School Choice Popular Among Texas Youth, Minorities

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A new poll shows that school choice policies are generally popular among diverse demographic groups, with urban, young, and minority voters showing the most support.

The Texas Trends survey, conducted by the University of Houston and Texas Southern University, found that a plurality of Texans expressed a desire for more educational opportunities.

Among Texans who participated in the five-year survey, 47% supported universal “tax-funded school vouchers that can be used to pay for their child to attend a private or religious school,” with only 28% opposing the proposition.

A majority of respondents with a child under the age of 18 living in the home supported school choice, with 59% in favor. Only 17% were opposed. People without school-aged children were more divided, with 43% supportive of school choice and 31% against the policy.

A plurality of voters from cities, suburbs, towns, and rural areas all backed school choice, with urban voters leading the way with 48% in support and 28% against. Suburban voters came next with 43% in support and 35% against, followed by rural residents with 42% in support and 34% against. Town dwellers were the most split, with 39% in favor and 34% against.

When broken down by race, black Texans showed the most enthusiasm for school choice, with 53% supporting a universal program and only 24% in opposition. Among whites, 49% registered their support. Some 29% said they opposed it. The lowest support was among Latinos, among whom only 46% were in favor. Some 34% said they were against.

The pollsters also looked at which age groups supported the proposition.

“Members of Gen-Z (53%) and of the Millennial cohort (52%) are significantly more likely than members of the Silent Generation/Baby Boomer cohort (42%) to support vouchers for all parents, and significantly less likely to oppose them (17% and 22% vs. 39%), with Gen-Zs also significantly less likely to oppose vouchers for all parents than Gen-Xers, 17% vs. 29%,” reads the report.

Politically, universal school choice was popular across party lines, with 59% of Republicans, 43% of independents, and 41% of Democrats signaling their support.

These findings are similar to a poll conducted by the University of Texas at Austin, which found that 51% of Texas voters backed some kind of school choice legislation, as reported by The Dallas Express.

Mitch Little, one of the attorneys who successfully defended Attorney General Ken Paxton during his impeachment trial, posted about the latest study on social media, writing, “It’s 59/17 for people with children in their home. Texas parents want this.”

Similarly, Brian Phillips of the Texas Public Policy Foundation remarked, “Another day, another statewide poll showing Texans support school choice, including a plurality of Democrats and a majority of Black Texans.”

“Opponents of school choice are on the fringe of public opinion in Texas,” Phillips claimed.

However, school choice has met stiff resistance from public school stakeholders like teacher unions and administrator associations. Democrats in the Texas House have also been historically opposed to enabling students to attend private school at taxpayers’ expense, claiming it would financially undermine traditional public education.

The X account for Texas House Democrats posted recently, “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. Stop voucher scams.”

The flagging academic performance of many public school systems has likely bolstered support for school choice legislation across the state. Dallas ISD, for example, the second-biggest district in the state, saw only 41% of its students score at grade level on their STAAR exams during the 2021-2022 school year. Additionally, almost 20% of the district’s graduating Class of 2022 did not earn a diploma in four years, according to the latest Texas Education Agency accountability report.

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