PUBLIC OPINION POLL FINDS WIDESPREAD SUPPORT FOR PROVEN SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT STRATEGIES, OPPOSITION TO STATE FUNDING CUTS FOR PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC SCHOOLS
HARRISBURG (Oct. 5, 2011) – By a wide margin, Pennsylvanians oppose recent state funding cuts to public education and support investments in programs that work, according to a new public opinion poll.
Pennsylvanians strongly support investing in tutoring students, reducing class sizes and making schools safer. By a similarly wide margin, Pennsylvanians oppose creating a taxpayer-funded voucher system for private and religious schools.
Those are the findings of the latest Terry Madonna Opinion Research survey, released today by the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA). The results are available today on PSEA’s website, www.psea.org.
“By a nearly two-to-one margin, Pennsylvanians oppose the recent funding cuts to the Commonwealth’s public schools,” said PSEA President Michael J. Crossey. “They overwhelmingly support recommendations in Solutions That Work, PSEA’s blueprint for education reform. And it is clear they don’t support tuition vouchers.”
The Madonna poll asked Pennsylvanians for their views regarding the $860 million cut from public schools as part of the state budget Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law last June. Sixty-nine percent said they oppose or strongly oppose these cuts, while only 27 percent said they favor or strongly favor the action.
The Madonna poll then asked survey respondents to give their opinion on how state funds for education should be used if the cuts were restored.
The respondents favored or strongly favored “more individualized student attention and tutoring” (89 percent),reduced class sizes (88 percent), and “programs to help make schools safer” (85 percent). They also favored: alternative placement for disruptive/violent students (85 percent); “pre- and full-day kindergarten” (73 percent); and “programs to coordinate school, community and law enforcement programs”(79 percent).At the same time, the poll results establish Pennsylvanians oppose “a voucher plan to send students to private, religious and parochial schools.” Fifty-nine percent said they were “strongly opposed or somewhat opposed” to vouchers, while only 38 percent were in favor of such plans.
The programs supported by the respondents, tutoring, smaller classes, safe school and alternative student placement pre- and full-day kindergarten, and coordinated school/community strategies are all included in PSEA’s school reform agenda, “Solutions That Work.” Read more about “Solutions That Work” at www.solutionsthatwork.org.
Crossey said, “These findings show the public backs common-sense, research-based strategies to improve education, and providing schools with adequate, equitable resources.”
A report released last month from two groups representing school administrators and business managers detailed how state funding cuts to Pennsylvania’s public schools have resulted in larger classes, reduced course offerings and tutoring opportunities, as the school year began this fall.
“The Madonna poll is yet the latest indication that Pennsylvanians believe the governor and state lawmakers need to change direction when it comes to education priorities,” said Crossey.
The poll presents the findings of a survey of 801 Pennsylvania adults designed by Terry Madonna Opinion Research and conducted September 2011. The sample error for the total sample is plus or minus 3.5 percent.
Crossey is a special education teacher in the Keystone Oaks School District. A state affiliate of the National Education Association, PSEA represents approximately 193,000 future, active and retired teachers and school employees, and health care workers in Pennsylvania.