Center for the Future of Arizona (CFA) today released its education findings from the newly launched Arizona Voters’ Agenda, which identifies what likely voters in the general election want candidates to address as they campaign for their votes. The results on education demonstrate overwhelming support from voters across all political parties and age groups on important education issues, including increasing education funding, expanding secondary education opportunities, and improving education outcomes.
“The Arizona Voters’ Agenda is a data-driven look at what likely Arizona voters care about and the policies and values upon which voters from every partisan segment and age group agree,” explained Dr. Sybil Francis, President & CEO of CFA. “There is no better place to start than in education, which is essential to our long-term success and which was at the top of CFA’s Gallup Arizona Survey in 2020. We found several education topics that voters care deeply about and others they don’t. Voters want candidates for office to share their positions and plans on these priority issues when making their decision about whom to support with their vote.”
The top education issue on the Arizona Voters’ Agenda, is “Ensuring that Arizona schools have quality teachers and principals,” a topic that is supported by 97% of likely voters, including 96% among Republicans, 95% independents/unaffiliated, and 98% Democrats. This was also the top education finding from CFA’s report on the Gallup Arizona Survey in 2020.
In addition, 72% of voters strongly support “Increasing teacher pay,” which rises to 88% including those who somewhat support it. This includes 80% of Republicans, 90% of independents/unaffiliated, and 98% of Democrats. And 65% strongly support the broader concept of “Increasing funding for K-12 public education,” with another 17% somewhat supporting it. This includes 69% of Republicans, 90% of independents/unaffiliated, and 97% of Democrats.
“Voters continue to believe that schools are underfunded and teachers are underpaid,” said Dr. Francis. “Public education has been in the spotlight over the past few months – often in a negative context. It’s important to note that super-majorities of voters – Republicans included – want to invest in quality education.”
To be included on the Arizona Voters’ Agenda, a majority of all likely voters must “strongly support” the issue, and majorities of every political and age segment must “strongly or somewhat” support the issue. This ensures the Agenda reflects the support that cuts across age and party lines, making the topics essential to the Primary and General Elections.
Voters also expressed strong support for public education efforts in post-secondary education and career training to help our future workforce. In fact, 78% of likely voters strongly support a policy priority of “Expanding career and technical education opportunities,” as well as a sizable 69% who strongly support “Increasing the number of Arizona students who pursue and complete education or training beyond high school (including university, community college or technical/trade school).” The Arizona Voters’ Agenda also revealed strong support for “Reducing financial barriers for students going to college” among 58% of likely voters. This rises to 80% including those who somewhat support it.
It is clear that education and the economy are further intertwined in the mind of the likely voters, with 61% strong agreement with the value statement, “Closing achievement gaps among our students is important to ensuring our state can produce the skilled workforce necessary for a strong economic future for Arizona.”
Dr. Francis stated, “These findings reiterate our belief that Arizonans want a world-class education for all and to have rewarding jobs that use all our talents and help our economy thrive. Candidates can and should speak to these priorities on which Arizonans agree – not only because likely voters care about them, but they are also vital to our long-term quality of life.”
The Arizona Voters’ Agenda, demonstrates that there is also significant voter support for Arizona’s underserved and youngest students. Fifty-eight percent of voters strongly support “Closing gaps in educational outcomes for vulnerable populations, including low-income, those with disabilities, and English language learners,” and a solid majority (52%) are firmly in favor of “Increasing access and affordability of early learning for three and 4-year-olds.”
These policy goals are rooted in the notion that 97% of voters agree that “Every school should have the resources necessary to deliver quality education that prepares every child for the future, no matter their skin color, background, or zip code.”
The Arizona Voters’ Agenda survey covered a wide array of issues and topics, and it’s important to note that some did not make the list of priorities for Arizonans. Most notably, given its attention in political rhetoric and media coverage in recent months, opposing the teaching of critical race theory and controversial topics is not a priority for voters. When asked whether they support or oppose the statement, “Opposing the teaching of Critical Race Theory, reducing access to certain books, and preventing other controversial topics in the classroom,” only 33% of all likely voters strongly supported the statement and 7% somewhat supported it. On the other hand, a 55% majority of likely voters opposed the statement.
