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Haslam's school voucher plan splits Tennesseans, poll says

11:47 AM, Feb 26, 2013   |    comments
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Tennesseans remain split on Gov. Bill Haslam's plan to spend state money on private schooling for poor children in failing public schools, but views differ sharply by race, according to a new poll from MTSU.

A phone poll of 650 random Tennesseans conducted earlier this month found 46 percent opposed to the voucher plan while 40 percent in support of it -- a statistical "dead heat," according to a news release from Middle Tennessee State University. Another 12 percent of Tennesseans said they did not know, and the remaining 2 percent declined to answer.

"Statewide, it's too close to call," poll director Dr. Ken Blake said in the release. "Supporters of the plan outnumbered opponents in our sample, but it's unclear whether the same is true among all Tennesseans. They appear evenly, or nearly evenly, divided."

Opinions on the governor's proposal are divided sharply by race, with 63 percent of minorities in favor compared to only 37 percent of whites, according to the release.

The poll also measured the respondents' opinions of Tennessee's public schools.

Schools got about a "C" on average but respondents gave the quality of their local schools a significantly higher "C-plus" on average.

Tennesseans in the "doughnut" of counties circling Nashville are significantly happier with the quality of their local public schools than are residents of Davidson County and West Tennessee, the poll suggests.

-Staff reports

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