Topeka A poll released by a group that supports charter schools and vouchers says Kansans support charter schools and vouchers.
The poll results also showed that of the six states surveyed, Kansans were the most happy with their public schools.
The study was done on behalf of The Foundation for Educational Choice, an Indianapolis-based organization that describes itself as promoting “school choice as the most effective and equitable way to improve the quality of K-12 education in America.”
More than 600 registered voters were interviewed last summer in each state. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points, the foundation reported.
In addition to Kansas, the poll included Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, New Jersey and New York. They were picked because none has enacted voucher or tax-credit systems and each has low student populations in charter schools, the foundation said.
Of those states, only Kansas had a majority of respondents who said the public school education system was headed in the “right direction” -- 49 percent to 38 percent who said K-12 education has “generally gotten off on the wrong track.”
Other results from Kansas respondents:
• 63 percent rated their public school system as good or excellent.
• 62 percent support charter schools, described in the poll question as “public schools that have more control over their own budget, staff and curriculum and are exempt from many existing public school requirements.”
• 56 percent support tax credits for contributions to non-profits to provide private school scholarships to students. That was the lowest of the six states.
• 57 percent (again lowest of the six states) support a system where a child could go to private or public school, including both religious and non-religious schools, and “tax dollars currently allocated to a school district would be allocated to parents in the form of a school voucher to pay partial or full tuition.”
Robert Enlow, the foundation’s president and chief executive officer, said the results should encourage passage of choice proposals in Kansas.
“Kansas is teetering toward budget crisis and academic stagnation,” Enlow said. “Vouchers, tax-credit scholarships, and charter schools can relieve the state's financial pressure while giving every child a more effective, personalized education - and this study shows Kansans agree with that.”
Mark Tallman, with the Kansas Association of School Boards, had a different opinion.
“The polling reported indicates that Kansans have positive feelings about their public schools, and know that Kansas ranks among the national leaders in academic performance. What they may not know - and the survey didn't tell them - is that Kansas already has higher national test scores, higher ACT scores and a lower drop-out rate than states with more charter schools or voucher programs,” Tallman said.
Tallman added that instead of creating a new system of deregulated charter schools, the Legislature could reduce regulations on all school boards. He added, “Finally, the Kansas Constitution, adopted by the people, requires that public schools be operated by local school boards and prohibits public education funds from going to religious organizations.”