Carolina Issues Poll

Carolina Issues Poll – March, 2011

NC Policy Watch is happy to announce the return of its Carolina Issues Polls. Each month, the staff of NC Policy Watch will work with nationally recognized, Raleigh-based polling firm, Public Policy Polling to sample public opinion on timely issues impacting state policy debates.

This month, the issue is public education and, in particular, charter schools. From March 21 to 23, PPP surveyed nearly 700 registered voters throughout North Carolina regarding their attitudes on some of the high-profile issues currently before the General Assembly – including charter schools, the requirements placed upon them, and governance issues. The poll also gauged the opinions of voters on proposed cuts to education, preservation of current state taxes and the participation of non-public school students on public school athletic teams.

Here are some of the results:

Generally, voters have a favorable impression of charter schools. Moreover, half of those surveyed were not concerned about higher levels of racial segregation in charters.

Q1 Do you have a generally favorable or unfavorable impression of charter schools?

Favorable…………..54%

Unfavorable………..25%

Not sure ……………. 21%

Q2 Do you think it should or should not be a concern if evidence shows that charter schools tend to be more racially segregated than traditional public schools?

Should be a concern…………………………………40%

Should not……………………………………………….50%

Not sure ………………………………………………….10%

On the other hand, voters are also very skeptical of exempting charters from many of the requirements applied to traditional public schools, like the provision of free lunches and transportation, the use of certified teachers and oversight by the state Board of Education.

Q3 As public schools that receive public dollars, do you think that charters should or should not be required to provide free and reduced price lunches like traditional public schools?

They should be required to provide free and reduced price lunches……………………………….52%

They should not be required to…………………..38%

Not sure ………………………………………………….10%

Q4 Do you think that charters should or should not be required to provide transportation to all students who need it like traditional public schools?

They should be required to provide transportation to all students………………………48%

They should not be required to…………………..45%

Not sure ………………………………………………….7%

Q5 Do you think that charters should or should not be required to hire only state certified teachers, principals and administrators like traditional public schools?

They should be required to hire only state certified teachers, principals, and administrators………………………..64%

They should not be required to…………………..28%

Not sure …………………………………………………. 9%

Q6 Do you think North Carolina’s state-funded charters should be governed by the state Board of Education, like all other public schools, or by a separate board that only oversees charters?

Charters should be governed by the state Board of Education…………………………………..55%

They should be governed by a separate board that only oversees charters……………….40%

Not sure ………………………………………………….6%

Voters are also opposed to two other proposals advanced by conservative lawmakers in the General Assembly – allowing home and private school students to participate in public school interscholastic sports and the establishment of a state-funded voucher program for parents who send their children to private schools.

Q7 Do you think that public schools should or should not be required to permit children who are home schooled or who attend private schools to participate on their interscholastic sports teams?

Public schools should be required to permit home schooled or private school attending children to play on their sports teams………….39%

They should not be required to …………………..53%

Not sure …………………………………………………. 9%

Q8 Do you support or oppose the idea of providing taxpayer-funded vouchers or tax credits to parents who wish to send their children to private or religious schools?

Support …………………………………………………..39%

Oppose …………………………………………………..56%

Not sure …………………………………………………. 5%

Finally, voters expressed strong opposition to plans of state legislative leaders to cut K-12 and early childhood education spending and a three-to-one preference for keeping state taxes at current levels rather than cutting education.

Q9 Would you support or oppose keeping state taxes at current levels in order to avoid cuts to public education?

Support …………………………………………………..66%

Oppose …………………………………………………..22%

Not sure …………………………………………………. 12%

Q10 Would you support or oppose laying off some public school teachers and teacher assistants in order to help close the state budget shortfall?

Support …………………………………………………..32%

Oppose …………………………………………………..62%

Not sure …………………………………………………. 5%

Q11 Would you support or oppose keeping state taxes at current levels in order to avoid cuts to early childhood programs like Smart Start and More at Four?

Support …………………………………………………..55%

Oppose …………………………………………………..33%

Not sure ………………………………………………….12%

To read the entire poll, as well as the crosstabs, click here.