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Poll indicates North Carolinians think public education going in wrong direction

For a second year, a High Point University survey of North Carolina residents shows that more than half (54 percent) of the state thinks that public education is headed in the wrong direction. 

Asked to grade the quality of the public schools, 45 percent of respondents said they would give the schools a C. Only 4 percent would give them an A. 

“Based on the last two HPU Education Polls, North Carolina citizens do not believe that education in our state is going in the right direction but indicate a willingness to invest in preschool programs, increased teacher pay, more funding for schools and programs for students with disabilities, disadvantaged students, English language learners, and more funding for teacher assistants,” said Dr. Don Martin, HPU professor in educational leadership and former superintendent of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, in a press release. 

The percentage of people who think education is going in the wrong direction is down from 2014 (60 percent). 

The state is split on the new A-F school grades, which came out for the first time this year, with 46 percent saying schools should be given a grade and 48 percent saying they should not. The grades are based on a formula weighted in favor of academic achievement (80 percent) over academic growth (20 percent). Sixty-one percent of respondents said the grades should focus more on overall student improvement.

“By a 2-1 margin, citizens believe that letter grades for N.C. schools should place more emphasis on student improvement instead of proficiency,” Martin said. “Hopefully, the members of the N.C. General Assembly will study these results and respond.”

Eighty-five percent of respondents said teachers receive too little pay, and 74 percent said they would vote for a law that uses government money to make preschool available to every child in America who qualifies for free lunch.

The state is also split when it comes to school vouchers for low income students to attend private school. Fifteen percent said it will have a strong negative impact and 15 percent say it will have a strong positive impact. Twenty three percent said it would have a negative impact and 25 percent a positive one. 

“The jury is still out on voucher programs,” Martin said. 

See the details here

Alex Granados

Alex Granados is senior reporter for EducationNC.