Ed Next Poll: supporters of vouchers, tax credits and charters get good news

Published August 29, 2019

Results from the 13th annual Education Next Poll were released earlier this week and the findings should be of interest to anyone interested in American education.

The national poll includes responses from a representative sample of over 3,000 adults, as well as “an oversampling of teachers, African-Americans and those who identify themselves as Hispanic.”

The poll asks questions on a variety of topics including school spending, accountability, school choice, teacher unions, collective bargaining, common core and school grading.

Five key highlights from this year’s poll include:

  • Vouchers and Tax Credits. Support for students to cover the cost of tuition at private schools has increased from 37 percent in 2016 to 49 percent in 2019. In addition, support for tax credits for donations to organizations that give scholarships to low-income students continues to climb; with support registering at 58 percent in 2019, up from 53 percent in 2016.
  • Teacher Pay. While teachers continue to garner public support for higher wages, support levels vary. Among respondents who were not provided information on current salary levels, 72 percent of respondents said teacher salaries should increase, an increase of 5 percentage point over the previous year. Among respondents who had been provided information about current salary levels, 56 percent of respondents said salaries should increase, an increase of 20 percentage points in the past two years.
  • Charter Schools.  Support for charter schools has rebounded over the past two years. In 2017, 39 percent of respondents expressed public support for charter schools; in 2019, that number climbed to 48 percent. Hidden behind those totals however, is a growing divide among Democrats about Charters. While 61 percent of Republican respondents voiced support for charter schools, only 40 percent of Democrats support charters. A third of white Democrats (33 percent) favor charters. However, support is considerably higher among African American Democrats (55 percent) and Hispanics Democrats (47 percent).
  • Federal, State and Local School Spending. Public views on spending are a mixed bag. Respondents are more apt to support an increase in K-12 spending at the federal level than to support spending increases at either the state or local level. When told the share of state, local and federal dollars in school spending, 66 percent of respondents said, the federal government should contribute more to school spending. When respondents were told current spending levels, half of all respondents said the state should contribute more. Likewise, only 36 percent of respondents thought local districts should increase their expenditures.
  • Free College. An idea very popular among millennials and Democratic presidential hopefuls is gaining support with the public.  A full 60 percent of respondents want to make public four-year colleges free. Support for free-tuition at two-year colleges is even higher at 69 percent. Among Democrats, 79 percent support free college tuition at four-year colleges. When considering free tuition at two-year colleges, support jumps even higher to 85 percent of respondents.

The 2019 Education Next Poll offers a wealth of information about what the public thinks about their schools, American education and how public opinion has changed over time.

Find out more here.