Nearly half of North Carolinians oppose school vouchers, while majority support stem cell research

Support for school vouchers in North Carolina remains mixed, with no majority of respondents in the latest Elon University Poll showing a strong inclination either for or against such a program.

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The poll, conducted Sept. 29 – Oct. 2 , surveyed 477 North Carolina residents and has a margin of error of 4.6 percentage points. The sample is of the population in general, with numbers that include both landlines and cellular phones, and does not restrict respondents by their voter eligibility or likelihood of voting in an election.

The survey concentrated on two issues – public education and stem cell research – that have received recent attention from candidates running for governor in the fall elections.

When asked whether they agree or disagree that parents who choose to educate their children in private or religious schools should receive a voucher from the state for their child’s education, respondents indicated the following:

  • Disagree or strongly disagree with use of vouchers: 49.1%
  • Agree or strongly agree with use of vouchers: 41.5%
  • The issue doesn’t affect me: 1.9%
  • Don’t know or refused to answer: 7.4%

When asked to gauge the impact of a voucher program on public schools, poll respondents indicated the following:

  • School vouchers will take money out of the public school system, thus weakening the public school system: 46%
  • School vouchers will encourage competition among schools, thus strengthening the public school system: 41%

Respondents were also asked about funding equity in local public school systems.  When levels of funding for North Carolina education are unequal across districts, 78% of respondents agree that the state should give money to those districts to ensure that all school districts spend about the same amount for each student.  Thirteen percent did not agree that the state should give money and 9% of respondents didn’t know.

Forty-eight percent of respondents supported state involvement in poor performing districts, while 41% indicated that the state should not be involved.  Ten percent of respondents didn’t know whether the state should take over schools.

“North Carolinians obviously prefer a strong state presence in education, which may explain the lack of enthusiasm for vouchers,” said Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll.

Stem Cell Research

The poll included three questions about stem cell research. Respondents were asked the following question (selection choices enclosed in brackets were alternated randomly):

How clear are you, personally, on the difference between stem cells that come from human embryos; stem cells that come from adults; and stem cells that come from other sources, such as an umbilical cord?  Are you [not at all clear, not real clear, clear, or very clear]?

  • Not at all clear: 11.6%
  • Not real clear: 25.2%
  • Clear: 35.4%
  • Very Clear: 24.4%
  • Don’t Know: 2.6%

A majority of North Carolinians (53%) support medical research that uses stem cells from human embryos, while 31% opposed or strongly opposed medical research that uses stem cells from human embryos.  Eleven percent of respondents indicated that they didn’t know.

On the topic of funding, 51% of respondents said they support or strongly support public funding for stem cell research. Six percent of respondents supported some stem cell research, but not all, and one out of every 10 respondents indicated they don’t know how they feel about public funding.