NJ Opinion Polls on Education Reform

I. QUINNIPIAC UNIVERSITY, March 1, 2012. From February 21-27, Quinnipiac surveyed 1,396 registered New Jersey voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.6 percentage points. Below are selected education reform questions. For the entire poll, see here

1. Teachers. Question: Is your opinion of New Jersey’s public school teachers favorable, unfavorable of haven’t you heard enough about them?

Total:

  • Favorable: 57%
  • Unfavorable: 25%
  • Not heard enough: 14%

Independents:

  • Favorable: 56%
  • Unfavorable: 28%
  • Not heard enough: 13%

Have Kids in Public School:

  • Favorable: 60%
  • Unfavorable: 32%
  • Not heard enough: 6%

2. Teachers Union. Question: Is your opinion of the state’s largest teachers union, the New Jersey Education Association, favorable, unfavorable or haven’t you heard enough about it?

Total:

  • Favorable: 31%
  • Unfavorable: 46%
  • Not heard enough: 22%

Independents:

  • Favorable: 27%
  • Unfavorable: 53%
  • Not heard enough: 20%

Have Kids in Public School:

  • Favorable: 25%
  • Unfavorable: 53%
  • Not heard enough: 21%

3. Teachers Union. Question: Generally speaking, do you believe the teachers unions are playing a positive or a negative role in improving New Jersey’s educational system? (From April 2011 poll).

Total:

  • Positive: 39%
  • Negative: 51%

Independents:

  • Positive: 31%
  • Negative: 59%

Have Kids in Public School:

  • Positive: 39%
  • Negative: 54%

4. Merit Pay. Question: Some people say that public school teachers who do an outstanding job should be rewarded with additional pay, so called merit pay. Do you think this is a good idea or a bad idea?

Total:

  • Good idea: 72%
  • Bad idea: 24%

Independents:

  • Good idea: 71%
  • Bad idea: 26%

Have Kids in Public School:

  • Good idea: 79%
  • Bad idea: 19%

5. Tenure. Question: Governor Christie wants to limit teacher tenure. Do you think this is a good idea or a bad idea?

Total:

  • Good idea: 60%
  • Bad idea: 32%

Independents:

  • Good idea: 63%
  • Bad idea: 29%

Have Kids in Public School:

  • Good idea: 68%
  • Bad idea: 25%

6. School Spending. Question: Do you think spending more money is the best way to improve the public schools or don’t you think so? (From April 2011 poll).

Total:

  • Yes: 28%
  • No: 67%

Independents:

  • Yes: 18%
  • No: 76%

Have Kids in Public School:

  • Yes: 27%
  • No: 68% 

II. RUTGERS UNIVERSITY, Eagleton Institute of Politics, March 5, 2011. From February 24-26, Rutgers surveyed 912 New Jersey adults with a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percentage points.  Below are selected education reform questions. For the entire poll, see here

1. Tenure. Question: Currently public school teachers earn tenure after three years of teaching. Once granted tenure a teacher can only be dismissed for just cause and must be given a chance to offer a defense. Do you approve or disapprove of tenure for public school teachers?

Total:

  • Approve: 40%
  • Disapprove: 58%

Independents:

  • Approve: 36%
  • Disapprove: 62%

Public Union Households:

  • Approve: 67%
  • Disapprove: 32%

Non-Union Households:

  • Approve: 34%
  • Disapprove: 64%

2. Teacher Evaluations. Question: The Christie administration is proposing to change how teachers are evaluated.  Evaluations would depend in part on how well students do on statewide tests, as well as on classroom observations, student work and other measures.  Is this a fair or unfair way to evaluate teachers?

Total:

  • Fair: 60%
  • Unfair: 37%

Independents:

  • Fair: 62%
  • Unfair: 36%

Public Union Households:

  • Fair: 36%
  • Unfair: 63%

Non-Union Households:

  • Fair: 66%
  • Unfair: 31%

3. Tie Tenure to Evaluations. Question: Under this proposal, teachers would no longer automatically get tenure, and would risk losing tenure if they receive poor evaluations. Do you approve or disapprove linking tenure to these evaluations?

Total:

  • Approve: 64%
  • Disapprove: 32%

Independents:

  • Approve: 69%
  • Disapprove: 29%

Public Union Households:

  • Approve: 50%
  • Disapprove: 48%

Non-Union Households:

  • Approve: 68%
  • Disapprove: 29%

4. Merit Pay. Question: The administration also proposes to link teacher pay increases to improved student test scores. Some additional consideration would be given for teaching in high-need schools and in subjects where there are teacher shortages. Do you approve or disapprove of this proposal?

Total:

  • Approve: 60%
  • Disapprove: 35%

Independents:

  • Approve: 61%
  • Disapprove: 35%

Public Union Households:

  • Approve: 43%
  • Disapprove: 50%

Non-Union Households:

  • Approve: 65%
  • Disapprove: 32%

III. SKDKNICKERBOCKER & BECK RESEARCH, LLC, July, 2011. From June 27-30, SKDK surveyed 700 likely New Jersey legislative election voters with a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percentage points. Below are selected education reform questions. For inquiries about the entire poll, please contact B4K.

