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Poll: Americans Prefer Smaller Classes, More Technology, Before Vouchers

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Americans favor smaller class sizes and technology over education reforms such as vouchers and merit pay for teachers, says a survey released by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.

Data was collected from 1,000 respondents who took part in the Cooperative Congressional Election Study.

Those participants ranked the most effective school reform efforts to be smaller class sizes, technology, accountability, vouchers, teachers' unions, merit pay for teachers, and a longer school day, in that order.

When asked about what types of school choice were most preferred, survey participants said they supported, in order from most to least, tax-credit reimbursements, tax-credit scholarships, education savings accounts, universal vouchers, vouchers for students with disabilities, and vouchers for low-income students.

This data was consistent with other survey findings, said Dick Carpenter, a professor of leadership, research, and foundations at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, who wrote the report. Further research should be done to determine whether tax credits are more desirable because of the role they play in expanding school choice or because they do not rely on the taxpayer to shoulder the financial burden of school choice  like vouchers, Carpenter wrote.

The survey also asked participants to rank the state of American public education, which the majority of the respondents said was between "poor" and "fair." However, the fact that school choice (in the form of vouchers) was ranked fourth most preferable in the list of school reforms suggests strong support for public education in its current form, said Carpenter.

In a blog post, Carpenter also broke down the data by political affiliation and race or ethnicity to see if any trends emerged. Unsurprisingly, participants who identified as Republican were more likely to support vouchers than those who identified as Democrats.

Follow @EWKatieAsh to keep up with the latest school choice and charter school news on Twitter. 

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