Public Opinion Poll: Americans Want to See Cuts to Education Budgets
posted by: Alix | August 07, 2012, 10:01 PM   

According to a new survey conducted by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, many Americans support dramatic changes to how school districts fund staff and programs as the primary solution to budget deficits.

According to the data, 62% of respondents described their local district's current financial situation as "very or somewhat difficult," with 77% of these individuals explaining that they see current budget woes as the new financial reality.

Survey respondents support reductions in spending over increasing taxes to resolve the deficits. Nearly half said that, if their own district were facing a serious budget deficit, the best approach would be "to cut costs by dramatically changing how [the district] does business." A mere 11% of Americans are willing to pay more in taxes to fund school budgets.

The report finds that although not all cuts are equally popular among respondents, the policies with the most support are telling:

  • Shrink the administration. An overwhelming majority (69%) supports "reducing the number of district level administrators to the bare minimum" as a good way to save money because "it means cutting bureaucracy without hurting classrooms."
  • Freeze salaries to save jobs. Nearly six in ten surveyed (58%) say freezing salaries for one year for all district employees is a good way to save money "because the district can avoid laying off people."
  • If teachers must be laid off, base it on their effectiveness, not years of service. Nearly three quarters of respondents (74%) says that those with poor performance should be "laid off first and those with excellent performance protected"; just 18% would have teachers fired based on seniority alone.

Fordham Vice President Michael Petrilli argued that the public is demanding both cuts and better outcomes with little regard for teacher morale. "They want to have their cake and eat it too," he said. "They want to just pay the workers less and have the same services."

When discussing salary freezes as a means to combat shrinking budgets, Petrilli further asserted that the model would not be sustainable. "For a year or two, that kind of thing is doable. If this is a long-term crisis and a change where suddenly our schools forever are going to be operating at a lower financial level, that is not sustainable and will have a negative impact on teacher morale and stability."

Click here to read the full results of the report.

What do you think about the results of the poll? Would shrinking the administration and staff salary freezes make enough of an impact?
Comment below.

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