Gov. Tony Evers’ education policies are having trouble winning popular support, according to a new poll released Tuesday by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL).
“This poll reveals Wisconsin voters are not lining up to support Governor Evers’ education agenda – in fact, some of the key communities he claims to support want to protect the policies he is attacking, like school choice,” said Will Flanders, research director for WILL. “Just one third of respondents support a freeze on choice and charter schools, and key elements of the governor’s political coalition support school choice.”
The poll of 1,400 Wisconsin voters was conducted by Dynata for WILL and has a margin of error of +/- three percent. The political identification of the sample was 29.36 percent Republican, 28.29 percent Democratic and 42.35 percent independent. “These figures are similar to the Marquette Law School Poll which has found 27 percent Republican, 30 percent Democrats and 41 percent independents on average,” according to the WILL polling memo.
Evers included in his budget proposal a freeze on the number of students enrolled in the state’s private school voucher programs for economically disadvantaged children. But as the poll shows, Evers’ plan lacks popular support even among traditional Democratic constituencies.
Only 33 percent of all respondents support Evers’ freeze while 36 percent oppose it. The numbers are similar for Democratic respondents, where a small plurality oppose the freeze 34.77 percent to 33.15 percent. The results become less surprising given the poll showing 66 percent support for voucher programs among African American respondents and 60 percent support from Hispanics.
Evers’ plan to freeze the number of charter schools in Wisconsin also fails to win the public’s support. Only 27 percent of respondents support the Evers freeze plan while 40 percent oppose it, with 29 percent undecided. Even among Democrats, 42 percent are opposed while just 26.51 percent support the freeze.
More money for public schools also takes a popularity hit when respondents are told there are no accountability controls on the new spending. Support changes from 59 percent approval to just 39 percent approval.
The poll also found continued support for provisions of Act 10, perhaps explaining why Evers did not include repeal of the reforms made under his predecessor, Gov. Scott Walker, despite stating his opposition to the 2011 state law. The poll found that 60 percent of respondents supported teachers contributing 12 percent to their health care costs and six percent of their pension benefits.