New Poll Shows Bipartisan Support in Texas Against Education Voucher Proposals
Austin— The more Texans learn about voucher programs, the less likely they are to support them, according to a new poll by the Texas Association of School Boards, which surveyed attitudes across the state on proposals to divert taxpayer money into private, religious, virtual, or home schools.
“These results highlight bipartisan support against shifting public money into a new, costly entitlement program that would mostly benefit wealthy families in urban areas to the detriment of our public schools,” said TASB Executive Director Dan Troxell. “At the same time, the poll shows that Texans want their elected officials to make public education a priority this legislative session with the focus at the Capitol to be on raising teacher salaries.”
The poll of 804 registered voters was conducted in February on behalf of TASB by Perception Insight, an Austin-based opinion research firm. Among those responding, 48% reported voting for Republicans most often, compared to 30% indicating a preference for Democrats. Another 14% reported voting independent of party.
“Regardless of party affiliation, the majority (55%) of those responding to the poll reported being less likely to support vouchers knowing that these proposals would give private schools, not parents, the right to choose,” Troxell said. “There’s also a concern among a majority of those polled that vouchers or education savings accounts would operate outside of any taxpayer accountability on academic performance.”
Among the voucher proposals being considered during the legislative session are ones that would exclude rural districts, where private school options are few and far between. But when asked about whether a rural and/or small district exclusion would sway their opinion on voucher programs, those responding to the poll came out nearly even with 35% in opposition and 34% in support. Another 31% said it “depends” or they were “unsure.”
“Lawmakers should listen to Texans, who aren’t buying what the voucher supporters are selling. Creating a voucher program that would harm rural communities to benefit children in urban and suburban areas isn’t a Texas value,” said Troxell. “We need to look at strengthening all of our public schools, not looking for ways to further polarize our communities.”
Other major poll findings include:
Texans support their local public school teachers with nearly 70% reporting a positive impression of the educators in their school district.
When asked about whether the state of Texas currently provides enough funding to public schools, 56% reported no, compared to only 35% who believe funding is adequate.
When asked to rank education priorities for elected leaders, school safety was the number one item on the list, followed by curriculum/instruction. Concerns over library books came in last.
Troxell said the poll was done to provide additional research on the attitudes of Texans after TASB members already came out against vouchers in their Advocacy Agenda, approved last September at the Delegate Assembly.
“Across the state, among our active members — all 1,025 school boards — there’s strong consensus that vouchers or educational savings accounts would do real harm to our public school students and waste taxpayer money,” he said. “As the largest group of elected officials in the state, we hope that Austin lawmakers prioritize the issues we know need attention — namely teacher salaries, school safety, and special education services. Vouchers would create new problems — not solutions.”
TASB is a nonprofit organization established in 1949 to serve local Texas school boards. School board members are the largest group of publicly elected officials in the state. The districts they represent serve more than 5.4 million public school students.