About four out of five Americans with children in school would like to see federal and state governments fund parental choice of schools, according to a new national Gallup Organization poll.

A school-voucher system would allow parents to use tax dollars to send their children to the school of their choice. Debate over this kind of education reform centers on whether the public money that follows a parent's choice should go to private and parochial schools.

The poll, released Thursday, was sponsored by the National Catholic Educational Association, representing educators from Catholic schools, which would be the beneficiaries of millions of tax dollars if a full-choice voucher system were instituted. Gallup surveyed a sampling of 1,239 adults representative of the general United States population.

Support for a government-funded voucher system, including any public, parochial, or private school, ran 70 percent in favor to 27 percent opposed among the general population. Among adults with children in school, support was 78 percent.

"This shows support for a concept," says George Gallup Jr., co-chairman of the Gallup Organization. The poll did not show the range of support for the various methods to achieve a fair system of choice.

For example, though Americans appear to overwhelmingly support school choice, they are somewhat less supportive of the specific proposal to allow some of the tax money now going to public schools to follow children to the school of their choice. Among adults with children in school, 68 percent support the idea.

Further, asked whether they had sufficient information to make the best choice for their children, about 40 percent of parents said they did not.

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