Most Texans Want School Choice, Poll Says

School classroom | Image by Lopolo

As the Texas Legislature considers passing a school choice package, a new poll indicates there is broad statewide support for the reform.

The survey, which was conducted by the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, was answered by 1,200 registered voters and had a 2.83% margin of error.

When asked whether they supported or opposed “establishing a voucher, educational savings account (ESA) or other ‘school choice program,’” 51% of respondents either strongly or somewhat registered their approval. Only 30% disapproved of school choice, and 19% said they did not have an opinion.

When broken down by party lines, 66% of Republicans said they approve of school choice, 14% said they oppose it, and 17% were unsure. Among independents, 46% signaled their support, while 31% disagreed, and 23% said they held no opinion or did not know.

Not even a majority of Democratic voters oppose school choice legislation, according to the poll. Only 47% indicated they at least somewhat opposed the policy. Some 23% of Democrats said they supported school choice, and 23% said they did not know.

Across urban, suburban, and rural voters, every geographical demographic had at least a plurality backing school choice.

Respondents in big cities showed the most support for school choice, with 57% of urban voters registering their support. In the suburbs, 49% were in favor, and 18% were against. Rural voters were not far behind, with 46% backing school choice and only 28% opposing it.

Looking at age as a factor, the younger someone was, the more likely they were to support school choice. Among voters 18-29, 62% backed the program, while only 16% opposed it, according to the poll.

Similarly, 58% of those most likely to have young kids in school, people aged 30-44, liked the idea of a school choice program. Just 38% opposed it, while 18% were undecided.

Outright majorities in the age categories of 45-64 and 65 and up did not register support for school choice, however, the policy proposal still secured a strong plurality of support from both groups — 43% and 47%, respectively.

Broken down by race, black Texans registered the most support for school choice, with 54% voting in favor and 24% against. Whites came in a close second at 53% in favor. Hispanics came last but still logged 43% in support.

The results come as Gov. Greg Abbott continues to champion school choice legislation as a major benefit for students and parents.

“School choice empowers parents to make decisions that best fit their family and their child’s unique learning needs,” he said. “Now is the time to deliver school choice for every family in Texas.”

However, the proposal has met stiff resistance from the public school establishment, teacher unions, and Democrats, who claim that enabling students to attend private school at taxpayers’ expense would undermine traditional public education.

Texas House Democrats claimed, “Vouchers will mean larger class sizes, lower teacher pay, and worse outcomes for the millions of Texas children who attend Texas public schools.”

“Extracurriculars, like football, will get cut. Teachers will be laid off. Schools will be closed,” they continued. “Stop voucher scams.”

Enrollment at public school systems like Dallas ISD has been on the decline in recent years, even without vouchers or education savings accounts in play.

Only 41% of students in Dallas ISD scored at grade level on their STAAR exams during the 2021-2022 school year, despite the hard work of the district’s dedicated teachers and staff. Additionally, almost 20% of students in the graduating Class of 2022 did not earn a high school diploma within four years. The statewide average for on-time graduation was 90% that school year.

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