BATON ROUGE — Sixty percent of Louisiana voters support an expansion of the state’s school voucher program, with support as high as 67 percent in some New Orleans area parishes, according to a new poll released Monday by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice and the Pelican Institute for Public Policy.
The statewide poll, commissioned by the Friedman Foundation, found that 63 percent of Bayou state voters support school vouchers to give parents another option other than their local public school.
By a nearly 2-1 margin, it found strong backing for Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposal to expand the Student Scholarship for Educational Excellence Program — a limited voucher plan launched in 2008. The Student Scholarship for Educational Excellence Program currently serves 1,912 students. It offers vouchers which average $4,863 each to low-income pupils in New Orleans in grades K-6 only.
Jindal’s proposal would expand the program to the entire state and include students who attend schools graded C, D, or F among other criteria.
“Voters in the Bayou State give high marks to school choice and want more kids to have school choice,” said Robert Enlow, President and CEO of the Friedman Foundation. “This poll clearly demonstrates that vouchers are in demand and Louisiana voters support it.”
Braun Research conducted the poll over eight days in the second half of February. The statewide sample size included 802 registered voters with a margin of error of ± 3.5 points. Additional oversampling produced samples of about 325 respondents for each of five Louisiana parishes; the margin of error for each parish was ± 5.4 points.
Among the parishes reporting support for the voucher expansion:
- Sixty-seven percent of voters in Tangipahoa Parish, outside of New Orleans, said they “strongly” or “somewhat favor” expansion of the state’s existing voucher program.
- Sixty-one percent of voters in Orleans Parish, in suburban New Orleans, said they too favored expanding the voucher program to include more children in their community.
- Fifty-nine percent of voters in St. Tammany Parish, also in the New Orleans suburbs, said they too supported the program’s expansion.
- Fifty-seven percent of voters in the parish of East Baton Rouge said they would also supported expansion of the current voucher program to include additional pupils.
- Fifty-three percent of voters in Livingston Parish — also outside New Orleans — said they supported expansion of the existing voucher program.
The survey also asked Louisiana voters their thoughts on teacher tenure or the guarantee of certain rights concerning discipline or dismissal of a teacher for inadequate performance. A solid majority said they agree with a proposal to overhaul teacher tenure, seniority status and pay guidelines.
Other poll highlights include:
- Sixty-four percent of voters rated private schools an “A” or “B.” In contrast, 34 percent rated public schools and “A” or “B.” More than 30 percent rated their public schools a “D” or “F.”
- Sixty percent supported expanding the state’s voucher program for low and middle income families to schools rated C, D or F while 30 percent opposed it.
- Fifty-six percent supported overhauling Louisiana’s guidelines for tenure, seniority and salaries. By a 2-1 margin, those who strongly favor the idea outnumber those who strongly oppose it 36 percent to 18 percent.
“We always knew Louisiana was reform-minded,” Enlow said. “This poll shows that taxpayers want more educational freedom for students and more accountability for those who teach in public schools.”
To see more information about the poll, go to: EdChoice.org/LA-Survey