In honor of National School Choice Week, the Civitas Institute, in partnership with Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, hosted a panel discussion and poll presentation in Downtown Raleigh Thursday.
Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, a longtime school choice proponent, spoke prior to a presentation on the results of the Civitas poll about school choice in the state.
Parents, policy experts and politicians were in attendance to discuss school choice, including traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online learning and home schooling.
Forest spoke about the importance of school choice to meet students where they are to keep them engaged in their education and to meet their individual learning needs.
“I think we are in this really unique spot in America where the perfect storm of education is coming together with bandwidth, online content and curriculum and school choice options, that we are in a place now where we are really going to be able to put together a true competency-based education system for our school employees, for our parents and our students out there, and I am excited about that,” he said.
Dr. Bob Luebke, educations policy analyst at the Civitas Institute, gave a presentation on the results of the Civitas poll highlighting some of the numbers relating to school choice.
According to the poll, 70 percent of the likely North Carolina voters polled believe that “state lawmakers need to do more to expand educational options for families.” Only 17 percent of those polled said that the state is doing a good job expanding educational options for families.
When polled, 71 percent said that they favored the opportunity scholarship program, which gave $4,200 to 6,200 students to attend private schools last fall in the state. Meanwhile, 20 percent of respondents opposed the program and 9 percent were not sure.
When asked, 38 percent said that they believed that the opportunity scholarships helped students and saved taxpayers money, while 31 percent said the scholarship program takes money from public schools.
Seventy percent of those polled said that they favored charter schools in the state, while 21 percent said they opposed charter schools.
When asked about Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), 52 percent said that they favor ESAs and 30 percent said they oppose ESAs.
When only those respondents who were parents were asked about which type of school would be best for their child, if money were no object, 44 percent said that traditional school would be best, 11 percent said public charter schools, 35 percent said private schools, 8 percent said home schools, 2 percent said virtual schools and 1 percent said that they were not sure.
When asked to assign a letter grade to their local public schools, 37 percent of those polled gave their schools a “B” while 27 percent gave their schools a “C” and 18 percent an “A.” Of those polled, 9 percent gave their local schools a “D” and 3 percent gave them an “F.”
When asked about their opinions of public schools across the state, 45 percent gave the schools a “C,” 28 percent gave the schools a “B” and only 5 percent gave the system an “A.” Also, 12 percent gave the schools a “D” and 4 percent gave the system a failing grade.
Of the 811 registered voters reached, 750 were between the ages 25 and 54 and voted in 2016, and they were asked the majority of the questions. In addition, 418 of the respondents were parents.
The poll had a margin of error of 3.7 percent.