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A majority of likely Oklahoma voters do not feel they are receiving a good return on their investment of $8,400 per student a year in education spending.

Poll respondents were asked, “According to official state data, education spending in Oklahoma is approximately $8,400 per student. Are taxpayers getting a good return on their investment of $8,400 per student per year?”

Results reveal that 62.4 percent of respondents said no, while just 22.9 percent said yes. Another 14.8 percent of respondents had no opinion.

“It’s a pretty sobering indictment of the status quo,” said Brandon Dutcher, vice president for policy at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA), “and this is using the government’s own spending data. If voters knew the real cost of education—which, as OCPA has demonstrated, is north of $10,000 per student—I suspect the return-on-investment results would be even lower.”

Further analysis reveals that 58.9 percent of Democrats say they are not receiving a good return, which makes them 6.1 points less likely to be unsatisfied than Republicans. Results also indicate that 73.3 percent of Independents are dissatisfied, which makes them 8.3 points more likely to be dissatisfied than Republicans.

When results are broken down by political label, a different trend emerges. Results show that 64.8 percent of liberals feel they are not receiving a good return, compared to 63.5 percent of conservatives.  An even lower percentage of moderates, 59.1 percent, feel they are not receiving a good return on investment.

Interestingly, just 17.9 percent of liberals say they are receiving a good return, compared to 22.2 percent conservatives and 28.4 percent of moderates.

“We have a bipartisan consensus among taxpayers that they’re not getting a good return on their investment,” said Dutcher. “Couple this with earlier SoonerPoll data showing that voters overwhelmingly believe more school spending won’t improve student performance, and it’s clear policymakers need to try something else. I would suggest that they continue to look to the one reform that consistently has shown to improve public schools: school choice.”

SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, was commissioned for this poll by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. SoonerPoll.com conducted the scientific poll July 25-Aug. 11. Likely Oklahoma voters were selected at random and given the opportunity to participate in the poll by phone or online. Of the 587 respondents who participated, 17 took the survey online and 570 responded via telephone interview. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.04 percentage points.

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SoonerPoll finds most Oklahomans support proposal to allow government to assist with tuition costs for special-need students to enroll in private school.

When asked about a proposal to allow special-need students currently in public schools schools to enroll in private schools chosen by the parents with government help to pay the tuition, 54.7 percent of likely Oklahoma voters said they would support the proposal.

SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, conducted the scientific study using live interviewers by telephone of 1000 likely voters from Feb. 25 – March 8.   This particular question was commissioned by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. The study has a margin of error of ± 3.1 percent.

To see a PDF document containing all the questions asked by OCPA click here.

Rep Jason Nelson (R, District 87) authored House Bill 3393 which “establishes the Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program for the purpose of providing a scholarship to a private school of choice for students with disabilities who have had an individualized education program (IEP) developed in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.”

“This legislation acknowledges the fact that children with special needs have unique challenges. If those needs are not properly addressed in their assigned local school,” Nelson said. “I believe we should give those families the opportunity to attend the school that provides the best learning environment for their children.”

Republicans and Democrats don’t often see eye to eye in their support for proposals that offer tax credits for private schools, however further analysis of the results show the majority of both parties support the proposal.

“The results of the survey show that public opinion is clearly behind the concepts in the bill,” Dr. Keith Gaddie, vice president of Soonerpoll, said.  “Voters in this state show a sense of justice and parsimony in the treatment of special needs, including supporting efforts to find competitive educational solutions for the most challenged.”

HB 3393 passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives on a 78-19 vote March 4, 2010 and proceeded to the state Senate where it was referred to the Appropriations Committee, it is scheduled to be voted on soon.

To see the full text of the bill click here.


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According to a recent SoonerPoll, most Oklahomans do not believe that students will learn more if more money is spent on public schools. When asked if they agree with the statement “If more money is spent on public schools in my district, students will learn more.” 63.6 percent of likely Oklahoma voters disagreed with the statement.

“The findings of the survey indicate that many voters are ready for reform in the school system that does not necessarily mean spending more money,” Bill Shapard, CEO of SoonerPoll, said. “These results are consistent with the conservative values that most Oklahoman’s hold in regards to government spending.”

Further results found that Republicans are more likely to believe educational spending is not tied to student learning than Democrats (70.3 percent of Republicans compared to 57.3 percent of Democrats). In fact, Republicans were 16 points more likely to strongly disagree than Democrats, whose disagreement was much softer.

Interestingly, age played a role in how Oklahomans view education spending and student learning. Results of the poll indicate that the older the poll respondent, the stronger disagreement there was with the statement.

“Regardless of respondent ideology, the opinion that spending will not improve public education is consistent with research performed at the Brookings Institute,”  Dr. Keith Gaddie, SoonerPoll Vice President, said.  “The Brookings Institute’s study shows there is no relationship between spending in the classroom and student performance.”

SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, conducted the scientific study using live interviewers by telephone of 1000 likely voters from Feb. 25 – March 8. This particular question was commissioned by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. The study has a margin of error of ± 3.1 percent.

To see a PDF document containing all the questions asked by OCPA click here.

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OKLAHOMA CITY – The results of a poll conducted last week indicate strong support for Oklahoma’s 65% Solution, an initiative that could appear as a state question on the ballot in November. Of those surveyed, an overwhelming 93 percent said getting more tax dollars into the classroom was important to improving education in Oklahoma.

The scientific survey of 527 likely Oklahoma voters was conducted by SoonerPoll.com, an Oklahoma public opinion research firm, and commissioned by First Class Education of Oklahoma.  The poll had a margin of error of ±4.27%.

Eighty-one percent (81%) said it was very important that more of our tax dollars reach the classroom, while another 11.5 percent said it was somewhat important. Just 5.7 percent said it was somewhat or very unimportant.

“Oklahoma voters indicated overwhelming support for the 65% Solution,” said Bill Shapard, SoonerPoll’s CEO. “The results of the poll clearly signify that voters in our state believe getting more of our education dollars into the classroom will have a direct educational benefit for our schoolchildren.”

The measure, if approved by the voters, would increase the amount of taxpayer-supported educational funding spent on classroom instruction to 65 percent. It defines classroom instruction as expenditures directly related to the classroom, including teacher salaries, books, activities, special education instruction, tutors, classroom computers and supplies, libraries and activities such as field trips, athletics, arts, music and sports.  Currently, only 58 cents from every education tax dollar reaches the classroom.

More than three quarters of all respondents to the poll indicated some degree of support for the measure should it appear on the November ballot, with more than half stating they would definitely support it. Only 7.8 percent of respondents said they would oppose the initiative.

Party affiliation did not appear to affect the likelihood of respondents to support the initiative, with 81.9 percent of Republicans, 82.8 percent of Democrats and 87.8 percent of Independents expressing support for the ballot initiative.   Support for the measure was slightly stronger among women voters than men (57% to 50%), and strong among all age groups, ethnic classifications, and income levels.  A majority of liberals, moderates, conservatives, also expressed strong support for the proposal.

Another clear majority, 84 percent, said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports the requirement that at least 65 percent of Oklahoma’s education dollars be spent on classroom instruction. From one end of the ideological spectrum to the other, liberal to conservative, Oklahomans overwhelmingly were more likely to support a candidate supporting the state question.

The survey was conducted of likely voters by live interviewers over the telephone August 29-31, 2006 from SoonerPoll’s Oklahoma City call center.  Potential respondents were randomly selected using computerized calculations and screened as to whether they planned to vote in the November election.  Keith Gaddie, PhD assisted with the analysis of the final data.

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