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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

PDK: 1/3 of parents prefer public schools

Fifty-two percent of Americans oppose “allowing students and parents to choose a private school to attend at public expense” in the 2017 PDK Poll.

However, only 54 percent of public-school parents would turn down a full-tuition voucher to send their child to a private or religious school; 39 percent would use the voucher and the rest are undecided.

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Overall, “if cost and location were not issues, just one-third of parents say they’d pick a traditional public school over a private school (31%), public charter school (17%), or a religious school (14%),” PDK reports.

The survey’s “secret” finding is that support for vouchers is rising and opposition is falling, write Paul Peterson, who directs Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance. Support rose by “10 percentage points over the past four years, with 8 of those percentage points gained since 2015,” he writes in Education Next. “Meanwhile, voucher opposition fell by 18 percentage points over this same four-year time period.”

The wording of the survey question, which discourages support for vouchers, hasn’t changed over the years, writes Peterson.

. . . (Democrats’) level of support leaped from 16% to 31%. For those who said they were Independents, the shift upward was from 29% to 42%.

The 2017 Education Next poll  also found public opinion shifting toward vouchers.

Respondents to the PDK poll also said teaching interpersonal skills and technology are more important measures of school quality than test scores.

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