MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. — Minnesota Campaign for Achievement Now (MinnCAN) released a statewide public opinion poll revealing how Minnesotans think public schools are doing and what education issues matter most to them, at the ballot box and beyond.
Highlights of the findings include:
- Education is a priority, in the election and at the Capitol. Education ranked as one of the top three election issues—along with the economy and health care. School funding, teacher quality, class size and curriculum and standards are all hot topics, each with over 60 percent of respondents saying the issue will influence their support of a candidate.
- Teacher quality is a top issue that cuts across party lines. Having quality teachers was ranked as one of the biggest contributors to kids’ educational success, second only to family involvement. Republicans and Democrats equally support prioritizing educator performance over seniority when making staffing decisions.
- Minnesotans underestimate the achievement gap, and feel it will be hard to close. Minnesotans know that achievement gaps are real, but poll respondents overestimated high school graduation rates for black, Latino and Native American students. Still, only 26.3 percent believe that we can mostly or completely close the gap in ten years.
- Minnesotans generally see value in standardized assessments, but some see room for improvement. For 41.3 percent of Minnesotans, standardized tests are not a major political issue. For those who say that a candidate’s views on testing will impact their vote, nearly 70 percent say that they prefer candidates who support annual statewide tests. Overall, 55.6 percent of Minnesotans are satisfied with the frequency of student tests, saying that we’re testing the right amount, or even not enough, while 28.8 percent of Minnesotans think we’re testing too frequently.
“Minnesotans want great public schools for all children but know that we’re not there yet, and they expect our elected officials to take significant and immediate action to get us there,” said Daniel Sellers, MinnCAN executive director. “The good news is that despite political differences, Minnesotans agree on some critical education issues. We hope this poll’s findings will be a call to action for legislators, encouraging them to also look beyond party lines, and to listen to the priorities and ideas of Minnesotans.”
“This poll confirms that too many Minnesotans lack faith in the ability of children of color to achieve academic excellence and for us to close our state’s nation-trailing achievement gaps,” says Sylvia Bartley, co-chair of the African American Leadership Forum’s Education Workgroup. “The African American Leadership Forum has identified this ‘belief gap’ as one of the root causes for the academic achievement gap.”
Bartley continues, “To help every Minnesota child succeed, we must believe deeply in the potential of every student and learn from schools that are already changing the odds for students of color. We must build off what’s working—like the Harvest Network of Schools, which consistently outperforms state averages—and elect leaders who will take bold action to ensure all students attend excellent public schools, whether district or charter.”
About the poll:
PadillaCRT conducted the 28-question poll online and via telephone between September 11-24, 2014. The 400 respondents were geographically representative of the state of Minnesota, with 54 percent of respondents living in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area, and the remaining 46 percent living in other counties in the state. Respondents represented various ages (18-74), races and political affiliations. The margin of error was +/-4.9 percent.