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HPU Poll: N.C. Residents Favor Tax Increase to Raise Teacher Pay

02.4.2014
In: News

HIGH POINT, N.C., Feb. 4, 2014 – As the North Carolina legislature prepares to discuss education this week, most North Carolinians say they are willing to pay higher taxes in order to increase teacher pay. Respondents in a new High Point University poll also gave their opinion on education legislation recently signed into law.

The poll found that 72 percent of respondents said they would favor a tax increase to raise teacher pay in North Carolina to the national average over the next four years, while 25 percent said they were opposed. The poll also found that 88 percent of respondents believe the decision not to increase teacher salaries this past year will have a strong negative or negative impact on the quality of public education in North Carolina, 7 percent said it will have no impact and 5 percent believe it will have a strong positive or positive impact.

“The national Measures of Effective Teaching study determined that the teacher is the most important contributor to student learning. It is encouraging to know that 72 percent of the HPU survey of North Carolinians indicated a willingness to pay additional taxes to raise teacher pay to the state average over a four year period,” says Dr. Don Martin professor of education at HPU and former Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools superintendent.

Lack of increases in teacher salaries were one of four recent legislative decisions respondents believe will negatively impact North Carolina’s public education. They also disagree with the N.C. General Assembly’s decisions to stop providing additional pay to teachers who earn a master’s degree in education (83 percent), reduce per pupil funding (73 percent) and to remove class size caps (89 percent).

Of the items that were presented on the poll, there were two legislative decisions that respondents believe will have a positive impact on public education: implementing the Read to Achieve Program (74 percent) and increasing funding for Teach for America in the state (78 percent).

Respondents were mixed on legislation to eliminate teacher tenure, teacher performance bonuses and providing low income families with vouchers to attend private schools.

All adults – Tax increase for teacher salaries

The average salary for North Carolina public school teachers is ranked forty-sixth (46th) in the United States. Knowing this, would you favor or oppose a tax increase to raise teacher pay in North Carolina to the national average over the next four years?

Favor – 72 percent
Oppose – 25 percent
Don’t know/refused – 3 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed January 26 – 30, 2014, n = 421 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

All adults – Legislative impact on public education

I am going to read a list of summaries of legislation that the North Carolina General Assembly passed and Governor McCrory signed into law.

Please indicate to what extent you believe these changes will impact the quality of public education in North Carolina.

Teachers in North Carolina will no longer receive additional pay for earning a master’s degree in education.

Strong negative impact – 47 percent
Negative impact – 36 percent
No impact – 9 percent
Positive impact – 3 percent
Strong positive impact – 2 percent
Don’t know/refused – 2 percent

Teacher tenure has been eliminated with all teachers placed on 1-, 2- or 4- year contracts by 2018.

Strong negative impact – 19 percent
Negative impact – 35 percent
No impact – 10 percent
Positive impact – 19 percent
Strong positive impact – 10 percent
Don’t know/refused – 7 percent

Twenty five percent (25%) of teachers in a school district will receive performance bonuses of $500 a year. Criteria for identifying the 25% of teachers have not been determined.

Strong negative impact – 8 percent
Negative impact – 27 percent
No impact – 17 percent
Positive impact – 26 percent
Strong positive impact – 12 percent
Don’t know/refused – 10 percent

Implementing the Read to Achieve Program to ensure every student reads at or above grade level by the end of third grade or they are remediated or retained.

Strong negative impact – 6 percent
Negative impact – 10 percent
No impact – 5 percent
Positive impact – 46 percent
Strong positive impact – 28 percent
Don’t know/refused – 6 percent

Teacher salaries were not increased making this the 4th time in 5 years that teachers have received no raise in pay.

Strong negative impact – 47 percent
Negative impact – 41 percent
No impact – 7 percent
Positive impact – 3 percent
Strongly positive impact – 2 percent
Don’t know/refused – 2 percent

Per pupil funding was reduced. North Carolina ranks among the bottom few states in per pupil funding.

Strong negative impact – 36 percent
Negative impact – 37 percent
No impact – 9 percent
Positive impact – 5 percent
Strong positive impact – 1 percent
Don’t know/refused – 13 percent

Teach for America, a program that recruits college graduates and trains them for 6 weeks, was provided an additional $6 million to place teachers in North Carolina Schools.

Strong negative impact – 3 percent
Negative impact – 5 percent
No impact – 10 percent
Positive impact – 57 percent
Strong positive impact – 21 percent
Don’t know/refused – 5 percent

The state will provide low-income families with $4,200 vouchers to attend private school, with $50 million to be allocated in 2015 alone.

Strong negative impact – 16 percent
Negative impact – 26 percent
No impact – 11 percent
Positive impact – 30 percent
Strong positive impact – 14 percent
Don’t know/refused – 3 percent

Removing class size caps. That is, there are no longer limits on how large public schools can be.

Strong negative impact – 45 percent
Negative impact – 44 percent
No impact – 5 percent
Positive impact – 4 percent
Strong positive impact – 1 percent
Don’t know/refused – 1 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed January 26 – 30, 2014, n = 421 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

Note: The preceding list of eight items was adapted for comparison purposes from the recent survey study by Drs. Scott Imig and Robert Smith of the University of North Carolina Wilmington of the attitudes of teachers in Southeastern, North Carolina. It is available at: http://people.uncw.edu/imigs/documents/SmithImigReport.pdf

The most recent survey was fielded by live interviewers at the High Point University Survey Research Center calling on Jan. 26 – 30, 2014. The responses from a sample of all North Carolina counties came from 421 adults with landline or cellular telephones. The Survey Research Center contracted with Survey Sampling International to acquire this sample. The survey has an estimated margin of sampling error of approximately 4.8 percentage points for these respondents. The data are weighted toward population estimates for cellular and landline telephone use, age, gender and race. In addition to sampling error, factors such as question wording and other methodological choices in conducting survey research can introduce additional error into the findings of opinion polls.

Further results and methodological details from the most recent survey and past studies can be found at the Survey Research Center website at http://www.highpoint.edu/src/. The materials on-line include past press releases as well as memos summarizing the findings (including approval ratings) for each poll since 2010.

You can follow the HPU Poll on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SurveyResearchCenter and Twitter at http://twitter.com/HPUSurveyCenter.

Dr. Martin Kifer, assistant professor of political science, serves as the director of the HPU Poll, and Dr. Sadie Leder Elder, assistant professor of psychology, serves as the associate director of the HPU Poll.

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