The vast majority of Oklahomans favor alternatives to public education such as private or charter schools, according to a public opinion survey.

The survey was released Wednesday by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice and eight other sponsoring organizations. Similar surveys have been conducted in Idaho, Tennessee, Nevada, Illinois, Georgia, Florida and Arizona.


 The vast majority of Oklahomans favor alternatives to public education such as private or charter schools, according to a public opinion survey.
The survey was released Wednesday by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice and eight other sponsoring organizations. Similar surveys have been conducted in Idaho, Tennessee, Nevada, Illinois, Georgia, Florida and Arizona.
“What this survey reveals is that Americans enjoy choice,” said Hopper Smith, president of the OCPA.
According to the survey, 83 percent of those questioned in Oklahoma said they would pick private schools or another alternative to public schools in order to obtain the best education for their children.
Forty-one percent favored private schools and 19 percent opted for home schooling. Seventeen percent chose charter schools, the same percentage that favored public schools. Six percent chose virtual schools, which rely on Internet technology.
Paul DiPerna of the Friedman Foundation said the scientific survey of 1,200 likely Oklahoma voters was conducted April 25-27 by Strategic Vision of Atlanta. He said it had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Asked to rate the state’s public school system by suggested categories, 33 percent rated it “good,” 30 percent rated it “fair,” 11 percent “poor” and 7 percent “excellent.” Nineteen percent were undecided.
Thirty-six percent believe public school funding is “too low,” 33 percent “too high” and 31 percent “about right.”
More than 50 percent of those surveyed, including both Democrats and Republicans, favored the concept of school vouchers and charter schools.
DiPerna said the bipartisan support for those programs was greater in Oklahoma than in other states.
Two Democratic lawmakers from Tulsa — Sen. Judy Eason McIntyre and Rep. Jabbar Shumate — joined OCPA officials at a news conference and expressed support for legislation to expand school choice.
McIntyre, a former school board member in Tulsa, said the education system had failed students in her district.
She pointed to successes of new private schools with students who were having problems in public schools.
Shumate said it is imperative for children in north Tulsa to have more educational opportunities to have a better life.
McIntyre and Shumate support legislation to provide tax credits that would allow more students in their districts the chance to attend private schools.
They said such legislation passed the House a year ago, but died in the House after opposition from public education groups.