Survey Shows Majority of Arizonans Endorse School Choice: Support Strong for Current School Choice Proposals and for Pro-school Choice Candidates

Posted on April 08, 2005 | Type: Press Release
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PHOENIX-The majority of Arizonans favor the concept of school choice and overwhelmingly support proposals before the Arizona Legislature that would provide more educational opportunities for school children, according to a survey sponsored by the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation and released jointly with Phoenix-based groups, the Alliance for School Choice and the Goldwater Institute.

The survey, conducted by Dr. Margaret Kenski, one of Arizona's most respected and trusted opinion researchers, found that 72.1 percent of likely voters support expanding the dollars available to school choice through the Marriage Penalty Elimination proposal, which would raise tax credits for contributions to scholarship granting organizations from $625 to $1,000 for married couples. The proposal to create a scholarship tax credit for business contributions to scholarship granting organizations was supported more than 2-1 by likely voters. The three school voucher proposals currently being considered are widely supported with 71.4 percent of respondents favorably disposed toward at least one of the voucher programs kindergarten vouchers, special needs vouchers or universal choice. 

In an astounding showing of support, 91.4 percent of Arizonans supported one or more of the five school choice proposals before the legislature, with 65.6 percent "strongly" in favor of one or more of the programs.

"The data show that the current efforts to expand educational options in Arizona are wildly popular," said Robert C. Enlow, executive director of the Friedman Foundation. "These results, which fall in line with numerous other surveys around the country, clearly show that Arizonans want greater educational freedom," added Enlow.

Of all the issues before the legislature, K-12 education is by far the most important issue that Arizona voters want the government to address (41 percent), with health care being a distant second (17 percent).

"These results give policymakers a clear picture of the depth of support for school choice," said Darcy Olsen, president and CEO of the Goldwater Institute. "The research is clear and Arizonans have spoken."

In addition, the survey found that Arizonans are more likely to support state legislative candidates (38.9 percent to 21.3 percent) and gubernatorial candidates (39 percent to 23.6 percent) who support school choice. Public support for candidates who support the issue is even higher among 18-39-year-olds, frequent churchgoers, parents and Republicans. Notably, even Democrats polled would be more likely than not to support candidates who support school choice.

"In spite of the misinformation propagated by opponents, school choice resonates deeply with the Arizona public and they have spoken with their support of every single school choice proposal before the Arizona Legislature this session," declared Clint Bolick, president and general counsel of the Alliance for School Choice. "The fact that voters will take elected officials' position on school choice into serious account demonstrates that school choice is not only good policy, but good politics."

This study is available at http://www.friedmanfoundation.org/AZpoll.pdf.

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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Robert Fanger, Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation, (317) 229-2128, robert@friedmanfoundation.org
Darcy Olsen, Goldwater Institute, (602) 462-5000 x 234, dolsen@goldwaterinstitute.org
Laura Devany, Alliance for School Choice, (602) 468-0900, ldevany@AllianceForSchoolChoice.org
Dr. Margaret Kenski, Arizona Opinion, (520) 297-2019


Specific Information on the Survey

POLL DETAILS
 Survey compiled by Margaret Kenski, Ph.D., Arizona Opinion.
 Fieldwork conducted on March 23-26 and March 28-29 by DataCall, Inc. of Phoenix.
 Number of respondents ?áN602; margin of error for sample +/- 4 percent.

DEMOGRAPHICS
 Respondents were randomly selected from the voter files of those who voted in the 2004 election, with location, gender, age and party affiliation quotas established for the final set of respondents.

SUMMARY OF KEY FINDINGS
 By more than a 2-1 margin, K-12 education is considered the most important issue for the government to address ?áK-12 education (40.9 percent); Health Care (16.9 percent); Crime/Drugs (14.6 percent); Rapid Growth (9.6 percent); Higher Education (7.1 percent).

 Initially, a majority of Arizonans favor the concept of school choice. Support for the concept is higher in rural Arizona (57.2 percent), among 18-39 year olds (65.3 percent), frequent churchgoers (56.2 percent), Republican women (59.9 percent), Hispanics (63.8 percent), households earning 25-50K (60 percent) and parents with children (59.5 percent).

 Critically, after hearing about specific proposals being debated by the legislature, initial support for the concept becomes a plurality of support for specific proposals. An astounding total of 91.4 percent of Arizonans supported one or more of the five school choice proposals before the legislature, with 65.6 percent "strongly" in favor of one or more programs. 71.4 percent were favorably disposed toward at least one of the three voucher programs

 More than seven in 10 (71.2 percent) support increasing the existing education tax credit for married couples from $625 to $1,000 a couple. Almost two-thirds favor a proposal to allow businesses to claim tax credits for contributions to non-profit groups that distribute scholarships. More than six in 10 support vouchers for kindergarten and more Arizonans than not favor vouchers for special needs students (52.3 percent) or universal vouchers (49.5 percent).

 Arizonans indicate a preference for school choice options that expand school choice for all parents over those which are targeted to low-income, special needs or underperforming students ?á48.8 percent to 35.7 percent.  However, Democrats, Independents and the unmarried favor targeted school choice programs.

 Candidates who support school choice attract considerably more voters than they lose.
o 38.9 percent are more likely to support a candidate for the state legislature if he/she supports school choice; 21.3 percent are less likely. Support is even higher among 18-39-year-olds (50 percent more likely to support a candidate), Republicans (43.7 percent more likely) and households earning $50-75,000 (47.6 percent more likely).
o 39 percent are more likely to support a candidate for governor if he/she supports school choice; 23.6 percent are less likely. Higher support comes also from 18-39-year-olds, Republicans, female Independent voters and Hispanics.
o Importantly, the issue of school choice does not hurt Democrat candidates who support school choice. According to the data, Democrat voters are also more likely than not to support a candidate for state office if he/she supports school choice: 31.5 percent more likely, 34.2 percent no difference and 28.5 percent less likely.


About the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation
Established in 1996 by Nobel Laureate economist Milton Friedman and his wife Rose, the Friedman Foundation is a national, nonprofit organization promoting school choice to improve, through competition, the quality of K-12 education for all.

About the Goldwater Institute
The Goldwater Institute is Arizona's leading research organization on market-based education reform. The Institute's research has informed several bi-partisan school choice reforms, including charter school and scholarship tax credit legislation.

About the Alliance for School Choice
The Alliance for School Choice is a national nonprofit educational policy group advocating school choice programs across the country that expand opportunities for economically disadvantaged children.

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