Education remains the number one issue among Arizona voters for the sixth consecutive year, according to a recent Expect More Arizona poll of 600 likely voters.
Education issues (28%) topped Healthcare (18%) and Jobs/Economy (16%) as the top issue facing our state, even among those respondents without children under 18 living at home. The same question in last year’s poll saw Education (42%) top Border Issues/Illegal Immigration (25%) and Healthcare (10%).
“Healthcare and economic concerns have understandably been heightened as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis,” says Ron Butler, chair of the board of Expect More Arizona.
“The continued prioritization of education issues indicates an understanding among voters of the devastating impacts this pandemic has had on students and educators,” says Butler.
When asked specifically to identify the top issue facing education in Arizona, a general lack of funding for schools topped the list (26%), followed by teacher pay and support for teachers (17%). And, not surprisingly, voters have a lot of concerns related to remote learning and a desire to get students back into classrooms (16%).
Voters agree that the opportunity gaps some students face outside of school often impact their success in the classroom.
Knowing that the changes to education delivery over the last nine months have disproportionately impacted some students more than others, Arizonans appreciate the urgency in closing these gaps.
“Voters recognize that a strong economic future isn’t possible without having difficult conversations about what it will take to close persistent opportunity gaps,” says Butler.
Underscoring the continued need for additional resources in education, 66% of voters surveyed believe K-12 funding in the state is too low. Only 29% of voters surveyed agree that schools will have enough funding as a result of Proposition 208 (the Invest in Education Act).
Further, a significant majority of voters believe the salaries teachers receive in Arizona is too low. This support is evident across party lines.
Asked what they would do if they had additional money to spend on education in Arizona, voters again prioritized increasing pay for teachers (28%). Increasing funding to improve lower performing schools (16%) and funding for student support services (15%) rounded out the top three. Voters also overwhelmingly agree that access to quality early learning opportunities set a child up for future success in school.
“These poll results shouldn’t surprise anyone,” according to Christine M. Thompson, president and CEO of Expect More Arizona.
“Arizona voters recognize the daunting challenges facing our students and education systems – from quality early learning through higher education. While voters agree that parent, family and community engagement in schools is essential to the success of our students, they are also sending a clear message that meaningful investments are just as critical.”