March 9, 2016
Madison Grady

Oklahomans continue to support school choice, education savings accounts

Currently, the Oklahoma legislature is considering legislation to create Education Savings Accounts, or ESAs, a plan that would provide Oklahoma parents with the ability to choose the best school for their child.

According to the most recent SoonerPoll Quarterly Poll, 56.3 percent of likely voting Oklahomans supported ESAs in Oklahoma, one-in-six didn't have an opinion, and only 26.8 percent opposed the idea.  While 63 percent of Republicans supported ESAs, 45 percent of Democrats did as well.

This is not the first time SoonerPoll has polled on this issue.  In January of last year, 55 percent supported the idea of ESAs, with 68.2 percent agreeing ESAs should be available to all families, regardless of incomes and special needs.

"Time and time again, poll after poll, it is undeniable that Oklahomans see the value in providing choice and options for parents with regard to their child's education," said Bill Shapard, founder of SoonerPoll.

[QUESTION] Education Savings Accounts—often called ESAs— would allow parents to take a portion of the yearly state funding which is currently used to educate their child in a traditional public school and create a personalized account to fund their child’s education expenses. These expenses could be customized to include private or parochial school tuition, online education programs, tutoring, and books, and future college expenses. These Education Savings Accounts would be administered and overseen by the state and would contain taxpayer protections against fraudulent activity or misuse of funds.  Would you say that you SUPPORT or OPPOSE the creation of Education Savings Accounts?

1. Strongly support 28.9
2. Somewhat support 27.4
3. Don't know/refused [DNR] 17.0
4. Somewhat oppose12.5
5. Strongly oppose 14.3

While ESAs might be the plan for delivering school choice in Oklahoma, it should be noted that Oklahomans overwhelmingly favored the idea of school choice.  When asked about the concept of school choice, in general, 69 percent of likely voting Oklahomans favored it and only 18 percent opposed it.

[QUESTION] Thinking about education in Oklahoma, school 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 better serves their needs.  Generally speaking, do you FAVOR or OPPOSE the concept of school choice?  [PROBE: STRONGLY/SOMEWHAT]

1. Strongly favor 43.0
2. Somewhat favor 25.6
3. Don't know/refused [DNR] 13.3
4. Somewhat oppose 7.2
5. Strongly oppose 10.9

Further results revealed that while 71 percent of conservatives favored school choice, 62 percent of moderates, and 63 percent of liberals did as well.

"Oklahomans see that, when kids are trapped in failing schools, we are denying them the fundamental American right of 'equality of opportunity,'" said Shapard.  "Voters know when parents are able to pick the best school for their children, that public education overall in Oklahoma will finally begin to improve."

About the Poll, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, asked these questions of Oklahoma likely voters as part of the SoonerPoll Quarterly Poll.

The scientific study was conducted from February 9-12, 2016 with 410 likely Oklahoma voters selected at random statewide from a dual frame of both landline telephone and cell phones. 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 ±4.84 percent and was commissioned by the Oklahoma Council Of Public Affairs.

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