HPU Poll: North Carolinians Share Their Views on Education Policy

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HIGH POINT, N.C., Feb. 13, 2017 – North Carolinians are engaged and interested in offering opinions on the state’s public schools, according to the 2017 HPU Education Poll, a joint venture between selected faculty in the Department of Leadership Studies in the School of Education and HPU’s Survey Research Center.

In the statewide survey, 55 percent of North Carolinians say that they think public education in North Carolina is headed in the wrong direction, and 31 percent said it was headed in the right direction. 

North Carolina residents generally support a statewide bond referendum to pay for school construction and are also willing to pay more taxes to support increased teacher pay. In fact, 71 percent of respondents said that they favor a state bond referendum to fund an estimated $8 billion to $10 billion backlog in construction and renovation. Large majorities of North Carolinians say that they believe North Carolina teachers are paid too little (84 percent), and they would be willing to pay more in taxes to raise teacher pay to the national average within five years (77 percent).

The poll results indicate that North Carolina residents also support additional state funding going to schools with students identified as ELL (“English Language Learners” coming from non-English-speaking homes and backgrounds) (72 percent), exceptional children—defined as those with different education needs due to physical, mental or social disabilities (87 percent), and low income students (85 percent).  

Another investment North Carolina residents seem willing to support is university-based leadership training and development of teacher leaders, with 85 percent of respondents voicing support for more funding.  

Four out of five (80 percent) poll respondents indicated they would be willing to vote for a law that would spend government money to establish federal and state programs making high-quality pre-schools available to every child in America who qualifies for the federally-assisted meal program.

As far as direction of schools, poll results indicate that N.C. residents believe that school districts—rather than legislators—should have authority to set the academic year starting dates. About three out of five (59 percent) of survey respondents said that school districts should be allowed flexibility to start the school year at the same time as community colleges and universities, compared to 37 percent who said that state law should determine the start date for all North Carolina public schools.

They also believe that ratings that report “quality” of schools should emphasize overall improvement scores of students more than their proficiency scores. Two-thirds (67 percent) of North Carolinians said that they favored grading schools with more emphasis on overall improvement rather than more emphasis on how many students attain a proficiency standard (22 percent).

NC residents also believe that, in general, most people have respect for principals, teachers and superintendents. More than three out of five North Carolinians said most people have respect for these groups: school principals (69 percent), public school teachers (68 percent) and school superintendents (62 percent). These ratings were comparable to businesses or private companies (66 percent), North Carolina’s governor (65 percent), and faith-based organizations (63 percent), whom majorities of North Carolina residents all said received respect from most people. 

“It’s encouraging that North Carolina residents view education as a ‘human enterprise,’” says Dr. Barbara Mallory, associate professor of HPU’s Ed.D. Program in Educational Leadership. “They support more training for teachers, leaders, increase in teacher pay and high-quality pre-school. They indicate a willingness to invest in the people – teachers, students and school leaders – who make education happen in North Carolina.

“We also see convergence with public and educator views on some issues that impact education, such as a willingness to support universal pre-school and a statewide bond referendum for school construction.”

 

All adults – Direction of Public Education (January/February 2017)

Overall, in which direction would you say that public education in North Carolina is headed? Would you say the right direction or wrong direction?

Right direction – 31 percent

Wrong direction – 55 percent

(Don’t know/Refused) – 14 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Jan. 28 – Feb. 3, 2017, n = 405 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.9 percent)

 

All adults – Statewide Bond Referendum (January/February 2017)

The last statewide bond referendum for public school facility construction and maintenance was held in 1997. Would you generally favor or oppose a statewide bond referendum to provide North Carolina school districts with funds to address an estimated 8 to 10-billion-dollar backlog in school construction and renovation?

Favor – 71 percent

Oppose – 17 percent

(Don’t know/Refused) – 12 percent                                                                   

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Jan. 28 – Feb. 3, 2017, n = 405 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.9 percent)

 

All adults – Teacher Pay (January/February 2017)

Generally speaking, would you say that North Carolina public school TEACHERS are paid too little, about the right amount, or too much?

Too little – 84 percent

About right – 10 percent

Too much – 2 percent

(Don’t know/Refused) – 4 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Jan. 28 – Feb. 3, 2017, n = 405 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.9 percent)

 

All adults – Tax increase (January/February 2017)

Would you be willing to pay more in taxes so that North Carolina TEACHERS would be paid at the level of the national average within five years?

