No matter which candidate is elected president on November 3, 2020, college students have definite ideas about the areas the new administration should focus on early in its term. Seventy percent of respondents in a recent survey of college students rated the economy the highest when asked how much focus the new president should put on a number of issues. It was followed by medical care (60%), education (57%) and alternative sources of energy (52%). Americans put quality education at the top of their priority list and want their elected leaders to do the same. According to a national public opinion poll, education is a hot topic: Americans want their elected leaders to produce results, not rhetoric. They also want leaders who make education funding recession-proof. The poll shows that Americans oppose any cuts to funding for education, even at the cost of deep cuts to other services they consider essential, such as health care, social security, law enforcement, and roads and transportation. When asked to name one or two priorities the government should protect from spending cuts, 53 percent of Americans cite education and schools. That percentage is equal to the combined total of all other responses, including health care (18 percent), law enforcement (8 percent), Social Security (6 percent), and the military (2 percent). . All major demographic categories, including older people, support education funding above any other spending priority. Americans, however, recognize that in the current economic climate there will be little or no new funding for education, especially at the state level. Nearly two-fifths (38 percent) of Americans would choose early childhood education as their first or second option to protect themselves from budget cuts, followed by reduced class sizes (35 percent), teacher training (32 percent) and teacher pay (25 percent). )).
Education ranks second after the economy and employment on the list of the public’s most serious concerns, even beating terrorism and security. Americans believe that quality education for all is a national priority. More than 4 in 5 (85 percent) say that achieving this goal is personally important to them, and more than 9 in 10 (92 percent) Americans say that providing all children with a quality education is an achievable goal , not a chimera. . Americans care about the quality of schools for practical reasons and for their community. They believe that quality public schools build stronger families (24 percent), improve the local economy (20 percent), and reduce crime rates (15 percent). About 42 percent of Americans say their decisions about where to live were influenced by the quality of schools in the community. We have made a national commitment to hold every student and every school accountable for measurable improvements in learning. Today it seems that all political candidates, whether they are running for a city council seat, a seat in the state legislature, or the chance to go to Washington, claim to be candidates for education. But the public has very clear ideas about what candidates in education should do and how elected officials will be held accountable. Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of Americans say that a candidate’s stance on education is one of the most important factors or a very important factor influencing their vote. Even 59 percent of those without school-age children agree. Americans feel much more favorable toward candidates who believe educational decisions are best made by parents, teachers, and principals (88 percent); who understand education problems (87 percent); who will protect education from budget cuts (86 percent); and that they want education to focus on the basics (86 percent). In contrast, Americans are much less likely to favor candidates who suggest visionary programs without first explaining how they intend to fund and implement them (40 percent), support vouchers (39 percent), or favor giving mayors or city councils direct control over schools (38 percent). Americans have surprisingly consistent views on how to improve public education across the country. In each of the last two surveys, nearly a third of the survey participants (29 percent) rated the quality of teachers as the most important factor in improving student learning, with funding equitable between rich and poor schools. as the second most important factor (16 percent). . In this year’s survey, 15 percent of Americans also cite quality early childhood education for all children as an important factor in improving student learning; 12 percent say the size of the class is small and another 12 percent want all children to be able to read in fourth grade. . However, a scant 5 percent believe that using taxpayer money for private school options will improve the quality of education. One of the reasons Americans support quality teaching is that many are teachers or know teachers. Three in 10 Americans (29 percent) are teachers or have close relatives who are current or former teachers. Poll results indicate that this group of “teachers” could be a powerful voting bloc; nearly three-quarters say that a politician’s education platform plays an important role in their voting choices. By comparison, roughly two-thirds of all Americans say that education plays an important role in their voting choices. When it comes to evaluating school performance, voters value information about teacher quality (76 percent) and student literacy (74 percent) highest, followed by information about books and other learning tools ( 74 percent), school budgets (67 percent), comparisons of local schools to other schools in the state (66 percent), and data on school safety (63 percent).
Other survey findings:
– While the college students surveyed rely on a wide range of sources for information about candidates, the most popular by far are television (83% of students) and Internet news sites (73%). However, college students believe that the most reliable source of information is on a political candidate’s own website (26%), followed by television (23%).
– Direct emails (12%) and blogs (10%) were the least used.
– 88% of eligible voters surveyed say they intend to vote in the upcoming presidential election.
The National Public Opinion Poll is based on a poll of 1,050 voting-age Americans. Includes analysis of a base of 800 voters and a sample of 125 registered African American voters and 125 registered Latino voters. It also includes information from three focus groups of Whites, African Americans, and Latinos, with and without children. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percent.