Poll: 62% of parents support school choice, but over half cite a lack of information on it

(The Center Square) – More than six out of every 10 voters with children under 18 would be receptive to the prospect of their child attending a school outside of their locally zoned public district, a new State Policy Network poll finds.

Overall, the SPN State Voices opinion poll of roughly 2,000 registered voters conducted in partnership with Morning Consult through online interviews found that 62% of respondents said they would be interested in such an option, some 30% of them very much so.

“I’m not surprised about the findings,” SPN messaging strategist Erin Norman told The Center Square. “Parents usually give good marks to their local schools, but that doesn’t mean a school is right for their child, and now with so many options they’re looking for the best fit. We have conditioned ourselves for choice and customization.”

Norman said the greatest variable slowing most parents from following through on their desire for change has to do with finances.

“A lot of families planned on using free public schools, and now some of the options they may be interested in at are a little more than free,” she said. “I think most public schools got the message about parents being open a couple years ago, and now understand they need to include parents more in what they’re doing. While I don’t think you’ll see the vast majority of parents sending their kids out of the public school system, it’s clear when more individuals can exercise their displeasure with a situation, they will continue to do so.”

About 60% of voters agreed that financial cost was at least somewhat of an obstacle to their child attending a school other than their local public school.

Researchers also found 57% of all voters said a lack of options was an obstacle to their child attending a different school, with 28% of them agreeing it was a factor.

Finally, more than half of parents, or 55%, said a lack of information was at least somewhat of an obstacle to their child attending a school other than the local public school.

Norman said all the numbers send a clear and stern message.

“I would say schools that aren’t doing things well may see a bigger problem if and when a more feasible way to an alternate education becomes available,” she said.

The poll had a margin of error of 2%.

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