WASHINGTON (AP) -- Americans tend to favor the idea of school vouchers that help send low income children to private or parochial schools, says an Associated Press poll, at least until they hear that could decrease the money available for public schools.
Then support dwindles rapidly.
Steve Klug is a father of two who thinks vouchers are a good idea, but he hesitated when he heard that might take money from the public schools in Glenellyn, Ill., where he sends his children.
"Now that gets confusing," said Klug, a 51-year-old cook.
Those mixed feelings are reflected in the findings of an Associated Press poll on school vouchers. The poll, conducted for The AP by ICR/International Communications Research of Media, Pa., showed people favored the idea of school vouchers to help send children to private or parochial schools by a 51-40 margin. But when asked if they still support the idea if it takes money from public schools, they opposed vouchers by a 2-to-1 margin.
The proposal of funneling tax money to private and parochial schools and the likelihood that would drain money from public schools, is a hot political topic. About half of Republicans, Democrats and independents support the idea of school vouchers to give low-income children a choice in schools. Young adults were more likely than older Americans to support such vouchers.
When the possibility is mentioned that vouchers could take money from public schools, Republican support drops to just under four in 10 while Democratic support drops to one in four. The support drops to three in 10 with independents.
The Supreme Court ruled in late June that school voucher programs are constitutional if they provide parents a choice among a range of religious and secular schools. The court endorsed a 6-year-old pilot program in inner-city Cleveland that provides parents a tax-supported education stipend. Parents may use the money to opt out of one of the worst-rated public school systems in the nation.
The issue is still a source of turmoil within the courts. In Florida, a circuit judge ruled Monday that the state constitution forbids the use of tax money to send children to religious schools. The decision could affect students who hoped to participate in the nation's only statewide voucher system.
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