Survey Finds Growing Worry Over Calif. School Cuts
Californians are increasingly worried about how state budget cuts are affecting public schools, and they are unhappy with how their political leaders are handling education, according to a survey released late Wednesday.
The Public Policy Institute of California's sixth annual K-12 education survey found that 62 percent of residents believe there isn't enough state funding going to their public schools, a 12 percent increase over last year.
The survey found that 43 percent of public school parents say spending cuts have affected their children's schools a lot — a 15 percent jump — and another 38 percent said their kids' schools have been affected somewhat.
"The poll really indicates the degree of anxiety that the public has about the impact of budget cuts on public education," said Mark Baldassare, the institute's president and CEO. "More Californians are seeing the direct effect of the state's budget problems on children, teachers and the resources in their local schools."
Californians are worried about teacher layoffs, growing class sizes, shortened school years and the elimination of electives such as art and music, according to the survey. And 63 percent want K-12 education protected from further spending cuts.
Despite growing concern about schools, residents are divided over whether to raise taxes to prevent further cuts to K-12 education, with 49 percent in favor and 47 percent against. About 57 percent said they would support a local parcel tax to fund their schools.
The institute reported that only 16 percent approved of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's handling of education, while the Legislature received only a 15 percent approval rating on K-12 schools. About 46 percent support President Obama's handling of K-12 education, a 12 point drop from last year.
The survey found that education was among the Californians' top three concerns — along with the economy and state budget — and 62 percent said the gubernatorial candidates' positions on K-12 schools were very important to them.
"K-12 is going to be a big issue in the next election," Baldassare said. The voters "are going to want the next governor to focus on improving K-12 education."