Education A State Capitals Roundup

Calif. Survey Finds Doubts Over Schools

By Joetta L. Sack — May 03, 2005 2 min read

Californians are increasingly skeptical about the quality of their state’s education system, even after successive governors and other politicians have carried out efforts to improve programs and raise spending, a new survey shows.

The April 2005 report, “PPIC Statewide Survey: Special Survey on Education,” is available online from the Public Policy Institute of California. ()

The percentage of residents who see K-12 education as having large problems has grown to 52 percent, up from 46 percent in 1998, according to the survey results, released April 28 by the Public Policy Institute of California, based in San Francisco.

Eighty-two percent of the more than 2,500 residents surveyed said that the quality of education in public schools was at least “somewhat” of a problem, and 59 percent said public schools did not receive enough money. Residents had more confidence in private and religious schools in the state, according to the poll, conducted last month. The margin of error was 2 percentage points.

“Concern about public education runs deep in California, and the perceived lack of progress ... only serves to heighten residents’ distrust of their government and disappointment in their elected officials,” the institute’s survey director, Mark Baldassare, said in a statement.

The survey also shows a slide in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s approval ratings. About 40 percent of Californians approve, and 50 percent disapprove, of the way he is handling his job overall, according to the ppic. That approval rating is down about 20 percentage points from a ppic poll in early January.

On K-12 education, 51 percent of the respondents disapproved of the governor’s agenda, and 28 percent approved. Mr. Schwarzenegger, a Republican, took office in 2003 after the recall of Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat.

Education Proposals

Gov. Schwarzenegger’s popularity has waned in recent months, in large part, many observers believe, because of his stands on education issues. (“School Groups in ‘Dogfight’ With California Governor,” March 30, 2005.)

At least two of the proposals he backs are expected to be state ballot measures in November.

On those two issues, the ppic survey found that 55 percent of likely voters would favor a plan to increase the time needed before a teacher could earn tenure, and make it easier to dismiss poorly performing teachers and staff members. But only 44 percent would support a plan to make it easier for the governor to suspend the state constitution’s minimum-funding guarantee for schools.