| December 4, 2015

Free Market Friday: Oklahomans like school choice

Most Oklahoma voters like school choice, according to the latest Sooner Survey from the polling firm Cole Hargrave Snodgrass and Associates.

The survey asked simple questions: Do you favor or oppose school choice, is it important for Oklahoma, and what do you think of Education Savings Accounts?

Seventy percent said they favor school choice. That opinion crossed every party, age, gender, and geographic line – including 79 percent of Republicans and 60 percent of Democrats.

People under 45 – those most likely to be raising children – gave school choice a 75 percent approval mark. Those over 65, whose children are presumably long out of school, favored it at a 67 percent rate. Both rural and urban Oklahomans like school choice as well, at identical 70 percent rates.

Hopefully, the Supreme Court will agree with the 74 percent of Oklahomans that think the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship program for special-needs students is “a good thing for Oklahoma.”

Unsurprisingly, the strongest support for school choice comes from people at the lower end of the economic spectrum. Seventy-eight percent of those earning less than $50,000 per year want choices for their kids; which is not surprising, since those are the families that often have the fewest educational options.

When asked about ESAs, “which 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 other future college expenses,” the survey found 55 percent in favor.

In sum, “Oklahoma voters strongly embrace school choice and giving parents the right to use tax dollars to send their child to their choice of public or private schools,” pollster Pat McFerron said. “Elected legislative leaders should watch this issue closely as the public will demand more parental ability to choose the right school for their own child.”

If we truly care about the most vulnerable, then we will seek to expand choices in K-12 education. Doing so would put our common education system on parity with mental health, higher education, childcare and Medicaid programs which all offer robust public and private options to those who need the service.”

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