Poll finds support for vouchers and higher school funding in California

Donald Trump's plans to reform education have been routinely described as radical, but one key feature — taxpayer-funded vouchers — may find some unlikely supporters: California voters.

About 60% of adults and 66% of public-school parents in a new poll said they favored vouchers that parents could use for their children's education at any public, private, or parochial school. Republicans (67%) were more likely than independents (56%) and far more likely than Democrats (46%) to hold that view. Across racial and ethnic groups, 73% of African Americans, 69% of Latinos, 56% of Asians and 51% of whites supported vouchers.

The poll results were released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Voters also expressed positions more traditionally associated with notions of a politically liberal and anti-Trump California.

Current levels of school funding are inadequate according to most adults (64%), likely voters (66%) and public school parents (69%).

A supermajority wants the immigration status of students and their families to remain confidential (73%). And nearly two-thirds would like schools to serve as “sanctuary safe zones,” protecting students who are in the country illegally and their families from federal immigration enforcement efforts.

Paradoxically, in light of the support for vouchers, a majority of adults (54%) give their local schools a grade of A or B. And the number was higher (62%) for public-school parents.

There's frequently a political gulf between polling numbers on general attitudes and viewpoints shaped in the context of a looming election. For that reason, it's difficult to predict whether the voucher support would hold in the face of a campaign opposing it.

A 2000 measure to legalize vouchers in California was rejected by 71% of voters. Each side spent more than $30 million in the campaign. California voters also rejected a voucher proposal in 1993.

The poll results are based on a survey of 1,705 California adult residents interviewed on land lines and cellphones. Interviews took place from April 2 through 11, in English and Spanish. The estimated margin of error is 3.2%.

To read the article in Spanish, click here

howard.blume@latimes.com

@howardblume

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