12/03/2022
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RALEIGH – A new Civitas poll finds that overall, parents want to be able to choose the education that they believe is the best fit for their children.

A strong majority of participants, 62 percent, say that if they could, they would enroll their child in a private, charter, magnet, or home school.

“Our poll results tell us the same thing we’ve been hearing for years: parents want more choice in education,” said Civitas Education Policy Analyst Dr. Robert Luebke. “They want to be able to choose where their child attends school.  When 62 percent of parents say – if they could – they would enroll their child in a private, charter, magnet or home school, this means many families are not happy with the current educational options.”

This poll also shows that 63 percent agree that parents should be empowered to make the best education choices for their children via Education Savings Accounts.

“If you’re a supporter of expanding educational options for parents, you can’t help but be encouraged by our recent poll results,” said Dr. Luebke. “We all know there are good and not-so-good public schools.  What these poll results reflect is what happens to children who are trapped in those schools or in schools that aren’t a good fit for their children.”

An overwhelming 87 percent of those polled agree that “Parents have the right to choose a school for their child that will best meet their child’s educational needs and supports their values.”

The full text of these questions can be found below:

If it were your decision and you could select any type of school, what type of school would
you select in order to obtain the best education for your child?

7/15      11/15

34%      32%      Traditional Public School
31%      28%      Private School
8%       7%       Home School
19%      17%      Public Charter School
1%       1%       Virtual Charter School
10%      Magnet School
2%       2%       Other
5%       3%       Don’t Know
—          —          Refused

3/12   2/13   3/13

35%   49%  41%   Traditional Public School
32%   26%  34%   Private School
7%    6%    5%    Home School
16%   14%  13%   Public Charter School
—       1%    1%    Virtual Charter School
1%    1%    1%    Other
8%    3%    5%    Don’t Know
1%    —       1%    Refused

Please tell me which of the following phrases comes to mind when you think of the term “Education Savings Accounts?”

33%      Empowering parents to take control of their child’s education.
13%      Weakening the public schools.
19%      Tax benefit for middle class parents
26%      Providing educational opportunities to needy or disadvantaged students.
12%      Customized education
24%      Need for accountability
5%       None of the above
12%      Don’t Know
1%       Refused

A new program to fund education is being proposed in many states. Education Savings Accounts – or ESAs as they are commonly known – allow state funds to be used by parents to create a personal account to pay for K though 12 education expense, including; tuition, tutoring testing, fees and books.  Would you say you would support or oppose an Education Savings Account program?

63%      Total Support
30%      Total Oppose
38%      Strongly Support
25%      Somewhat Support
10%      Somewhat Oppose
20%      Strongly Oppose
8%       Don’t Know/ Need More Information
—          Refused

Please tell me which of the following opinions comes closer to your own…  

50%      (Some/ Other) people say that every child deserves a quality education that meets his or her needs and parents should be empowered to choose the best school options for their children. They say that with an Education Savings Account, parents can have a flexible approach to their child’s learning and that that will give every child in North Carolina the chance to reach his or her full potential.

41%      (Other/ Some) people say that North Carolina needs to focus on improved funding for our existing public schools. They say that if our schools were better funded, they would do a better job teaching students. They add that giving parents the option to take their children out of public schools hurts public education in the long run.

7%       Don’t Know
1%       Refused

And which of the following portion of that statement is MOST important to you from that opinion?

38%      Every child deserves a quality education that meets his or her needs.
38%      Parents should be empowered to choose the best school options for their children.
21%      With an Education Savings Account, parents can have a flexible approach to their child’s learning and that that will give every child in North Carolina the chance to reach his or her full potential.
3%       Don’t Know
—          Refused

And which of the following portion of that statement is MOST important to you from that opinion?

46%      North Carolina needs to focus on improved funding for our existing public schools.
35%      If our schools were better funded, they would do a better job teaching students
16%      Giving parents the option to take their children out of public schools hurts public education in the long run.
2%       Don’t Know
1%       Refused

In North Carolina, some schools fail to provide a quality education to students. When that happens, in your opinion, which of the following reasons BEST explains why parents continue to send a child to substandard or failing schools?

14%      Parents are unaware that the school is failing.
22%      There are no other appropriate or better education options in the area.
47%      Parents don’t have the resources to access a better school, like a private school, charter school, or homeschooling.
10%      Parents are committed to enrolling student in public schools.
7%       Don’t Know
1%       Refused

Please tell me if you agree or disagree with the following statement, “While it’s unfair to expect every school to be everything to every child, there are too many children in failing schools in North Carolina. Children are hurt when their parents can’t choose what’s best for their children. When our schools fail, we rob our children of a bright future.”

78%      Total Agree
16%      Total Disagree
56%      Strongly Agree
22%      Somewhat Agree
7%       Somewhat Disagree
10%      Strongly Disagree
5%       Undecided/Don’t Know
1%       Refused

In your opinion, which of the following is the BEST way to address the problem of students attending substandard or failing schools in North Carolina?

17%      Provide additional funds to high-performing public schools so that more students can enroll.
35%      Develop statewide education options that use proven models and practices to improve student performance.
23%      Provide private school tuition vouchers to allow students to attend a public or private school of his or her choice.
12%      Create state-funded Education Savings Accounts that allow parents to purchase education services and products for their children, like tuition, tutoring, books and online classes.
10%      Don’t Know
3%       Refused

Please tell me if you agree or disagree with the following statement, “Parents have the right to choose a school for their child that will best meet their child’s educational needs and supports their values.”

87%      Total Agree
9%        Total Disagree
64%      Strongly Agree
23%      Somewhat Agree
5%       Somewhat Disagree
4%       Strongly Disagree
3%       Undecided/Don’t Know
1%       Refused

And which of the following statements best represents your views on this issue

24%      Choosing a school is a fundamental right of parents.
38%      When a public school isn’t meeting the needs of a child, a parent should have more options because they know their children best.
14%      Parental rights are important, assuming exercising them doesn’t adversely impact school finances.
20%      Parental rights are important, but they need to be balanced against the goals of society.
3%       Don’t Know
1%       Refused

And which of the following statements best represents your views on this issue

10%      Parental rights are co-equal with the rights of the state to educate children.
9%       Individual parents don’t have the right to overrule the way our school system has been set up.
67%      The public schools are the glue that builds our democracy.  To strengthen our nation we must strengthen our public schools.
10%      Since parents sometimes make the wrong choice for their children, parental rights should not trump the rights of the state regarding education.
5%       Don’t Know
—          Refused

When considering your child’s education which of the following factors do you consider to be the most important in choosing a school?

75%      The school must meet the child’s educational needs and prepares them for college or the work world.
20%      The school must reflect the values which the parent wants the child to model as an adult.
4%       Don’t Know
1%       Refused

If you had to grade North Carolina public schools overall, what letter grade would you give them, from A to F?

5%       A
21%      B
43%      C
15%      D
9%       F
1%       Incomplete
6%       Don’t Know
—          Refused

In your opinion, which of the following is the North Carolina Public School System’s greatest accomplishment?

18%      Providing educational opportunities to the poor and disadvantaged.
19%      Providing a challenging environment for all students to learn.
25%      Preparing students for college or the world of work.
18%      Creating an environment where students from all backgrounds learn respect for each other and America’s Democratic ideals.
17%      Don’t Know
4%       Refused

In your opinion, which of the following is the North Carolina Public School System’s greatest failure?

23%      Failure to properly educate our young people.
21%      Failure to provide an academically challenging environment for all students.
15%      Failure to instill common values.
26%      Failure to teach the basics and what students need to know.
11%      Don’t Know
3%       Refused

Education Vouchers and Education Scholarship Accounts are instruments that allow parents to send their children to the school of their choice. They are made possible by having a portion of what government would normally spend to educate that child in a traditional public school follow the child. Would you support or oppose allowing all families to be eligible to receive a voucher or an Education Savings Account for their children.

60%      Total Support
31%      Total Oppose
 39%      Strongly Support
21%      Somewhat Support
9%       Somewhat Oppose
22%      Strongly Oppose
8%       Don’t Know/ Need More Information
1%       Refused

And, would you support or oppose this proposal if children from low-income families were awarded a larger Voucher or Education Savings Account to help them better afford educational options expenses?

58%      Total Support
34%      Total Oppose
34%      Strongly Support
23%      Somewhat Support
11%      Somewhat Oppose
22%      Strongly Oppose
7%       Don’t Know/ Need More Information
2%       Refused

(Due to rounding, totals may not equal 100.)

Crosstabs can be found here.

The poll surveyed etc. 600 registered voters (30% on cell phones) with a margin of error of +/- 4.00%. This survey was taken November 10-12, 2015.

Civitas conducts the only regular live-caller voting in North Carolina, and we are the only organization offering independent, nonpartisan data on current opinion. In the decade we’ve been conducting them, our polls have provided vital insights on what North Carolina voters truly think of the leaders and issues facing the state and nation.

Founded in 2005, the Civitas Institute is a Raleigh, NC-based, 501(c)(3) nonprofit policy organization committed to creating a North Carolina whose citizens enjoy liberty and prosperity derived from limited government, personal responsibility and civic engagement. To that end, Civitas develops and advocates for conservative policy solutions to improve the lives of all North Carolinians. 

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