Most North Carolinians Oppose Public Spending on Private, Religious Schools, New Poll Finds

Crowds cheer during a 2018 demonstration against the GOP-controlled NC General Assembly's education policies, including the state's expanding private school voucher program. School funding is one of the areas that figures to suffer if Republicans eliminate the state's corporate tax. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)

By Billy Ball

February 7, 2022

Schools teaching outdated Biblical views of the world have reaped millions in public funding in the last decade. 

North Carolina spends big – more than $75 million a year – on private school vouchers, the lion’s share of which goes to religious schools. 

But most of the state’s voters are fundamentally opposed to spending public dollars on religious instruction, new polling suggests. That opposition cuts across political boundaries, with just 50% of Republican voters backing public funding for private, religious schools.

According to the poll, 54% of all voters “strongly” or “somewhat” oppose public vouchers on private religious schools. Another 14% were “unsure” how they felt.

Most North Carolinians Oppose Public Spending on Private, Religious Schools, New Poll Finds

The polling, which has a 3.5% margin of error, questioned 625 registered North Carolina voters in the last week of January. It was commissioned by the progressive advocacy group Carolina Forward.

North Carolina’s private school voucher program, which dispenses scholarships to low-income families, has been steadily growing in the state budget since Republican lawmakers created the program in 2013.

Supporters call it a means of offering school choice to low-income families. But its overwhelming usage in religious schools is troubling to some educators and parents. 

As Carolina Forward pointed out, a 2017 study by the League of Women Voters found three-quarters of voucher schools were teaching “literal” points from the Bible that are out of step with modern science. Some also teach anti-LGBTQ views. 

“Outside of a tiny minority of very conservative activists, school vouchers are deeply unpopular with the public,” Blair Reeves, executive director of Carolina Forward, said in a statement. “Programs like these fundamentally rely on misleading the public about what they actually do.” 


  • Billy Ball

    Billy Ball is Cardinal & Pine's senior community editor. He’s covered local, state and national politics, government, education, criminal justice, the environment and immigration in North Carolina for almost two decades, winning state, regional and national awards for his reporting and commentary.

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