Poll shows deep support for public education and educators

Poll shows deep support for public education and educators

Newly released polling data shows that Massachusetts residents strongly support systemic changes to reimagine public education in Massachusetts, from prekindergarten through higher education – and that they overwhelmingly understand the need for the state to increase funding for our public schools and colleges.

The survey, conducted for the Massachusetts Teachers Association, also pointed to strong support for educators and their unions and the role they have played in fighting to ensure public health and safety since the coronavirus emergency began more than a year ago.

Public education after the pandemic: A survey of Massachusetts residents

“This is truly encouraging news for educators,” said MTA President Merrie Najimy. “They have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic to address the structures of racism, such as the chronic underfunding built into our public education system, that lead to racial and economic inequities. The general public throughout the state clearly recognizes that.

“The time is now to make fundamental changes to dismantle systemic racism and bring education justice to students, communities and our Commonwealth,” she continued. “There is no appetite for going back to the ‘old normal,’ and the deep research we are releasing today proves that the public supports a reimagined public education system.”

Najimy noted that the survey results show wide support for “a system that deeply and meaningfully supports our students from prekindergarten through college and allows them to graduate without debt.”

“That is what the MTA is calling for, including full funding of the Student Opportunity Act and passage of the Cherish Act,” she said.

The poll of 600 Massachusetts residents 18 and older was conducted by Echo Cove Research & Consulting from March 26 to April 5. Intensive analysis of the findings has been underway since then by the firm’s principal, Richard Schreuer. The findings are being shared with legislators during a briefing today.

The results indicate strong support for preK-through-12 education that focuses on the whole child – and for canceling the MCAS exams this spring.

The results indicate strong support for preK-through-12 education that focuses on the whole child – and for canceling the MCAS exams this spring. Moving into the coming school year, the poll shows overwhelming support for programs that address students’ social and emotional needs as well as their academic ones over programs that narrowly focus on perceived “learning loss.”

Two-thirds of survey respondents agreed that coming out of the pandemic is a time to reimagine public education. In addition, there is broad recognition that communities of color and lower-income communities have suffered greatly during the COVID-19 pandemic and will need substantial help to recover.

These findings align with support not only for the Student Opportunity Act and the Cherish Act, but also for the Fair Share Amendment, which is expected to be on the statewide ballot in 2022. All are mechanisms that would help increase funding for public education, taking into account the need to address decades of inequity and austerity budgeting.

The poll respondents strongly supported increases in state funding for public higher education to address the burden of student debt and to ensure sustained quality and adequate staffing for Massachusetts’ public colleges and universities.

“There is a clear desire to protect and advance the broad mission of public higher education,” said MTA Vice President Max Page. “Massachusetts residents value the civic and social benefits of higher education as well as those that directly address the development of skills for specific careers.”