New poll shows how public would slim down spending on education
This morning a new Task Force on Education Funding convened at Highline Community College in Washington state. Their job is to find $1.6 billion of cuts from state government to spend instead on all-day kindergarten for all, reduced class sizes in K-3, and other new education spending programs. Four state senators, four representatives and three appointees of the Governor, including the president of the state teacher’s union, are serving on the Task Force.
Meanwhile, others are worrying whether revenue growth will support existing spending levels on public education, which in Washington state are at an all-time high. Yesterday, the Fordham Foundation released a new poll showing that nearly half of Americans, 48 percent, said they would want their school district "to cut costs by dramatically changing how (they) do business" if the district was facing a substantial budget deficit. Only 26 percent said they would want to wait for things to get better, while 11 percent they would want to raise taxes.
What policies had the most public support?
- Shrink the administration. A broad majority (69 percent) supports “reducing the number of district level administrators to the bare minimum” as a good way to save money because “it means cutting bureaucracy without hurting classrooms.”
- Freeze salaries to save jobs. Nearly six in ten (58 percent) say freezing salaries for one year for all district employees is a good way to save money “because the district can avoid laying off people.”
- If teachers must be laid off, base it on their effectiveness, not years of service. About three in four (74 percent) say that those with poor performance should be “laid off first and those with excellent performance protected”; only 18 percent would have “newcomers laid off first and veteran teachers protected.”
A large majority (73 percent) favors the option of having high-performing educators teach larger classes.
More than half said they would support moving teachers away from a classic pension plan and into something similar to an individual 401(K).
The authors of the poll wrote:
"We found Americans willing, for the most part, to grapple with such challenges and oftentimes to support difficult reductions. The public is open to different ways of doing things, willing to change business as usual in order to cut costs and save money."