Poll: Education Savings Accounts receive majority support from Democrats, Republicans and Independents

Feb 6, 2020

SEATTLE— New poll results from Washington Policy Center illustrate widespread, bipartisan support for Education Savings Accounts for special needs families.  The idea of giving families with special needs children who struggle in a typical classroom setting special accounts so that they could purchase specialized education services from private tutors was popular among Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike.

“The public is clearly sympathetic to the needs of these families,” explained Liv Finne, Director of the Center for Education at Washington Policy Center. “Now all that’s needed is for policymakers to catch up.  No one is going to look after these kids with as much attention and love as their parents. They need the tools to do what is best for their children.”

Senate Bill 6520, sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Mark Schoesler (R-Ritzville), introduces a similar concept.  It has been introduced in the 2020 legislative session and, if enacted, would provide tax credit scholarships up to $15,000 to families with special needs children and/or children in foster care.  (WPC’s Legislative Memo on this can be read here.)

The statewide poll was conducted among a representative sample of 500 voters statewide and was conducted November 17 – 21, 2019.  Cell phone connections accounted for 63 percent of respondents, while landline connections accounted for 27 percent.  The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.
The poll question was phrased as follows:

Several states are allowing special needs families to have access to education savings accounts or ‘ESAs.’ Families with such an ESA could afford to buy specialized education services from private tutors that could be the key to helping children who struggle in a typical classroom setting.  The State Treasurer would audit ESAs to ensure the money is used for education purposes. Would you support or oppose giving families of special needs children access to $15,000 dollar education savings accounts?”
Strongly Support – 42%
Support - 26%
Oppose – 10 %
Strongly Oppose -10 %
Don’t know – 13%
The following crosstabs give detail as to the broad popularity of ESAs for special needs families: