Eight Out of Ten Kentucky Voters Would Opt Out of Public Schools

Member Group : News Releases

July 31, 2009
Contact: Joe DiLaura, Friedman Foundation, 317.229.2128

More than eight of ten Kentucky likely voters would opt out of traditional public schools

-Survey results find strong support for school choice policies among Democrats, Independents, Republicans-

FRANKFORT, KY (August 3, 2009) – As Kentucky students head back to the classroom, thousands of parents continue to be denied a choice about where to educate their children. More than eight of ten Kentucky likely voters would send their children to private, schools, charter schools, virtual schools or educate their children in a home school setting if they could, according to the survey released today by several state and national organizations. Eighty-six percent of residents polled would opt for schools other than traditional public schools, according to the survey.

The survey was conducted in March by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, an Indianapolis-based school reform advocacy organization on behalf of seven state and national educational and policy groups: the Association of Christian Schools International, Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Family Foundation of Kentucky, Kentucky Education Restoration Alliance, Kentucky League for Educational Alternatives (KLEA) School CHOICE Scholarships, and the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO).

"Rich or poor, Republican or Democrat, rural or urban, the results are clear: voters want more options in the education of their children," said Paul DiPerna, director of partner services for the Friedman Foundation. "The support for school choice concepts – such as tax credits, vouchers, and charter schools — cuts across numerous demographic groups. At the same time, there is widespread discontent in that only one of four rate the state’s public school system as good or excellent."

"The survey results demonstrates a wide disconnect between schooling preferences and actual school enrollments," DiPerna added. "While 50 percent of Kentucky K-12 parents said they would like to send their child to a private school, only about nine percent of the state’s students currently attend private schools. Twelve percent of voters would like to send their children to a charter school, a policy that does not yet exist in the state, as Kentucky does not have a charter school law," he said.

The survey results indicate that only 13 percent of Kentucky parents would choose a regular public school for their child, yet currently more than nine of ten – 91 percent — attend regular public schools. "The implication of these results is that Kentucky, like most other states, does not have a sufficient school choice system in place to match parents’ schooling preferences," he said.

Here are the results of the question "if it were your decision and you could select any type of school, what type of school would you select in order to obtain the best education for your child:

• 49 percent would choose private schools
• 23 percent would choose home schooling
• 11 percent would choose charter schools
• 14 percent would choose regular public schools
• percent would choose virtual school

Other results of the survey:

• School choice is not a partisan issue among voters. The survey results indicate high levels of support exist among Democrats, Republicans, and Independents for school choice concepts, such as tax credit scholarships, charter schools, and school vouchers.
• Fifty-nine percent of the survey respondents rated Kentucky public schools as "poor" or "fair," while 23 percent rated the schools as "good" or "excellent."
• Seven out of ten (70 percent) say Kentucky’s level of public school funding is "about right" or "too high," though when asked how much they thought was spent on each student, 70 percent underestimated the per pupil expenditure. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the 2007 per pupil student funding in Kentucky was $9,348;
• More than 4 in 10 (41 percent) say overcrowded schools and overcrowded classrooms are major challenges confronting Kentucky’s public school system.

Kentuckians are also more than twice as likely to say "lack of accountability" is a systemic challenge when compared with "lack of funding."

The statistically representative poll of 1,200 likely Kentucky voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The Kentucky findings are the latest in a series of surveys commissioned under the Friedman Foundation’s Survey in the State project. Previous surveys include Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Oregon released earlier this year; and Montana, Maryland, Oklahoma, Idaho, Tennessee, and Nevada, released during 2008. The Foundation also polled voters in four states, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and Illinois from 2005 to 2007.


Please visit our website to read the full study at http://www.friedmanfoundation.org/research.

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