Poll: Majority of Missouri voters support ESAs

(The Lion) — A new poll of Missouri voters found strong support for various forms of school choice.

The survey of 900 Missourians, conducted by Saint Louis University (SLU) and YouGov, found nearly 90% of voters supported the existence of a tax-funded education savings account (ESA) program.

The state’s sole school choice program, MOScholars, operates by allowing individuals or businesses who donate to scholarship funds to receive a tax credit for their donation. Those scholarships can be used by qualifying students on educational expenses, including private school tuition.

Currently, the program is limited by geographic region and income level, but the SLU survey found 44% of voters thought it should be available to all students.

Just last week the Missouri Senate approved a bill expanding the number of students to whom MOScholars is available, removing geographical limitations and raising the household income threshold.

In the poll, strong majorities also thought the scholarships should be open to special education students (58%) and low-income students (64%).

Only 12% of voters opposed the existence of the program.

Additionally, respondents favored education freedom in other forms within the public system.

Nearly 60% of survey respondents said they support students being allowed to enroll in a public school outside their residentially zoned district. Only 30% opposed it.

While Missourians are somewhat satisfied with their local public schools – 40% rated them as good or excellent – few are satisfied with the state of Missouri education as a whole.

Just one in five voters gave statewide education a positive review, while 33% said it was fair and 23% said poor.

Previous SLU polling also found strong support for charter schools.

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