August 28, 2012

Gallup Poll: Americans support teachers, more education funding

Pennsylvania students head back to school amid funding and program uncertainties


With state funding cuts forcing school districts to eliminate more than 14,000 educators, Pennsylvania’s school-age children will see fewer teachers, larger classes, and fewer electives and tutoring opportunities for struggling students in their schools and classrooms.

This growing trend is mirrored in many other states. A new public opinion poll confirms that Americans are unhappy about it and want action from elected officials.

A national Gallup Organization poll conducted for Phi Delta Kappa confirms what Pennsylvanians have been saying.  There is a funding crisis in our public schools, and it’s the worst this nation has seen since the Great Depression.

The 2012 PDK/Gallup survey, “The Public’s Attitudes Toward Public Education,” shows that 71 percent of Americans have confidence in their children’s teachers. They also believe that lack of education funding is the biggest problem facing education today and even say they would be willing to pay higher taxes to improve educational opportunities for students in the most challenged schools.

"There’s more good news – Americans are saying enough is enough,” said PSEA President Mike Crossey. “They don’t want more talk from elected officials – they want action."

The survey found that Americans are deeply concerned about growing inequalities in the education system. While 43 percent cited lack of funding as the biggest challenge facing schools, 97 percent of the public agreed that it is important to improve the nation’s urban schools. Furthermore, almost two-thirds of respondents (62 percent) said they would pay more taxes to provide funds to improve the quality of these schools.
 
The full PDK/Gallup poll is available at www.pdkintl.org.

Crossey pointed out that a growing number of Pennsylvanians are acting on these attitudes.

In school districts like Upper Darby, Reading, South Fayette, and others, parents and educators are joining together to save programs that work for students – programs like full-day kindergarten, physical education, art, and music. They are part of a statewide group, Partners for Public Education, which includes thousands of parents and neighbors who support their public schools.

Learn more at www.partnersforpubliced.org.

The PDK/Gallup findings are similar to the Terry Madonna Opinion Research survey of Pennsylvanians, released in October 2011. The Terry Madonna survey revealed that, by a wide margin, Pennsylvanians oppose Gov. Tom Corbett’s state funding cuts to public education, and support investments in programs that work – such as tutoring students, smaller classes and making schools safer.

According to the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators and the Pennsylvania Association of School business Officials, 60 percent of the state’s school districts responded to state funding cuts by increasing class sizes in 2011-12. The two groups also reported that: 58 percent of districts cut music, art, physical education or advanced placement classes; 46 percent cut field trips; 75 percent reduced staff by furlough or attrition; 19 percent cut early-childhood programs; and 37 percent cut tutoring and after-school programs.

PSEA in March 2012 issued a report, “Sounding the Alarm: PSEA’s White Paper on the Increasing Number of Pennsylvania School Districts at Risk of Financial Distress.” The report is available at www.psea.org/soundingthealarm.

 

 



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