Wisconsin’s Likely Voters Support School Choice, Tuition Freezes at UW Schools

September 5, 2014

by Christian D’Andrea
MacIver Institute Education Policy Analyst

More than 60 percent of Wisconsin voters support the state’s school choice programs and would like to see those initiatives expanded in the future.

That’s the takeaway from the results of a recent poll that examined the opinions of the state’s likely voters for the upcoming 2014 elections. That survey, which was commissioned by the American Federation for Children and conducted by NMB Research, was administered to 500 likely voters from Wisconsin’s swing districts.

Survey data showed that 63 percent of respondents favored a program that allows parents to use the tax dollars associated with their children in order to find the public or private school of their choice. 60 percent of those surveyed favored the expansion of the state’s three current voucher programs so that every working class family could take advantage of it. As of the 2014-15 school year, programs in Milwaukee and Racine limit participation to families that make less than 300 percent of the federal poverty level. Wisconsin’s statewide Parental Choice Program (PCP) is even stricter due to a 185 percent income cap.

Respondents overwhelmingly supported (83%) a plan that would apply similar testing suites to traditional, charter, and voucher schools to grade these programs against each other in an accountability program. Fewer were in favor of lifting the 1,000-student participation cap that the PCP is bound to, but a strong majority (56 percent of respondents) still backed this initiative.

The survey didn’t stop at only school choice issues. The NMB poll also found Wisconsin’s likely voters supported a tuition freeze at the state’s public colleges and universities (76%) as well as an expansion of grant and loan programs for residents to attend the state’s technical colleges (92%).

This survey data suggest that Wisconsinites value an educational system that provides several high-quality options and does not limit its best schools to the wealthiest people.

The full results of the poll can be seen by clicking here.