VOUCHING FOR A BETTER EDUCATION: Democrats are divided over school choice as the Trump Administration gains traction concerning school vouchers and tax-credit scholarships.

Author:Peterson, Paul E.
Position:EDUCATION
 
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DEMOCRATIC presidential candidates proposing "free" college and pay increases for teachers will find backing for these policies among voters, but school vouchers and tax credits to fund scholarships to private schools also are popular, the 13th annual Education Next poll of American public opinion on education policy finds.

Support for raising teacher pay is higher now than at any point during the past decade. On school choice, Democrats are divided along racial and ethnic lines, with African-Americans and Hispanics more likely to support charter schools and school vouchers. Tax-credit scholarships, along the lines proposed by the Trump Administration, command bipartisan backing.

This year's Education Next poll also for the first time presents the views of high school students, who rate their schools less favorably than their parents and are less likely to support measures to strengthen security. The survey includes a nationally representative sample of adults and representative over-samples of teachers, African-Americans, and Hispanics.

Among the key findings:

* Support grows for vouchers and tax credits. Public backing for vouchers targeted to low-income families has risen 12 percentage points since 2016, to 49% (41% opposed) from 37% (48% opposed). Republican support has gone up 13 percentage points to 44%, while opposition has fallen to 50% during the same time period. Democratic support has jumped to 52% today from 42% in 2016.

Public support for vouchers that give all families a wider choice has increased to 55% today from 44% in 2016. Republican support for universal vouchers has gained 20 percentage points over the last four years, to 61%. Democratic support for universal vouchers has inched up to 52%, with 40% opposed, compared to 49% and 39% in 2016.

Tax credits to fund private-school scholarships are the most-popular form of school choice, with 58% of the general public in favor (26% opposed) compared to 53% in favor (29% opposed) in 2016. Tax-credit scholarships enjoy bipartisan backing, with 65% of Republicans and 56% of Democrats in favor (22% and 29% opposed, respectively).

* Charter schools regain public support. Public support for charter schools has climbed back to 48% (39% opposed) from a low of 39% in 2017. These public schools of choice foster stronger opinions than in years past, as fewer respondents take a neutral position this year than in any year since we began asking this question in 2013. Sixty-one percent of...

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