State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Advocates tout statewide poll on education

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Apr 22, 2014 6:33 PM

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

As education groups attempts to keep the pressure on state lawmakers to change school funding policy, they’re touting a statewide poll showing strong support for such a move.

A poll of 800 voters across Pennsylvania found 71 percent of respondents support putting more state funding toward public schools. 72 percent of those surveyed in the early February poll said a funding formula would be better. Education advocates say lawmakers have taken an ad hoc approach to divvying up state dollars among school districts since 2010.

The survey results come as lawmakers consider a plan to create a school funding formula. The state House has passed a plan that would convene a task force for such an effort; the Senate has yet to act on the measure.

“We want to make sure they don’t drop the ball,” said Jim Buckheit, director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, one of the groups that commissioned the poll. “Sometimes there’s lots of talk and then not a lot of delivery, so we want to make sure that whatever happens... it’s done well, and it’s actually implemented and sustained.”

The poll was designed by Terry Madonna Opinion Research and conducted by a firm in Allentown, Pennsylvania. It has an error of margin of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

Questions on education did not mention other items competing for state revenue during budget talks, a point acknowledged by Madonna, but he said responses still show that education is a top priority for voters this year, spanning the ideological spectrum.

“A majority of voters in both parties supported the five initiatives discussed in this survey... a majority of voters in all regions and a majority of both white and nonwhite respondents,” Madonna said. “It’s rare that you find this kind of consensus in a highly political environment.”

From a Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators press release on the poll:

The Terry Madonna Opinion Research Spring 2014 Omnibus Survey findings on education are as follows:

• More than 8 in 10 Pennsylvanians (84%) surveyed said they believe public schools have a “Very Strong” or “Some” effect on economic development;

• Nearly three quarters of Pennsylvanians (71%) surveyed said they believe the state investment in public schools needs to be “Much Larger” or “Somewhat Larger”;

• More than two-thirds of Pennsylvanians (67%) said schools with greater number of students in poverty should “Definitely” or “Probably” receive more state funding;

• Nearly three quarters of Pennsylvanians (72%) said they “Strongly Favor” or “Somewhat Favor” using a school funding formula to ensure fair distribution of funding;

• Nearly three quarters of Pennsylvanians (72%) said “Definitely Yes” or “Probably Yes” to using a school funding formula to ensure fair distribution of state education funding.

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