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Dougco Loves Choice, School Board’s Reforms

DENVER—Results of a recent survey show strong backing from Douglas County residents for a groundbreaking private school choice program and a host of other reforms pursued by the local school board.

Healthy majorities of suburban Denver school district voters expressed support for everything from school choice and performance pay to working without the teachers union. Asked whether the package of reforms was good for Douglas County, 59 percent agreed while only 25 percent disagreed.

“Clearly the people of Dougco like the policy direction their school board has taken,” said Independence Institute executive vice president Amy Oliver Cooke.

Among respondents, 55 percent favored implementing vouchers, compared to 37 percent opposed. When told state judges have upheld the constitutionality of the Choice Scholarship Program, first adopted by the board in 2011, the margins increased to 56-34.

Douglas County’s pay-for-performance program secured the greatest approval (68 percent), followed by the board’s decision to allow the teacher union contract to expire (64 percent), and the use of market-based pay to attract new teachers and other school employees (59 percent).

The education reform agenda’s strongest support came from registered Republicans, men, and young adults (ages 18 to 34).

“Douglas County’s bold innovation looks like the wave of the future for K-12 education,” Cooke said.

To listen to Cooke and senior education policy analyst Ben DeGrow highlight some of the key results along with more context of the district’s reform programs and plans, check out the new podcast at http://audio.ivoices.org/mp3/iipodcast614.mp3.

The telephone survey of a representative sample of 839 Douglas County likely voters was conducted for the Independence Institute by Magellan Strategies on April 1 and 2. Topline results are available at http://bit.ly/11QxMXy, and crosstabs can be viewed at http://bit.ly/YDhhl4.

The Independence Institute is a non-partisan, non-profit public policy research organization based in Denver.