More Than Three in Four U.S. Voters Want Next President To Prioritize Education, New Survey Finds

Americans Are Concerned, Willing to Pay More Taxes to Support K-12 Education

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 21, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- American voters recognize that the U.S. is falling behind other countries when it comes to education and want their political leaders to make education a higher priority, according to a national opinion survey released today by The Center for the Next Generation.

The Center for the Next Generation's "Survey of American Voters' Attitudes on Education and Global Competitiveness" found pessimism about the state of U.S. education. Despite giving leaders low marks on education, voters say restoring America's leadership in education and increasing investments in education should be a top priority for the next President, the next Congress, and their states' governors. Emphasizing voters' pessimism about America's education landscape, a majority of voters (52 percent) think that the next Bill Gates will come from another country and 47 percent think the scientist who cures cancer will come from another country.

A strong majority of voters across party lines say they would be willing to pay more in taxes and reduce spending in other areas if the funds were dedicated to K-12 education programs. Voters' willingness to personally pay more comes from a strong belief that the U.S. should be a world leader in education and that it is critical that the U.S. keep up with other countries.

"In a country renowned for its science and technology prowess, it is telling so many Americans think the next Bill Gates or the person driving the next cancer breakthrough won't come from the U.S." said Matt James, President of The Center for the Next Generation. "But that doesn't mean they've given up. Voters want our political leaders to invest in education to ensure we properly educate and prepare the Next Generation to be successful in today's global economy."

Key findings from the nationwide survey of voters include:

  • A 46 percent plurality of voters believe that the U.S. is behind other countries with growing economies - like China and India - when it comes to providing programs to help children get ahead. 
  • More than three in four voters (78 percent) say that restoring America's leadership and increasing investments in education should be a top or high priority for the next President.  For their state's Governor, 77 percent say it should be a top or high priority, and 72 percent want Congress to make this a top or high priority.
  • By more than 2 to 1, voters say they are very or somewhat willing to pay more in taxes if the funds are dedicated to K-12 education programs, including 81 percent of Democrats, 59 percent of independents, and 57 percent of Republican voters.  Similarly, voters by a 2 to 1 margin say they are very or somewhat willing to pay more in taxes AND reduce spending in other areas if the funds are dedicated to K through 12 education programs.
  • An overwhelming 72 percent majority of voters strongly agree that the U.S. should be a world leader in education (rate 10 - strongly agree, on a 1-10 scale).  Similarly, 68 percent of voters strongly agree that while we want other countries to be educating their workforce, it is critical that the U.S. keep up. Fifty-three percent of voters strongly agree that we need to increase investment in our education system so that children will have the best opportunities for educational success (rate 10 - strongly agree, on a 1-10 scale). 
  • Just four percent of voters would give their leaders in Congress a gold medal for their job performance on education, 11 percent would give them a silver medal, and 28 percent would give them a bronze.  A 45 percent plurality of voters said leaders on Congress would fail to qualify for a medal (and six percent volunteered they wouldn't even let them compete).
  • Just over one third of voters think the next Bill Gates will come from the U.S. (35 percent), while 52 percent say he or she will come from another country;
  • Less than one-third of voters think that the scientist who cures cancer will come from the U.S. (31 percent), while 47 percent say he or she will come from another country;

To view the poll, visit: www.tcng.org/competition-that-matters

The survey was released in conjunction with a Center for the Next Generation and Center for American Progress joint report, "The Competition that Really Matters: Comparing U.S., Chinese and Indian Investments in the Next Generation Workforce," which finds that China, India and several European countries have made it a national priority to dramatically improve educational outcomes of their students while the U.S. has been far less ambitious.

The report finds that in an era when the Next Generation will be expected to compete for jobs in a global economy, America's commitment to education is waning while the growing economies of China and India are investing more than ever. The study underscores how America's global competitiveness is being threatened by a lack of focus on preparing our Next Generation for what is an increasingly global market for jobs, industries and economic sectors.

To view the report, visit: www.tcng.org/competition-that-matters

Poll Methodology
"The Center for the Next Generation Survey of American Voters Attitudes on Education and Global Competitiveness" was jointly designed and analyzed by The Center for the Next Generation, Lake Research Partners and Chesapeake Beach Consulting.  The nationwide survey of 1,227 registered likely 2012 General Election voters was administered by Lake Research Partners and Chesapeake Beach Consulting.  Survey participants were interviewed by telephone by professional interviewers between July 23rd and July 29th, 2012.  Telephone numbers were generated at random from a file of registered voters.  The data was weighted slightly by gender, age, race, and region to reflect the attributes of the electorate.  The margin of error for the survey is +/- 2.8% within a 95% confidence level.

About The Center for the Next Generation
The Center for the Next Generation works to shape national dialogue around two major challenges that affect the prospects of America's Next Generation—advancing a sustainable energy future and improving opportunities for children and families. As a nonpartisan organization, the Center generates original strategies that advance these goals through research, policy development and strategic communications. In our home state of California, the Center works to create ground-tested solutions that demonstrate success to the rest of the nation.

SOURCE The Center for the Next Generation



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