Poll: Marylanders back spending more on school safety, career education, but less support for pre-K and teacher pay

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By Len Lazarick

Len@MarylandReporter.com

Marylanders support spending more money on school safety and career and technical education, according to a new statewide poll. But they are less enthusiastic about expanding pre-kindergarten or paying teachers more if those initiatives mean higher taxes or reductions in other services.

They also do not believe politicians who say casino revenues will be dedicated solely to education aid, as promised by a constitutional amendment the legislature just put on the November ballot.

Those are some of the results of a new statewide poll of 600 voters by Burton Research and Strategies paid for by Maryland Public Policy Institute, a free-market think-tank.

“The survey findings cast doubt on several sweeping proposals offered by the state’s closely-watched education reform commission, known as the Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in [Education],” said pollster Jim Burton, whose firm has done work for many Republican candidates.

The survey found that 72% of the respondents agreed with the statement: “To improve learning opportunities in public schools, policymakers should refocus on reallocating resources more efficiently and effectively, instead of continuously increasing the education budget.” There was strong agreement with the statement by 42% of respondents.

However, increasing teacher pay and reducing class size top the list when the respondents were asked: “What one or two items from the following list do you think elected officials in the state should address to improve the quality of education in Maryland’s public schools?”

Thirty-eight percent of Marylanders say increasing teacher pay is their first or second choice for improving education in Maryland, while 28 percent say reducing class sizes.  

Broad majorities oppose paying more in income or property taxes to expand pre-K. Voters are against making cuts to roads and transportation (70% total less likely), public safety (70% total less likely), or children’s health insurance (77% total less likely) to afford expansion of pre-k education.

The Kirwan commission has not completed its final recommendations but it did issue a preliminary report in January. Here is a full copy of the report.

The commission has reached consensus on expanding career and technical education, on making pre-kindergarten available to everyone, and on increasing teacher pay, as well as changing teacher training and establishing a career ladder for teachers.

It has not put a price tag on any of its proposals, nor established what they will cost or who should pay. But their recommendations are expected to cost billions more than in current formulas.

“The poll demonstrates that Marylanders believe in providing a great education, but not with a blank check,” said Christopher B. Summers, president and chief executive officer of the Institute. “We encourage policymakers to consider the sentiments expressed in this poll any time they are faced with a new idea to expand government’s presence in the classroom.”

The telephones survey was conducted in early March with respondents contacted by landlines (70%) and cell phones (30%). It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4%.

  • Dale McNamee

    I moved to Maryland in 1986 and would like to know where the $ BILLIONS in property taxes and other funds collected since then went ?

    Obviously not on the school buildings and classrooms…

    • EnoughIsEnough

      Into the rathole of special interests and friends of politicians. This is what happens when one party rules for too long. Governor Hogan is a rare exception but the Dems have veto proof majorities in both houses of the legislature!

      • Dale McNamee

        Because we keep on electing and re-electing Democrats and wonder why…

        • Vidi

          Republicans need to field AND financially support Republican candidates if you expect change or even a stronger and more balanced debate on education. Montgomery County currently has ZERO Republicans either on the County Council or in its delegation to Annapolis.

  • Osceola Renzi

    Len, why did you not give a little more background to the right wing think tank that commissioned the poll, and the guy that conducted the survey , who is also a former state Republican Caucus director and former partner with Public Opinion Strategies, the leading Republican political polling firm.

    Board members include Bob Erlich and Larry Hogan. Many of their staff bios include Heritage Foundation, gun rights, property rights, for profit school loving, anti immigrant, Trump loving hacks.

    Lest there be any question as to their mind set, here are the words spoken this week by board member James Kelso, “Donald Trump is as president exactly the man we cheered in the primaries. He IS our Peace President as part of being the only Real American president in any of our lifetimes.”

    Finally, the body of academic literature is overwhelming and clear. Early childhood education is key! Supporting at risk kids and working families pays huge dividends and pays 10 to 1 return by creating more successful students, future productive citizens and taxpayers.

  • Osceola Renzi

    Len, you do the Maryland Public Policy Institute a disservice by referring to them as ‘free-market think-tank’. They are a full fledged right wing Republican think tank and the survey was conducted by the former director of the state Republican Caucus and former partner with Public Opinion Strategies, the leading Republican political polling firm.

    http://stinktanks.org/maryl

    Board members include Bob Erlich Larry Hogan. Many of their staff bios include Heritage Foundation, gun rights, property rights, for profit school loving, anti immigrant, Trump loving hacks.

    Lest there be any question as to their mind set, here are the words spoken this week by board member James Kelso, “Donald Trump is as president exactly the man we cheered in the primaries. He IS our Peace President as part of being the only Real American president in any of our lifetimes.”

    • lenlazarick

      This is a guilt by association argument that has little to do with the poll itself. What the poll showed is that the public supports many aspects of public education, higher teacher pay, smaller class size, etc. But then they say they don’t want to pay higher taxes or shift money from other services to pay for them. I think Jim Burton’s polling for conservative clients has as much validity, if done properly, as Steve Raabe’s polling for the generally progressive clients of Opinion Works.
      Renzi, whoever that person really is, should stop calling names, and focus on the substance of the poll. Neither Renzi nor the response of the Maryland Family Network dealt with the issue of how much universal pre-K will cost and how it will be paid for.