New Poll Shows Voters Seek New Investments, Bold Changes in Schools

Press Releases

October 7, 2019

 New Poll Shows Voters Seek New Investments, Bold Changes in Schools Poll findings provide a roadmap for 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to address equity issues in K-12 and higher education NEW YORK, NY – A new poll released today by Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) finds that voters across the political spectrum back more funding to improve public schools – but believe money alone isn’t enough to give America’s kids the education they deserve. The findings show there’s a clear opening for 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to address issues of K-12 equity. The poll found strong backing by voters for fairer school funding models, more public choice school options and support for paying teachers more where they are needed most. The education legacy of President Barack Obama continues to be viewed favorably, with 61% of Democratic voters saying they agree with his policies designed to “promote innovation and choice in public schools and raise standards for every student.” More broadly, 57% of all voters also said the country needs to provide more funding for public schools, but also bring in “new ideas and make real changes to how schools operate.” “It’s no secret that our public schools need to be better funded, but that’s just the beginning of the story. The public sees that we need to more fairly fund underserved schools and pay teachers more who teach hard-to-staff subjects and serve in high-need schools,” said Shavar Jeffries, president of DFER. “The poll findings are a call to action to continue the work started by President Obama and find ways to make our schools more equitable.” On the higher education front, voters from both parties showed support for policies designed to make the higher education system more affordable and accountable. For example, 78% of voters said they would back a proposal to give additional federal funding to colleges that are doing a good job enrolling low-income students and students of color and preparing them with the knowledge and skills they need to graduate and find a job. The poll findings can be found here. DFER partner organization Education Reform Now Advocacy commissioned Benenson Strategy Group to conduct the survey, which is part of a multi-year polling effort. Additional Key Findings include:
  • Seventy-four percent of all voters – including 8 in 10 Democratic primary voters – said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who called for making schools more fairly funded.
  • Seventy-two percent of all voters said teacher pay needs to be increased and extra pay and incentives should be available to recruit teachers in hard-to-staff subjects and high-needed schools.
  • Eight in 10 voters said they support expanding public choice options.
  • Just 44% of all voters – and 51% of Democratic primary voters – said they support putting a moratorium in place that would ban all federal funding for new charter schools.
  • Eighty-five percent of voters said they would support a program with tough accountability rules that cuts off federal aid and new student loans to schools if they ‘rip off’ their students or act as a “drop-out factory” that graduates few students.