The headline of the WBUR poll reads “Most Massachusetts Voters Would Pay Higher Taxes to Support Local Schools”, but that is not the only finding that makes this poll interesting. The poll also gauged voter attitudes about whether their schools needed to change.
MassINC Polling Group President Steve Koczela, who conducted the poll, said “we found a pretty big appetite for additional changes and additional addressing of the problems that people perceive.” Fifty-three percent of voters classified schools in their own communities as having either “serious problems” or “some problems.” 71% applied that judgment to schools statewide.
This figure mirrors the response of business people to the same question posed in MBAE’s 2016 employer poll on education and workforce. 72% said their schools needed serious or moderate change, while 19% said there were few problems and 7% said schools were functioning well. So, we can see that voters and employers agree on this issue since both polled almost exactly the same on whether schools need to change.
Pages 4 and 5 of the WBUR topline results offer details on additional questions about education. When asked about charter schools, 48% say schools aren’t doing enough to close racial achievement gaps despite 62% attributing these gaps to non-school factors. 46% say schools are not preparing students too well or not well at all for jobs in today’s economy.
The findings from this poll should not be ignored by those making decisions about education initiatives, including whether additional school funding should be linked to changes in how we use those funds and report to the public.