Yes – 77 percent   

No – 18 percent    

(Don’t know/Refused) – 5 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Jan. 28 – Feb. 3, 2017, n = 405 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.9 percent)

 

All adults – Additional state funding (January/February 2017)

Now I am going to read you a list of school types. Please tell me if you feel they should receive additional funds from the state:

[Exceptional Children, sometimes called EC, include students who have different educational needs due to physical, mental, or social disabilities]

 

Schools with a high percentage of low income students:

Yes – 85 percent

No – 13 percent

(Don’t know/Refused) – 3 percent

 

Schools with English Language Learners:

Yes – 72 percent

No – 23 percent

(Don’t know/Refused) – 5 percent

 

Schools with Exceptional Children programs:

Yes – 87 percent

No – 12 percent

(Don’t know/Refused) – 1 percent

 

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Jan. 28 – Feb. 3, 2017, n = 405 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.9 percent)

 

All adults – University-based training (January/February 2017)

Thinking about leadership in the public school system, should there be more or less funding for university-based leadership training and development of each of the following

Teacher Leaders:

More – 85 percent

Less – 8 percent

(Don’t know/Refused) – 7 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Jan. 28 – Feb. 3, 2017, n = 405 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.9 percent)

 

All adults – Preschools (January/February 2017)

Would you vote for or against a law that would spend government money to establish federal and state programs making high-quality preschools available to every child in America who would qualify for free lunch?

Vote against – 15 percent

Vote for – 80 percent

(Don’t know/Refused) – 5 percent

 

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Jan. 28 – Feb. 3, 2017, n = 405 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.9 percent)

 

All adults – School Start Date (January/February 2017)

Currently, State law requires public schools in North Carolina to start school the last week of August, no earlier than the Monday closest to August 26th. Previously, state law allowed local school districts to determine the starting day for their schools, and many districts started school in early August. Which statement best captures your opinion?

School districts should be allowed flexibility to start the school year at the same time as community colleges and universities – 59 percent

State law should determine the start date for all North Carolina public schools – 37 percent

(Don’t know/Refused) – 4 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Jan. 28 – Feb. 3, 2017, n = 405 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.9 percent)

 

All adults – Improvement versus proficiency (January/February 2017)

I am going to read two statements about how to rate the quality of schools.  Please tell me whether the first statement or the second statement is closer to your own view.

More emphasis on overall improvement – 67 percent

More emphasis on how many students attain proficiency – 22 percent

(Neither) – 2 percent

(Both) – 4 percent

(Don’t know/Refused) – 5 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Jan. 28 – Feb. 3, 2017, n = 405 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.9 percent)

 

All adults – Respect (January/February 2017)

I am going to read you a list of government officials and some other groups.  Please tell me whether you think that in general most people have respect for these people or groups.

Public school teachers

Yes – 68 percent

No – 26 percent

(Don’t know/Refused) – 6 percent

 

School principals

Yes – 69 percent

No – 22 percent

(Don’t know/Refused) – 9 percent

 

School superintendents

Yes – 62 percent

No – 26 percent

(Don’t know/Refused) – 12 percent

 

Businesses or Private Companies

Yes – 66 percent

No – 22 percent

(Don’t know/Refused) – 13 percent

 

Faith-based organizations

Yes – 63 percent

No – 26 percent

(Don’t know/Refused) – 11 percent

 

North Carolina Governor

Yes – 65 percent

No – 24 percent

(Don’t know/Refused) – 11 percent

 

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Jan. 28 – Feb. 3, 2017, n = 405 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.9 percent)

 

The most recent HPU Poll in collaboration with the HPU School of Education was fielded by live interviewers at the High Point University Survey Research Center calling on Jan. 28 – Feb. 3, 2017. The responses from a sample of all North Carolina counties came from 405 adults with landline or cellular telephones. The registered voter subsample relied on responses from the participants about their own registration status and yielded a total of 373 respondents.  The Survey Research Center contracted with Survey Sampling International to acquire this sample. The survey has an estimated margin of sampling error of approximately 4.9 percentage points for all adult respondents and an approximate margin of sampling error of 5.1 percent for the self-described registered voters. The data is weighted toward population estimates for cellular and landline telephone use, age, gender, race, and party identification. 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. Details from this survey are available at http://www.highpoint.edu/src/files/2017/02/50memoC.pdf.

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 online include past press releases as well as memos summarizing the findings (including approval ratings) for each poll since 2010.

The HPU Poll reports methodological details in accordance with the standards set out by AAPOR’s Transparency Initiative, and the HPU Survey Research Center is a Charter Member of the Initiative. For more information, see

http://transparency.aapor.org/index.php/transparency.

You can follow the HPU Poll on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HPUSurveyCenter.

Dr. Martin Kifer, associate professor of political science, serves as the director of the HPU Poll, and Brian McDonald serves as the associate director of the HPU Poll.

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