Here are more telling details from the education choice polling data and study of which we were a party and released yesterday: Paul DiPerna, research director for The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, wrote in his study that the research indicates:
a major disconnect between Virginia’s schooling preferences and actual school enrollments. … As in other states where we have surveyed, the implication of these results is that Virginia does not have a sufficient school choice system in place to match parents’ schooling preferences. (See the entire report here.)
The survey polled 1,203 likely voters and was conducted from October 1-4. The margin of error was plus or minus 2.8 percent points. (See today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch for coverage of yesterday’s study release news conference.) The results illustrate the vast support in Virginia for a program of income tax credits for donations to scholarship foundations that, in turn, provide funds to qualifying students to attend a school of their choice instead of an assigned public school.
Of course, common sense and public opinion never guarantee a thing, and this issue is living proof — for years the General Assembly has refused to pass legislation to enable such foundations to fully unleash their potential to provide more students better education options. But the results of this study will be a much needed resupply of ammunition that we and several partner organizations will use this coming session and beyond. For example:
» 65 percent of Virginians support tax-credit scholarships, while only 22 percent oppose.
» 57 percent of Virginians favor school vouchers, while only 35 percent oppose.
Even when broken down by party affiliation, Virginians strongly support tax-credit scholarships and vouchers:
» 64 percent of Democrats, 68 percent of Republicans and 66 percent of independents support tax-credit scholarships.
» 53 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of Republicans and 58 percent of independents support school vouchers.
» 81 percent of Democrats, 79 percent of Republicans and 76 percent of independents support special needs school vouchers.
Additionally, the favor-oppose margins are large among the parties:
» On tax-credit scholarships, it’s +43 among Democrats, +46 among Republicans and +44 among independents.
» On school vouchers, it’s +15 among Democrats, +39 among Republicans and +22 among independents.
» On special needs school vouchers, it’s +67 among Democrats, +64 among Republicans and +60 among independents.
Education reform will be an issue to watch this session. With school choice a major issue in the recent campaign and a new philosophy at the helm of state government, sound ideas, such as those Virginians overwhelmingly support in this study, may have their best chance in years to get a much needed foothold in Virginia’s education system.