How Citizens View Education Reform Policies
Over the past 16 months, the Ohio Public School Advocacy Network has generated four in-depth public opinion surveys in 18 counties with a combined population of 3,052,416 (U.S. Census, 2013) citizens in southwest, west central, northwest and northeast Ohio. OPSAN is leading a grass roots initiative to restore local control of Ohio’s public schools by providing citizens with a stronger voice in shaping statewide education policy. In these opinion surveys, school district residents were asked how they view education reform and its impact on their local schools. Below are insights and conclusions included in a newly released report of the findings from the four surveys.
Insights and conclusions
There is a wide gap between the views of many of Ohio’s citizens and a number of statewide education policies that are currently in place. The overwhelming message from four public opinion surveys conducted over the past 16 months in 18 counties in southwest, west central, northwest and northeast Ohio is clear: The vast majority of citizens believe their public schools are doing a good job of preparing children for their future and they want their boards of education to be in control of their local schools. They want less government regulation and fewer government mandates impacting their schools. They are opposed to using their tax dollars to support private schools and for-profit charter schools. And they feel that student test scores should not be used to evaluate their teachers who, in their opinion, are the key to providing public school students with a high quality education.
Below is a detailed look at how citizens in this part of the state feel about public education, their local public schools and some of Ohio’s education policies:
- While citizens are somewhat divided over whether K-12 public education is getting better orgetting worse (54% say getting better or staying the same and 37% say getting worse), two out of three (65%) feel connected to their local public schools and believe their local schools are doing an excellent or good job of preparing children for their future. When asked what letter grade they would give their local school district, nearly two-thirds (63%) say an A or B.
- Increasing government regulation and a loss of local control are viewed by citizens in this part of the state as the single biggest problem facing their local public schools. Eighty-eight per cent believe state regulations and mandates for public schools have increased over the past five years and 64% think policy decisions made at the state level are not in the best interest of students. Two-thirds (67%) oppose more government control of their schools. The bottom line is 81% feel that the Ohio legislature should reduce education mandates and demands and give more control to local school boards.
- When evaluating the quality of a school, having high quality teachers is viewed by nearly half of the citizens (48%) as being most important. One out of four ranks preparing students for college and the workplace as second most important. The vast majority (73%) believe that scores from standardized tests should not be used to evaluate their teachers and more than half (55%) feel that state testing has not helped students.
- Two out of three citizens (66%) do not want their locally approved tax dollars used to support for-profit charter schools and 71% are opposed to using their tax dollars to pay for vouchers to support private schools.
- On January 17-20, 2014, a random sample of 620 registered voters in Lorain County were interviewed by telephone. The margin of error was +/- 3.93%.
- On July 14-17, 2014, a random sample of 500 registered voters in Montgomery County were interviewed by telephone. The margin of error was +/- 4.4%.
- On May 6-8, 2015, a random sample of 801 registered voters in Butler, Clermont. Hamilton and Warren counties were interviewed by telephone. The margin of error was +/- 3.46%.
- In March-April, 2016, a sample of 4,679 citizens from 40 public school districts in Allen, Auglaize, Fulton, Hancock, Hardin, Huron, Logan, Mercer, Putnam, Sandusky, Shelby and Van Wert counties participated in an online opinion survey utilizing Survey Monkey. These districts include Ada Exempted Village, Archbold City, Bath Local Schools, Bellevue City, Celina City, Columbus Grove Local, Coldwater Exempted Village, Cory-Rawson Local, Delphos City, Elida Local, Fairlawn Local, Gibsonburg Local, Hardin Northern Local, Hopewell-Loudon Local, Indian Lake Local, Jennings Local, Kenton Local, Liberty-Benton Local, Lima City, Lincolnview Local, Marion Local, McComb Local, Miller City-New Cleveland Local, Minster Local, New Riegel Local, Ottawa-Glandorf Local, Ottoville Local, Pandora-Gilboa Local, Parkway Local, Ridgemont Local, Riverdale Local, Russia Local, Seneca East Local, Shawnee Local, Spencerville Local, St. Henry Local, St. Marys City, Van Wert City, Wapakoneta City and Waynesville-Goshen Local. The survey’s margin of error was +/- 1.43%.