1. Quality of Education. Question: Would you say that public schools in New Jersey/Your Local Community are providing an excellent, good, average, not so good or poor quality education?

New Jersey statewide:

  • Excellent/good: 54%
  • Average: 31%
  • Not so good/poor: 11%

Your Local Community:

  • Excellent/good: 70%
  • Average: 17%
  • Not so good/poor: 9%

2. Teachers. Question: What percentage of teachers in New Jersey’s public school system would you say are effective teachers?

  • 76-100% of teachers: 36%
  • 51-75% of teachers: 33%
  • 0-50% of teachers: 21%

3. Teachers. Question: How much do you think the quality of teachers differs in the New Jersey school system?

  • Very Wide Difference: 27%
  • Somewhat of a Difference: 44%
  • Very Little/No Difference: 20%

4. Teachers. Question: Does teacher quality differ classroom by classroom so that one school can have good and bad teachers, or is teacher quality pretty much the same within each school?

  • Good and Bad Teachers in one school: 74%
  • Teacher Quality the Same: 20%

5. Improve Education. Question: Which of the following is the most important thing that should be done to improve the quality of education?

  • Get bad teachers out of the classroom: 26%
  • Hire/keep good quality teachers: 21%
  • Increase parental involvement: 18%
  • Link teacher pay to student performance: 9%
  • Reduce class size: 8%
  • Increase funding for schools: 7%
  • Improve discipline and safety: 6%

6.  Teachers. Question: Would you rather have a motivated and effective teacher in a classroom or a long-serving teacher with experience?

  • Motivated/effective: 71%
  • Long-serving/experienced: 22%

7. Tenure. Question: Is tenure bad because it encourages a lack of energy and motivation, and protects bad teachers, or is tenure important because it prevents unfair layoffs and favoritism?

  • Tenure bad: 49%
  • Tenure important: 43%

8. Evaluating Teachers. Question: What is the best way to evaluate teachers: students’ positive academic growth or teacher seniority?

  • Students’ academic growth: 77%
  • Teacher seniority: 13%

9. Evaluating Teachers. Question: What is the best way to evaluate teachers: standardized tests, individual student progress and principal assessments or teacher seniority?

  • Student tests/progress/principal assessments: 74%
  • Teacher seniority: 13%

10. Teacher Lay-off Policies. Question: New Jersey law requires that when public teachers are laid off, the layoffs must occur in order of reverse seniority, with the most recently hired teachers being the first laid off. Do you approve or disapprove of this practice?

  • Approve: 31%
  • Disapprove: 65%

11. Teacher Lay-off Policies. Question: Should the current system be changed so that teacher lay-offs are based on merit in order to keep newer, good teachers? Or should the current system based on seniority be kept because it protects teachers against favoritism, nepotism and insider deals, and because there is not a proven way to evaluate teachers based on merit?

  • Change current system: 68%
  • Keep current system: 23%

12. Teacher Lay-off Policies. Question: Do you believe it would be better for students in your public school to leave the last-in/first-out rule the way it is or change it to a merit-based system?

  • Change to merit-based system: 72%
  • Keep current last-in/first-out system: 21% 

IV.  MONMOUTH UNIVERSITY/NJ PRESS MEDIA, August, 2011. From August 3-8, Monmouth/NJPM interviewed 802 New Jersey adults with a margin of error of +/- 3.5%. Below are selected education reform questions. Please see (here) for complete poll.

1. Quality of public schools. Question: In general, how would you rate the job the public schools are doing here in New Jersey?

Total:

  • Excellent: 13%
  • Good: 43%
  • Only Fair: 31%
  • Poor:  10%

Independents:

  • Excellent: 13%
  • Good: 43%
  • Only Fair: 30%
  • Poor:   11%

Teacher Households:

  • Excellent: 23%
  • Good: 57%
  • Only Fair: 11%
  • Poor:  4%

Non-Teacher Households:

  • Excellent: 12%
  • Good: 40%
  • Only Fair: 35%
  • Poor:  11%

Have Child in Public School:

  • Excellent: 14%
  • Good: 44%
  • Fair: 31%
  • Poor:   10%

2. Accountability Measures. Question: Do you think appropriate measures are in place to hold your own local schools accountable for how well they educate students or are better measures needed?

Total:

  • Appropriate measures in place: 29%
  • Better measures needed: 63%

Independents:

  • Appropriate measures in place: 27%
  • Better measures needed: 65%

Teacher Households:

  • Appropriate measures in place: 47%
  • Better measures needed: 47%

Non-Teacher Households:

  • Appropriate measures in place: 26%
  • Better measures needed: 66%

Have Child in Public School:

  • Appropriate measures in place: 25%
  • Better measures needed: 70%

3. Teacher Pay. Question: In your opinion, do you think public school teachers are paid too much, too little or about the right amount?

