Broad Cross Section of Wisconsin Voters Want School Choice Universal
For Immediate Release
February 22, 2022
Wisconsin voters strongly support making all families eligible for the state’s school choice programs and favor ending funding inequities between choice, charter, and traditional public schools. These are among key findings on education issues in a scientific, random sample poll conducted earlier this month by one of the nation’s leading opinion research firms.
“Parents want more options. They want to be more involved. It’s as simple as that,” said Nic Kelly, President of School Choice Wisconsin.
The poll showed support for school choice across the political spectrum. While strong Republican support is unsurprising, noteworthy is solid majority support among independents and sizable support among Democrats.
SCW retained OnMessage Inc. to conduct the poll. The firm’s national recognition includes being named “Pollster of the Year” in 2019 by the American Association of Political Consultants (https://theaapc.org).
Wisconsin parents have four tax-supported options for enrolling children in K-12 schools. They are: (1) traditional public schools in the district where a family lives; (2) traditional public schools in districts other than where a family lives; (3) public charter schools; and (4) private schools in one of the state school choice programs. All parents may participate in the first three options, while the private choice programs are limited largely to lower income families.
Taxpayer support of charter schools and choice schools is about 60% of traditional school funding. Students at these schools generally outperform those in traditional public schools on state proficiency exams. Students in choice programs consistently score higher on the college-readiness ACT test. In Milwaukee, the state’s Department of Public Instruction finds that twice as many choice and charter students attend highly-ranked schools when compared with students in the Milwaukee Public Schools.
The following are highlights of voter sentiment regarding: support of school choice programs; making all families eligible; and ending the funding disparity between charter, choice, and traditional public schools. For each topic the questions posed to voters are presented along with responses.
Support of School Choice Programs
THE WISCONSIN SCHOOL CHOICE PROGRAM ALLOWS LOWER-INCOME PARENTS TO SEND THEIR CHILD TO A PRIVATE SCHOOL OF THEIR CHOICE. PRIVATE SCHOOLS MUST MEET A STRICT SET OF REGULATIONS FOR STUDENT SAFETY, STANDARDIZED TESTING, PUBLIC AUDITS AND PUBLICLY REPORTING STUDENT PERFORMANCE. KNOWING THIS, DOES IT MAKE YOU FAVOR OR OPPOSE THE WISCONSIN SCHOOL CHOICE PROGRAM?
6.4% Don’t Know/Refused
Seventy-seven per cent of those identifying as Republicans expressed support, as did a majority (53%) of independents and 36% of Democrats.
NOW I’M GOING TO READ YOU A FEW THINGS ABOUT THE WISCONSIN SCHOOL CHOICE PROGRAM. PLEASE TELL ME IF IT MAKES YOU MORE OR LESS LIKELY TO SUPPORT THE PROGRAM. STUDENTS IN WISCONSIN’S SCHOOL CHOICE PROGRAM SCORE HIGHER ON STATE TESTS THAN TRADITIONAL PUBLIC-SCHOOL STUDENTS, SCORE HIGHER ON THE COLLEGE READINESS TEST, KNOWN AS THE ACT TEST, ARE MORE LIKELY TO GRADUATE HIGH SCHOOL AND ARE LESS LIKELY TO GET INVOLVED IN CRIME.
68.2% More Likely
17.9% Less Likely
8.4% No Difference
5.6% Don’t Know/Refused
Seventy-nine percent of those identifying as Republicans expressed support, as did 63% of independents and 43% of Democrats.
PLEASE TELL ME IF YOU AGREE OR DISAGREE WITH THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT. “CURRENTLY ONLY LOW-INCOME FAMILIES ARE ELIGIBLE FOR SCHOOL CHOICE VOUCHERS IN THE STATEWIDE PROGRAM. INCOME RESTRICTIONS NEED TO BE DROPPED SO THAT EVERY WISCONSIN FAMILY HAS THE ABILITY TO SEND THEIR CHILDREN TO A SCHOOL THAT’S BEST FOR THEM.”
4.3% Don’t Know/Refused
PLEASE TELL ME IF YOU AGREE OR DISAGREE WITH THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT. “CHARTER AND CHOICE SCHOOLS HAVE BETTER ACADEMIC RESULTS COMPARED TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS YET RECEIVE LESS THAN TWO-THIRDS OF THE AMOUNT OF PUBLIC FUNDING TRADITIONAL PUBLIC SCHOOLS RECEIVE. IT IS TIME TO FULLY FUND CHARTER AND CHOICE SCHOOLS.”
7/8% Don’t Know/Refused
This survey was conducted by OnMessage Inc. in Wisconsin. Telephone interviews were conducted on February 13-16. This survey consists of 700 likely voters and was stratified to reflect historical voter trends and the margin of error is +/- 3.70%.