Opinions on vouchers vary widely depending on how the question is phrased.
According to the annual survey conducted by Gallup for Phi Delta Kappa, an educators’ group, 54 percent of the public oppose school vouchers; 42 percent favors “allowing students and parents to choose a private school to attend at public expense.” Yet 43 percent would be more likely to support a pro-voucher candidate, 37 percent less likely. Some 57 percent of public school parents said they’d use a full voucher to send their children to private school; 38 percent would stick with public school and the rest are undecided. If the voucher paid half the tuition cost, 45 percent said they’d choose private school; 50 percent would choose public school.
Half of the sample was asked the more negative PDK question, “do you favor or oppose allowing students and parents to choose a private school to attend at public expense?” Only 41 percent supported school vouchers when presented this way. The other half was asked the more neutral question “do you favor or oppose allowing students and parents to choose any school, public or private, to attend using public funds?” The support was significantly higher with 63 percent supporting school vouchers.
According to the Friedman/Wirthlin survey, about 60 percent of Americans (68 percent of Republicans and 54 percent of Democrats) would be more likely to vote for a candidate supporting school choice. Nearly 70 percent of African-American Democrats surveyed would be more likely to vote for a candidate supporting school choice; overall, 80 percent of African-Americans surveyed favor school choice.
The PDK survey focuses on No Child Left Behind, finding opposition to the testing provisions of the law — as described by the pollsters — but strong support for the law as a whole. Here’s Gadfly’s analysis. And Eduwonk, which says all sides slant the poll questions.