Total:

  • Too much: 15%
  • Too little: 38%
  • About the right amount: 41%

Independents:

  • Too much: 20%
  • Too little: 32%
  • About the right amount: 42%

Teacher Households:

  • Too much: 7%
  • Too little: 54%
  • About the right amount: 34%

Non-Teacher Households:

  • Too much: 16%
  • Too little: 35%
  • About the right amount: 42%

Have Child in Public School:

  • Too much: 12%
  • Too little: 40%
  • About the right amount: 41%

4. Basis for teacher salaries. Question: Do you think salaries should be: mostly tied to a teacher’s years of experience and formal education or mostly tied to how well their students do and classroom evaluations or a combination of both?

Total:

  • Mostly experience/degree: 13%
  • Both, but experience/degree more important: 5%
  • Both equally: 47%
  • Both, but performance more important: 13%
  • Performance more important: 19%

Independents:

  • Mostly experience/degree: 11%
  • Both, but experience/degree more important: 6%
  • Both equally: 49%
  • Both, but performance more important: 13%
  • Performance more important: 18%

Teacher Households:

  • Mostly experience/degree: 23%
  • Both, but experience/degree more important: 7%
  • Both equally: 41%
  • Both, but performance more important: 10%
  • Performance more important: 12%

Non-Teacher Households:

  • Mostly experience/degree: 11%
  • Both, but experience/degree more important: 5%
  • Both equally: 48%
  • Both, but performance more important:  13%
  • Performance more important: 20%

Have Child in Public School:

  • Mostly experience/degree: 9%
  • Both, but experience/degree more important: 7%
  • Both equally: 52%
  • Both, but performance more important: 8%
  • Performance more important: 21%

5. Tenure. Question: After working in a public school for three years, a teacher is either given tenure or let go. A teacher who gets tenure after this trial period is basically given a permanent job unless he/she engages in serious misconduct? Do you approve or disapprove of giving schoolteachers tenure?

Total:

  • Approve: 42%
  • Disapprove: 52%

Independents:

  • Approve: 40%
  • Disapprove: 54%

Teacher Households:

  • Approve: 57%
  • Disapprove: 38%

Non-Teacher Households:

  • Approve: 40%
  • Disapprove: 54%

Have Child in Public School:

  • Approve: 45%
  • Disapprove: 48%

6. Tenure. Question: One proposal currently being discussed would grant teachers limited tenure, which means they would be evaluated regularly even after getting tenure. If they fail an evaluation, they would be given up to three years to improve and regain their tenure. However, they could also be fired during this time if they do not improve. Do you approve or disapprove of this proposal?

Total:

  • Approve: 77%
  • Disapprove: 18%

Independents:

  • Approve: 76%
  • Disapprove: 20%

Teacher Households:

  • Approve: 71%
  • Disapprove: 23%

Non-Teacher Households:

  • Approve: 79%
  • Disapprove: 17%

Have Child in Public School:

  • Approve: 82%
  • Disapprove: 14%

7. Standardized tests. Question: What kind of job do you think standardized tests used in New Jersey schools do at accurately measuring students abilities?

Total:

  • Excellent: 6%
  • Good: 29%
  • Only Fair: 39%
  • Poor: 20%

Independents:

  • Excellent: 5%
  • Good: 27%
  • Only Fair: 42%
  • Poor:  20%

Teacher Households:

  • Excellent: 3%
  • Good: 17%
  • Only Fair: 50%
  • Poor: 24%

Non-Teacher Households:

  • Excellent: 6%
  • Good: 31%
  • Only Fair: 38%
  • Poor: 19%

Have Child in Public School:

  • Excellent: 4%
  • Good: 32%
  • Fair: 38%
  • Poor:  25%

8. Standardized tests. Question: What kind of job do you think standardized tests used in New Jersey schools do at accurately measuring the job teachers are doing?

Total:

  • Excellent: 4%
  • Good: 27%
  • Only Fair: 41%
  • Poor: 21%

Independents:

  • Excellent: 5%
  • Good: 25%
  • Only Fair: 40%
  • Poor:  23%

Teacher Households:

  • Excellent: 2%
  • Good: 19%
  • Only Fair: 44%
  • Poor: 29%

Non-Teacher Households:

  • Excellent: 4%
  • Good: 28%
  • Only Fair: 40%
  • Poor: 20%

Have Child in Public School:

  • Excellent: 3%
  • Good: 28%
  • Fair: 42%
  • Poor:  23%

 V.  KEAN UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR HISTORY, POLITICS AND POLICY, August, 2011. From August 29-30, Kean interviewed 1,000 New Jersey likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 3%. Below are selected education reform questions. Please see the September 7, 2011 Newark Star-Ledger for the complete poll.

1. Quality of public schools. Question: How satisfied are you with the quality of your local public school or school district?

Total:

  • Very satisfied: 32%
  • Somewhat satisfied: 38%
  • Not very satisfied: 17%
  • Not at all satisfied: 6%

2. Merit Pay. Question: Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree that teachers should be given pay raises based on merit rather than contractual increases ?

Total:

  • Strongly agree: 51%
  • Somewhat agree: 24%
  • Somewhat disagree: 12%
  • Strongly disagree: 9%