Almost half of Marion County voters think the county’s public education system is on the wrong track in a new survey for Indy Politics conducted by Mason Strategies. In addition, by a 55 percent to 40 percent majority, voters support school choice to let parents choose where to send their children.

The survey of 400 likely voters, conducted Aug 11-14, shows only 31 percent of respondents thought Marion County schools are on the right track. This dissatisfaction is held more by Republicans (57 percent) and Independents (51 percent), but also more Democrats feel schools are on the wrong track (44 percent) than the right track (35 percent)

There are no significant differences by age groups or by ethnicity; however, women are more negative as only 27 percent say public education is on the right track, compared to 36 percent of men.

Voters feel similarly about one specific school district, Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS). However, voters are split about public charter schools in Marion County with 34 percent saying they are on the right track and 37 saying wrong track, a statistical tie. While there were no significant difference in views of charter schools by age, gender, or even political affiliation, a majority of black voters (51 percent) are positive on charter schools, compared to 36 percent who say they’re on the wrong track.

“In a county where folks are largely content, public education stands out as a source of disapproval for voters,” said Stephen Spiker, President and owner of Mason Strategies. “Marion County’s charter schools are one of the few bright spots, particularly among black voters.”

Black voters are also more opinionated on the IPS district, as over 90 percent answered with either “right track” or “wrong track”, compared to 29 percent of white voters who couldn’t answer the question. However, black opinions on IPS are split, with 46 percent having a positive view and 46 percent having a negative view.

Most Marion County voters (55 percent) support using taxpayer dollars to provide school choice to allow parents to place their children in the public or private school which best serves their needs. Support for school choice is highest among Republicans (64 percent), Independents (56 percent), and black voters (60 percent). Democrats are split at 48 percent supporting and 48 percent opposing.

“School choice is not only a popular policy in Marion County,” said Spiker “but it is also one that divides Democratic voters and presents a real outreach opportunity to black voters, who are more highly engaged on education issues than other voters.”

The poll had a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percent.

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