New Poll:  2 in 3 Memphis Voters Support Expansion of Charter, Magnet, and Other Public School Options Over Private School Vouchers

February 7, 2024

Leaders of Color Memphis releases results of new survey of 380 Memphis likely voters

MEMPHIS, TN- Leaders of Color, Memphis, an organization focused on identifying, training and elevating Black and Latinx leaders in Memphis to become civic and political education leaders, released results of a new public opinion poll commissioned by the organization focused on the beliefs, aspirations, and priorities of likely voters in Memphis.

The survey found that voters overwhelmingly support public school choice in Memphis and have a strong preference for an expansion of public school options as opposed to the creation of private school vouchers.

Key findings of the survey include:

·       Voters overwhelmingly prefer expansion of public school options including public charters, magnet schools, and career academies to private school vouchers. 66% said they support creating more public options so that parents can send their child to the public school of their choice compared to 34% of voters who said they preferred creating a school voucher that could be used at private schools.

·       Nearly 9 in 10 voters support public school choice. Fully 88%, said they strongly or somewhat agree with the statement that every parent deserves the right to select from an array of free public-school options–including public schools, magnet schools, career academies, and public charter schools.

·       Memphis Mayor Paul Young enjoys strong favorability ratings, with 61% of respondents saying they hold very or somewhat favorable views of him.

·       A near-majority of respondents, 49%, held either somewhat or very unfavorable views of Memphis Public Schools, while 42% held either somewhat or very favorable views of the school system.

·       Memphis Public Charter Schools were viewed more favorably than not–a combined 44% said they held either very or somewhat favorable views, while 23% held somewhat or very unfavorable views of public charter schools.

·       When voters were reminded that public charter schools are public schools that are free for students and must meet state accountability standards, the combined favorable number rises to 60%.

·       A majority, 54%, would give the school their child attends an “A” on a letter grade scale.

·       A plurality, 44%, would give Memphis-Shelby County public schools a “C”.

·       Crime and public safety is by far the top issue for voters, public school education comes in second. Almost 7 in 10, 69%, of respondents said the Mayor and City Council should make crime and public safety their top priority.

·       Higher pay for teachers and higher standards/more accountability in schools were seen as the top ways to improve public schools.

·       Vocational education and technical training, essential skills in math and reading as well as critical thinking, were seen as the best way to prepare students for success after high school.

The survey was conducted by Concord Public Opinion Partners between January 23 and 25. The 380 respondents were registered Memphis voters who voted in either the 2020 or 2022 general election. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 4.98%.


Leaders of Color, Memphis was launched in 2018 with a cohort of 15 community leaders. One current Memphis-Shelby County School Board member and four County Commissioners are Leaders of Color alumnae. Leaders of Color Memphis currently has over 80 program alumni impacting both political and civic space with over 200 total alumni from across the US. Some 75 percent are in community leadership positions and 20 percent are engaged politically, either running for political office themselves or serving on a campaign.


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