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Poll finds Oklahoma voters oppose public funds going to private school scholarships


As Oklahoma legislators debate the merits of policies funneling taxpayer money toward private school scholarships, a poll of likely voters across the state found a majority oppose that type of legislation.

The results come from a survey commissioned by the Oklahoma Education Coalition and conducted by a Virginia pollster, Tarrance Group.

The poll found 61 percent of Oklahoma voters oppose the use of taxpayer dollars going toward private school scholarships.

The survey asked 600 registered, likely voters if they support policies like those found in Senate Bill 1647, which would give private school students a publicly funded education savings account worth thousands. One analysis by the state finds the program would cost between $118 and $161 million.

That legislation has won the support of Governor Kevin Stitt and is authored by Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat. However, it’s been publicly opposed by House Speaker Charles McCall.

It has passed through committee and could be heard on the Senate floor in the near future, though McCall has said he won’t give it a hearing on the House floor.

Other findings include:

  • Broader opposition to public money paying for private school tuition in urban and suburban areas, where 68% and 65% oppose those policies. A majority of rural voters oppose vouchers, but it’s a lower percentage at 56%.
  • 59% of voters oppose “school vouchers which allow parents to use taxpayer dollars to pay some of the cost of sending their child to a private school.”
  • 86% of Democrats opposed public money paying for private school, while 59% of Republicans opposed the policy.
  • 69% of respondents rated their local public schools “excellent” or “good.”
  • 83% of those who were parents rated their child’s public school teachers as “excellent” or “good.”

Respondents also overwhelmingly supported policies like:

  • 85% for increasing state funding for K-12 public schools to enable districts to hire more teachers and decrease class size
  • 82% for increasing state funding for K-12 public schools so Oklahoma is funding programs at a comparable level to neighboring states.
  • 85% for increasing pay and benefits of Oklahoma teachers to be more comparable to other professions with similar education and training requirements.
  • 89% for increasing the salaries for public school support staff.

StateImpact Oklahoma is a partnership of Oklahoma’s public radio stations which relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online.

Robby Korth grew up in Ardmore, Oklahoma and Fayetteville, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Nebraska with a journalism degree.
StateImpact Oklahoma reports on education, health, environment, and the intersection of government and everyday Oklahomans. It's a reporting project and collaboration of KGOU, KOSU, KWGS and KCCU, with broadcasts heard on NPR Member stations.
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