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Poll: Private school voucher not a popular fix for public schools


Many Texans polled supported reducing the number of standardized tests.

Only a third of respondents supported using spending state money for private school tuition.

Reducing standardized tests is the most popular way to improve the state’s public school system, according to the results of a poll released by the Texas Tribune and the University of Texas on Wednesday.

The internet survey of 1,200 registered voters, conducted Feb. 3-10, found that 21 percent of respondents believed that reducing the number of tests was the most effective way to improve schools, followed closely by increasing funding to schools. According to 13 percent of those surveyed, using state money to send students private schools — a school voucher program sometimes referred to as school choice — was the third most popular choice.

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Examining the results by political party, Republicans and Democrats were still most likely to support reducing the number of tests but Republicans were more likely to believe that school choice was the most effective solution than Democrats.

School choice is poised to be one of the most divisive issues that the Texas Legislature will tackle this session. It has become a priority for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick who has Gov. Greg Abbott’s support. State Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, proposed Senate Bill 3 that would create a system of education savings accounts and tax credit scholarships.

The savings accounts would allow students leaving public school to use state money to pay for a variety of education services, including tuition for private schools, online courses and educational therapies.

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The bill also would give $100 million in tax credits in the first fiscal year after the law takes effect to businesses that contribute to a scholarship fund that would help send students to private school.

According to Wednesday’s poll results, 44 percent opposed redirecting state money to help pay for private primary and secondary school tuition, while 35 percent supported it.

The poll results also found that just 8 percent of Texans thought the state’s public education system is excellent. Thirty-nine percent said schools are good, 34 percent said they are not very good. Eight percent said they thought the school system is terrible.

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