PPIC poll: voters support higher taxes on the rich for schools

A strong majority of California adults are very concerned" about pending budget cuts to K-12 public schools, according to a new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California released today.

Not surprisingly, the heightened anxiety was expressed strongest - 60 percent - in Democratic strongholds in the Bay Area and Los Angeles. But similar sentiments were also expressed in more conservative areas including the Central Valley, 49 percent; Orange County-San Diego, 55 percent; as well as the Inland Empire, 55 percent.

As a result, 68 percent of all adults polled said they favored raising the top rate of income tax paid by the state's wealthiest residents to maintain current funding for public schools.

"People remain interested in schools being the priority for state spending," said Mark Baldassare, president and CEO of PPIC. "People are very concerned about state budget cuts and public school parents are beginning to notice that state budget cuts are having an impact on their local schools.

"While people are not generally supportive of raising their taxes, this is the one area in which the case can be made to them that there might be reason to do so," Baldassare said.

The poll was based on telephone interviews with 2,504 adults living in California during the two-week period ending April 20. The survey has a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

PPIC has conducted surveys focused on education since 2005 and many results have remained static.

Most Californians said they continue to view the state's public school system as a problem area: 85 percent said they believe the quality of K-12 education is at least somewhat of a problem, with 55 percent calling it a big problem. The poll authors say at least half of Californians have called the quality of K-12 education a big problem since April 2005.

More than half polled also said that the quality of education has gotten worse and only 43 percent said the public schools are doing a good job preparing students for college.

That said, 56 percent said they think that the current level of state funding for their local public schools is inadequate.

Additional findings of interest:

- Sixty-nine percent of all adults polled said that teacher salaries should be very or somewhat closely tied to student achievement.

- Three in four public school parents say their child's school has been affected by state budget cuts; at least half have noticed support staff reductions and program cuts and have been asked to contribute money, time, or supplies.

- Fifty-eight percent of school parents said they have been asked to contribute money, time, or supplies to their child's public school as a result of budget cuts.

- Seventy-seven percent of those surveyed said eliminating class-size reduction money for kindergarten through third grade was a bad idea. But 66 percent said a good, money-saving idea would be to require all children to be at least five years old to enter public school.

To read more visit: http://www.ppic.org

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