"Time and time again, we've asked Oklahoma voters in a variety of way about the concept of school choice," said Bill Shapard, CEO of SoonerPoll, "and a majority continue to support it."

[QUESTION] Educational choice gives parents the right to use tax dollars associated with their child's education to send their child to the public or private school which best serves their needs. Some people favor educational choice because they believe that parents, not government officials, have the moral right to determine a child's path. Other people oppose educational choice because they believe it drains money from public schools and allows only a select few students to choose a different school.  Which viewpoint comes closest to your own?

1. FAVOR - parents have the moral right to choose 51.5%
2. OPPOSE - it drains money from public schools 37.3
3. Undecided [DNR] 11.2

“For months, Oklahomans have heard the narrative that public schools need more money,” said Jonathan Small, president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA). “Yet even when we are constantly told money is the answer to all problems, this SoonerPoll survey—which also shows the Boren tax increase proposal ahead comfortably—shows a majority of Oklahomans still favor educational choice. Oklahomans understand that education dollars should follow the student and want to see it become a reality.”

Among Republicans, 64.1 percent favored school choice, while only 24.2 percent oppose. Nearly four-in-ten Democrats supported it as well. Republicans make up just about half of the Oklahoma electorate with roughly 43 percent of Democrats.

Support for school choice was higher in urban areas of the state, with 55.9 and 58.7 percent supportive in Tulsa and Oklahoma City respectively. A plurality of rural likely voters, 46.4 percent, supported it as well. A majority of support was also observed in every age group subset, except for those 55-64 years of age at 45.8 percent.

Support was high among those likely voters who attend church weekly or more with 59.1 percent, and 63.4 percent among self-identified evangelical voters. Both evangelicals and weekly or more church attendees make up half of the Oklahoma electorate.

Craig Eidson, pastor of Freedom Church in Piedmont, is a supporter of educational choice. “My wife and I have homeschooled, used private schooling, and had our children in the public school system,” he said. “We believe that utilizing all three methods allowed for a great education for our kids. However, it would have benefited us greatly as parents to have been able to offset the cost with an education savings account, tax break, or other means to help with the costs involved in homeschooling and private schooling. It’s a bit unfair to have to pay twice if you should choose to homeschool or use a private school. I am very excited about the prospect of school choice for everyone, especially for those who have no other way to provide alternative means of education.”

About the Poll, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, asked these questions of Oklahoma likely voters as part of the SoonerPoll Quarterly Poll, and was commissioned by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA).

The scientific study was conducted from July 20-25, 2016 with 398 likely Oklahoma voters selected at random statewide from a tri-frame of both landline telephone and cell phones, plus a online panel from Research Now. The sample was weighted by age, congressional district and gender in order to reflect the Oklahoma likely voter population for a general election.

The sample reflects the traditional demographical profile of the Oklahoma likely voter with roughly half of respondents identifying as conservative and attending religious services once or more per week. The study has a Margin of Error (MoE) of ±4.91 percent.

This poll not only conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls but exceeds the standard disclosure with a Call Disposition and Rate Calculation Report. A complete description of the methodology can be found here.

The poll's Call Disposition and Rate Calculation Report can be viewed here. A beta version of the Weighting Table Report can be viewed here.


Madison Grady
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Madison Grady