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AFP-TN Polling Shows School Choice Is Wildly Popular with Rural Tennessee Republican Voters 

Feb 26, 2024 by AFP

Nashville, TN – Today, Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee (AFP-TN) released a slate of new polling showing that ESAs (Education Savings Accounts) are exceedingly popular with rural Tennessee Republican voters.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

AFP-TN commissioned Tennessee based pollster Spry Strategies.                                                                                                                                         

“We hired Spry strategies to do this research because they are a known & trusted pollster among Tennessee’s Republican lawmakers,” said Mike Lotfi, AFP-TN Deputy State Director. “Spry has been polling for members’ campaigns with a high degree of accuracy for years, so lawmakers know they can trust the results.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

The findings, across five separate rural State Senate districts, show 70.4% of voters polled support Governor Bill Lee’s proposed school choice program.                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

“Voters support Gov. Lee’s vision for school choice,” said AFP-TN State Director Tori Venable. “Parents want to be in control of how education tax dollars allocated for their children are spent and be empowered to decide how their children are educated. It’s as simple as that.”                                                                                                                                                                       

The findings also show 81% of voters polled support the program being universal, meaning all citizens could take part in the program, regardless of how little or much money they make.                                                                                                                                                  

“Republican voters don’t believe in class warfare,” said Venable. “It doesn’t matter if you make $30k a year, or $300k a year, every parent should have the right to access this program. People who make more money shouldn’t be responsible for paying into a failing system they don’t even use, then be forced to pay even more on top of it to get their children out of that failing system. On the other hand, you have parents who cannot afford to get their kids out of a failing system, and they’re stuck there because special interest bureaucrats are more concerned with protecting an institution than they are seeing Tennessee’s third graders being able to read. Parents know what’s best. Put them back in control.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

When told that those who oppose the school choice program say it will take funding away from public schools, 79% of voters still said the money should follow the child wherever the parent decides to educate their child.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Universal school choice is a pivotal issue for rural Tennesseans. Even when presented with doomsday, Armageddon scenarios peddled by unions and the far left, Republican voters see through it and understand the need for a major shake-up in how we educate Tennessee’s next generation of leaders,” said Venable.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Polled respondents also signaled overwhelming support for lawmakers who would vote in favor of the Governor’s proposal, saying they’re more likely to support a candidate that supports universal school choice, while only 23% said they weren’t likely to support a candidate who supported the proposal.                                                                                                                                                                                                                

“For lawmakers concerned with their upcoming primaries, I think it’s pretty clear which side of the issue the vast majority of voters want them to be on,” said Lotfi. “While I have no doubt lawmakers are hearing from school boards and administrators around the state that have failed parents, students, and teachers for decades, voters are clearly telling those lawmakers to empower parents by funding students, not institutions.”