Poll: Arizonans value education, critical of system
Many in state say schools don't prepare kids for college, workforce
Arizonans believe education is a critical, but that public schools are failing to prepare students for college or the workplace, according to a statewide poll released Tuesday.
Education was ranked among the top three issues that need to be addressed by the governor and state Legislature, 20 percent of the respondents of the Merrill/Morrison Institute poll said. That was just behind immigration at 24 percent, and jobs at 22 percent.
The Morrison Institute for Public Policy, a nonpartisan think tank at Arizona State University, found that Arizonans support education, but are critical of the current system.
Of the 600 Arizonans polled, 45 percent said they believe public schools are doing a good or excellent job at preparing students for college, while 41 percent said schools are doing a poor or very poor job.
When asked how they would rank the schools in preparing students for the workforce after high school, just 36 percent said the schools are doing and excellent or good job.
Respondents also weighed in on early-childhood education programs with 89 percent saying they are very important or important. Only 6 percent believe the programs are not important, the poll found.
The poll also found that two-thirds of Arizonans believe academic performance expectations are not high enough. Six percent said expectations are too high and 20 percent say expectations are about right.
In addition, nearly two-thirds of Arizonans — 64 percent— believe schools are
not putting enough emphasis on vocational education, and 60 percent said there is not enough emphasis on math and science, according to the poll’s findings.
“The high level of concern that Arizonans have about the quality of our education system demonstrates that people understand that we must improve public education in order for Arizona to realize its potential,” said poll director Bruce Merrill, a senior fellow at Morrison Institute for Public Policy, in a press release.
“Education directly affects our potential for economic development and general quality of life. The poll indicates that people understand the importance of giving students the training they will need to compete in a high-tech economic society. It also indicates that we need to put more emphasis on vocational education,” Merrill said.
As the Legislature prepares to go into session in January, these opinions from Arizonans regarding public education warrant some attention, David Daugherty, director of research at Morrison Institute for Public Policy, said in the release.
“The Legislature, in its attempts to balance the budget, has cut deeply into education funding while refusing to raise taxes to generate additional revenue. Clearly, in listening to the voice of the citizens in this research, it is incumbent upon legislators to find ways to repair the damage to the public education system and to begin improving it at numerous levels,” Daugherty said.
The statewide survey of heads of households was conducted Oct. 4 to Oct. 11. Fifty-nine percent of the 600 telephone interviews were conducted in Maricopa County, 17 percent in Pima County and 24 percent in Arizona’s other counties.
The margin of error for the statewide sample survey is plus or minus 4 percent.