*To view and download the verbatim responses, please scroll down to the bottom of this blog post.
Colorado Education Issues Survey
Today Magellan Strategies released a survey of 731 registered voters in the state of Colorado. Online interviews were conducted April 22nd – May 1st, 2019 and live phone interviews were conducted May 8th – 9th, 2019. The overall results have a margin of error of +/- 3.54% at the 95 percent confidence interval. The survey data was weighted slightly based upon voter registration demographics.
The focus of this survey was to measure and understand the opinions and viewpoints of Colorado voters on a wide variety of education issues. This includes teacher pay, state-funded full-day kindergarten, the federal government’s role in public education, school choice, school safety and vocational training.
With such a wide-ranging survey, there is a significant amount of data here. That is particularly true for the verbatim responses, only a very small portion of which have been included in the summary. Some of the findings may confirm what you had expected, while other findings might challenge your assumptions. Whatever the case, we encourage your thoughts and feedback as we continue to provide accurate, insightful data on the important public policy issues facing our state.
- When asked about the importance of public education to them personally, 75% of voters answered that it is either very important (38%) or extremely important (37%). Clearly public education is a significant issue for Colorado voters, whether they have a child in the public school system or not.
- Colorado voters are split on the proper role of the federal government in our public education system, as 35% believe the federal government should be less involved while 34% believe that federal government should be more involved.
- A plurality of Colorado voters, 30% believe the most important characteristic for a public school is having strong academic standards, followed by fostering a positive learning environment (19%), hiring quality teachers (17%), and ensuring school safety and security (17%).
- Fifty-eight percent of voters have a favorable opinion of public schools in Colorado. The most common reasons given are a positive personal experience with public schools and quality teachers. The most common reasons given for why voters have an unfavorable opinion of public schools are: a negative personal experience with public schools, lack of funding to the classroom, a negative learning environment for students, a perceived political agenda in the schools, and low standards resulting in students unprepared for life after school.
- Forty-three percent of voters have a favorable opinion of charter schools in Colorado. The most common reasons given are: a positive personal experience with charter schools, higher standards, and a more positive learning environment for students. The most common reasons given for why voters have an unfavorable opinion of charter schools are the perception that they remove resources from public schools and are lacking accountability and diversity.
- When asked if they approve or disapprove of the job their local public schools are doing educating and preparing students for the future, 59% approve and 32% disapprove.
- To measure voters’ perception of school choice in Colorado, the survey asked if parents in Colorado already have the freedom to choose which school their child attends, or if more needs to be done in order to give parents that freedom. The survey found that 47% believe that parents already have school choice, while 40% believe that more needs to be done.
- Regardless whether they are a parent or not, voters were asked which type of school they would choose to provide their child the best education possible. Public school was the top choice at 41%, though the combination of those who chose a private school (28%) or charter school (16%) was slightly higher at 44%. This is significant because there is evidence in the verbatim responses that voters conflate private schools and charter schools. They essentially view them together as distinct from a traditional public school. Home school was the choice for 9% of respondents.
- Voters overwhelmingly believe that students in local school districts are spending too much time preparing for and taking standardized tests, with 67% of voters agreeing with that statement and only 19% disagreeing.
- When asked about funding for public schools in Colorado, 67% of voters think that public schools are underfunded while 20% do not.
- Half of all voters disagree with the statement that school districts in Colorado effectively manage their financial resources and spend taxpayer money wisely, compared to 36% who agree.
- Sixty-one percent of voters support state-funded, full-day kindergarten, regardless of the cost to Colorado taxpayers, including 36% who strongly support the policy.
- Nearly 3 out of 4 voters believe that public school teachers are underpaid in Colorado. The most common reasons given for why voters think public school teachers are underpaid were: the demands/stress of the job, the importance of the job for our future, and teachers struggling to make ends meet because of the cost of living or other expenses. The most common reasons given for why voters do not think public school teachers are underpaid were: they do not work year-round, they have favorable pensions/benefits, and they knew the pay when they entered the profession.
- While only 11% of voters believe that public schools are very safe for students, a large majority of 71% thinks that schools are somewhat safe. It is important to note that these interviews were conducted before the shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch.
- In another broad measurement of voter satisfaction with the public education system, respondents were asked if they agree that the public education system in Colorado is setting up students for success in the future. A majority of 63% agreed with that statement, while only 26% disagreed.
- Voters were asked their impression of how important a college education is today, with an option of very important, somewhat important or not important at all. There was an even split in the responses between somewhat important (45%) and very important (43%).
- There was significant agreement across all voter subgroups on the issue of vocational training. When asked whether they agree that Colorado public high schools should do more to focus on vocational training, an overwhelming majority of 83% of respondents agreed.
- After a brief informative statement on the issue of school vouchers, voters were asked whether they support or oppose a school voucher program. Half of all voters support a school voucher program after the explanation that a school voucher program allows parents to allocate public funding towards their child’s education at a private school of their choice, including religiously affiliated private schools.
We encourage you to download the full summary, toplines, crosstabs and presentation linked above, as well as the verbatim responses linked below, and we hope that the data provided in this survey proves helpful to anyone interested in education issues in Colorado. Our intention here is not to push an ideological agenda, but rather to highlight the truth that the question of how best to educate our children is incredibly complex, and it is a question for which there are no easy fixes or solutions.
Again, with such a wide-ranging survey there is a significant amount of data here. That is particularly true for the verbatim responses. Some of the findings may confirm what you had expected, while other findings might challenge your assumptions. Whatever the case, we encourage your thoughts and feedback as we continue to provide accurate, insightful data on the important public policy issues facing our state.
This phone portion of the survey was conducted by live dialing landline and cell phone sample. The online survey was conducted using the Prodege online panel. The sample used for this survey was randomly drawn from a state of Colorado voter file. The survey response data was weighted slightly on voter registration demographics. The online interviews were conducted April 22th – May 1st, 2019. The phone interviews were conducted May 8th – 9th, 2019. This survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.54% at the 95 percent confidence interval.
Please click the links above to download the full survey summary, toplines, crosstabs and presentation, and the links below to download the verbatim responses.