AUSTIN, Texas – In a poll commissioned by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, 58 percent of Texans say they favor a school choice program. A similar percentage of the population believes public schools waste money. The scientific poll, conducted by Baselice & Associates, took place from June 11 to June 15, and involved more than 1000 Texans.

The poll asked, "Do you favor or oppose a proposal that would create a school choice program whereby education scholarships would be given by the state to pay for a child's education at any public, private or parochial school?"

Almost 40 percent of those polled "strongly" favor a voucher program, with another 18 percent in support. Only 31 percent of the state's population opposes such a program.

The Foundation's director of research, Chris Patterson, said polling results continue to demonstrate strong support for school choice throughout the state.

"What we see is that the people of Texas persist in demanding school choice," she said. "They see public schools wasting their money and they want change."

The poll also found 56 percent of Texans believe public schools "spend money in a wasteful fashion."

Patterson said the problem of waste should be of great importance as the legislature faces a special session on school finance later this year or in the spring of 2004.

"Too often politicians tell us the answer is more money," she said. "What research shows is that more money is not the solution. We should ask tough, fundamental questions about school operations, and the manner in which we educate our children in the first place."

Patterson said school choice "should be high on the list of priorities" in a special session dealing with education finance.

"School choice would force a higher level of accountability, and help combat the wasteful spending that Texans recognize in their public schools."