DES MOINES | A majority of Iowans support a school voucher program in the state, according to a survey released Tuesday by a national school choice advocacy group.
The Friedman Foundation, named after the late economist and Nobel laureate Milton Friedman, issued the survey, which found 54 percent of those asked said they supported a school voucher program, while 39 percent were against such a program.
The survey also found that Iowans say education is the second-most important issue for the state, just behind the economy. Additionally, 46 percent think K-12 education is “on the wrong track” compared to 40 percent who think it is headed in “the right direction.”
Jeff Reed, communications director for the foundation, said the organization undertook the survey at the request of the Iowa Alliance for Choice in Education.
“We think every single family, poor or wealthy, should be able to participate in school choice,” Reed said. “Maybe public school is the best choice, maybe private school is, the choice should be there.”
Asked about the results, Gov. Terry Branstad stopped short of giving a full endorsement of school vouchers but stressed people need to have options in their education choices.
“I think choice is a good thing in education,” Gov. Terry Branstad said.
As an example, Branstad cited the state raising the amount of money for Student Tuition Organizations from $8.75 million to $12 million a year.
Student Tuition Organizations are charitable groups that raise money to cover the costs of nonpublic schools for eligible children.
The governor also said changes to rules governing homeschool children in this year’s education reform package gave parents more educational choices.
Reed characterized Iowa’s current support for vouchers as “a good start” but said there was more the state could do.
The telephone survey was conducted between June 24 and July 2 and included both land line and cellphone numbers. The margin of error was 4 percentage points statewide.
Full results can be found online at www.edchoice.org/Research/Reports/Iowa-K-12-and-School-Choice-Survey.aspx.