North Carolina Voters Say Public Education Underperforming, on Wrong Track

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Sept. 10, 2012
CONTACT: Jim Tynen (919) 834-2099

RALEIGH—A majority of North Carolina voters are dissatisfied with the direction of the state’s public school system, according to a new survey released by two education-reform organizations. The poll also found that if given the ability, most voters would choose educational options outside the traditional public school system.

Of the 601 voters surveyed by Braun Research, Inc., 55 percent said North Carolina’s education system is on the wrong track; only 29 percent believe it is going in the right direction. When divided by region, area, and political affiliation, the dissatisfaction remains. At least 50 percent of respondents in every category believe North Carolina schools are on the wrong track. The “North Carolina K-12 & School Choice Survey,” sponsored by Raleigh’s Civitas Institute and the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, has a margin of error of ± 4.0 percentage points.

“North Carolina is part of a nationwide trend in which many voters are unhappy with the direction and quality of K-12 education,” Robert Enlow, president and CEO of the Friedman Foundation, said. More than half the voters surveyed, 52 percent, rated North Carolina’s public education system as fair/poor, with 45 percent calling it good/excellent.

The Friedman/Civitas survey also highlights what both groups call “a disconnect” between where North Carolina children currently go to school and where voters would like to send their kids if given the choice. Today, 87 percent of the state’s students attend traditional public schools, almost 3 percent are enrolled in charter schools, nearly 6 percent use private schools, and 5 percent are in home schools. However, if voters were given a choice in selecting schools, only 34 percent would pick traditional public schools whereas 39 percent would choose private schools, 15 percent charter schools, and 11 percent home schools.

“These results tell us what we’ve long thought: North Carolinians are not happy with the direction of public education. Although there are many good public schools, the high percentage of respondents who said they would choose to go elsewhere is a sentiment that can’t be ignored,” Dr. Robert Luebke, Senior Policy Analyst with the Civitas Institute, said. “It’s time to empower parents, expand educational opportunity, and bring true reform to our current system.”

Poll results and their implications will be the topic of a September 18 luncheon discussion sponsored by the Civitas Institute and the Friedman Foundation at the Raleigh Crabtree Marriott. For additional details see the Civitas web site:

The survey also asked voters what grades they would give their local public, charter, and private schools in addition to questions on taxation and spending levels. Those results are available at The survey’s questionnaire, complete results, and methodology will be available September 13.

About the survey: The “North Carolina K-12 & School Choice Survey” project, commissioned by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice and conducted by Braun Research, Inc. (BRI), interviewed a statistically representative sample of registered voters in the state of North Carolina. Methodology included probability sampling and random-digit dial. The statewide sample includes a total of 601 telephone interviews completed in English from June 18 to 24, 2012, by means of both landline and cell phone. The margin of sampling error for the statewide sample is ± 4.0 percentage points.

More information on the Civitas Institute is available at, or contact Jim Tynen at (919) 834-2099.

North Carolina K-12 School Choice Survey

About Jim Tynen

Communications director at Civitas.
This article was posted in Press Releases by Jim Tynen on September 10, 2012 at 9:13 AM.

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