New Nationwide Poll Shows American Voters Want Less Education Bureaucracy--And More Flexibility For Teachers, Principals

NEW YORK, April 30, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- A new nationwide poll shows that an overwhelming majority of U.S. voters––81%––believes the quality of public education would greatly improve if school system bureaucracy was cut down and teachers and principals were given more flexibility to do their jobs.

Analysis of the survey's findings shows that 84% of Republicans, 81% of independents and 78% of Democrats want less bureaucracy and more flexibility for teachers and principals. Additionally, 82% of voters polled said that "major changes" are needed in our public education system so America can "successfully compete with other countries."

The survey was conducted by the nonpartisan Clarus Research Group last week and was sponsored by Common Good, a nonpartisan government reform coalition.

Other findings of the poll:

  • By nearly a 5-to-1 margin (47% to 10%), voters believe giving principals more authority to make decisions would improve, not lower, the quality of schools. Less than a third of respondents polled––32%––think giving principals more authority would not have any effect on school quality.
  • 65% of voters believe lack of classroom discipline is a "big" problem in public schools, while 25% said it is a "small" problem and only 3% said it's no problem.
  • 78% of the nation's electorate thinks "fear of being subjected to a long, complicated legal process is causing teachers and principals not to discipline disruptive students." Of that 78%, 42% said fear of red tape is hindering classroom discipline "most of the time" and 36% said "some of the time." Only 12% said it is "rarely" happening, and 1% said it never happens.
  • Voters think disputes involving teachers and student discipline should be resolved by committees of teachers and parents who were not involved. A 53% majority of survey respondents chose this method for this type of internal conflict resolution. Trailing that choice was having the school principal decide (23%) these matters, having the local school board decide (13%) and having a court of law decide (5%).
  • On the issue of school budget discretion and allocations to special education programs, more voters than not (48% vs. 43%) agree with the statement: "To achieve the right balance between educational services for special needs students and education services for all students, school principals should have the discretion to set their own budget priorities, even if it means adjusting the amount of money spent on special education programs."

"This data demonstrates that voters across the nation, regardless of party, believe education needs big change," said Philip K. Howard, Founder and Chair of Common Good. "It also indicates that voters want principals and teachers to have more authority and flexibility to run their own schools and classrooms­­––free of unwise, often nonsensical, bureaucratic mandates."

The nationwide survey was conducted April 25-26, 2012 by Clarus Research Group, a polling firm based in Washington, DC. The survey's sample of 1,000 self-identified registered voters has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent. Interviewing was conducted through live telephone calls, using both landline and cell calling. For verification of the results, contact Dr. Ron Faucheux, President of Clarus Research Group, at rfaucheux@ClarusRG.com.

Education reform has been the topic for April of an online discussion series, titled America the Fixable, hosted by TheAtlantic.com in partnership with Common Good. The series brings together prominent leaders from both major political parties, as well as other leading experts, to discuss how to fix broken government. The essays contributed by those leaders and experts are also archived at America the Fixable.

Common Good (www.commongood.org) is a nonpartisan government reform coalition dedicated to restoring common sense to America. The Chair of Common Good is Philip K. Howard, a lawyer and author of Life Without Lawyers and The Death of Common Sense.

SOURCE Common Good



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