“The narrative of polarization dominates our political life, impacting how we see ourselves. We need to work our way out of disillusionment with our politics and work together to achieve the prosperity Arizonans want for our state and its people,” concluded Dr. Francis. “A failure to center the voices of Arizona voters and their preferences in our political dialogue and election campaigns is a missed opportunity to further our democracy. We need to see better alignment between the priorities of Arizona voters and their electoral choices. The broad agreement we see across parties and age demographics on the issues important to the future of our state like education need to be reflected in our politics.”
When it comes to education, the Arizona Voters’ Agenda points to essential questions for moderators, citizens, voters, and others to ask candidates as they are competing for votes. Begin with at least one big question based on the data showing where Arizonans have the strongest agreement: “What is your plan to ensure that Arizona students have quality teachers and principals?”
About the Arizona Voters’ Agenda
CFA is focused on bringing Arizonans together around a positive agenda based on where they agree on priorities to move the state forward and realize The Arizona We Want. The Arizona Voters’ Agenda was launched as an extension of CFA’s survey research efforts to identify and create The Arizona We Want.
CFA has analyzed the statewide survey data to determine which issues make the cut for the Arizona Voters’ Agenda based on:
- a primary threshold, the number of likely voters that “strongly agree/support” is 50% and above,
- and a second threshold of the sum of “somewhat agree/support” and “strongly agree/support” (i.e., Total Support/Agree) is 50% and above among every political party (Republican, Independent/Undecided/Other, and Democrat) and age group (20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-64, 65+).
|The Arizona Voters’ Agenda – Education|
|Policy Items||Strongly Support||Total Support|
|Ensuring that Arizona schools have quality teachers and principals.||89%||97%|
|Expanding career and technical education opportunities.||78%||97%|
|Increasing teacher pay.||72%||88%|
|Increasing the number of Arizona students who pursue and complete education or training beyond high school (including university, community college, or technical/trade school).||70%||94%|
|Increasing funding for K-12 public education.||65%||82%|
|Reducing financial barriers for students going to college.||58%||80%|
|Closing gaps in educational outcomes for vulnerable populations, including low-income, those with disabilities, and English language learners.||58%||83%|
|Increasing access and affordability of early learning for three and four-year-olds.||52%||78%|
|Value Statements||Strongly Agree||Total Agree|
|Every school should have the resources necessary to deliver quality education that prepares every child for the future, no matter their skin color, background, or zip code.||88%||97%|
|Closing achievement gaps among our students is important to ensuring our state can produce the skilled workforce necessary for a strong economic future for Arizona.||61%||86%|
Political and age group breakdowns are available at ArizonaFuture.org/ArizonaVotersAgenda.
About the Survey
The N=500 survey was conducted among likely voters from April 12 through 19, 2022. The poll surveyed likely Arizona 2022 General Election voters who have a history of electoral participation and was balanced to model the likely turnout of voters across party, age, region, and gender. The live interview survey of voters was conducted in English and Spanish by HighGround Public Affairs to landline and cell phone users. Based on previous midterm election trends, the partisan advantage was set at +8% GOP. The margin of error is ±4.3%.
The Arizona Voters’ Agenda initiative is sponsored in part by the Arizona Community Foundation, Helios Education Foundation, Pharos Foundation, Thomas R. Brown Family Foundation, and Southern Arizona Leadership Council. CFA also coordinated with Education Forward Arizona (EFA), which conducted a follow-on survey to gain deeper insights into the priorities of likely Arizona voters on education, recognizing education is consistently one of the top issues for Arizonans. The findings will be released on June 14. Learn more at educationforwardarizona.org.
About Center for the Future of Arizona
Center for the Future of Arizona (CFA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that brings Arizonans together to create a stronger and brighter future for our state. All of CFA’s work is to ensure that the public values Arizonans share are realized for all by shaping and advancing The Arizona We Want–a shared vision of success where all Arizonans, now and in the future, thrive and enjoy sustained prosperity, unmatched quality of life, and real opportunity. Learn more at arizonafuture.org.