Poll shows strong community support for education improvement efforts

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

A new poll released last month by the independent nonprofit Jacksonville Public Education Fund (JPEF) indicates that citizens in Duval County are broadly supportive of current and potential efforts to improve public education.

“Perception matters in public education,” said Trey Csar, president of JPEF at the press conference on Dec. 13. “What the customers think, what the community thinks, matters.”
The poll, administered by the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Laboratory, questioned more than 500 local residents about their perceptions of the public school system.

John Anderson, JPEF board member, and Trey Csar, president

John Anderson, JPEF board member, and Trey Csar, president

“We saw at a very, very high level broad consensus about the current activities in the public school system,” said Csar. “Significant majorities of the community favor a lot of the individual programs that the district is considering as well as favor increases in both school funding and in technology usage and we see broad support for continued district and community collaboration around the priorities identified in the ONE by ONE Community Agreement and the district’s strategic plan.”

Csar noted that test scores and school grades still play a significantly stronger role in how parents choose and perceive schools, even more so over word of mouth. “A lot of the public accountability measures are used by parents to assess the quality of public schools.”

Two-thirds of respondents said they would support a small increase in property taxes to go to public education. That may be necessary to help fund what 64 percent said was important: that every student has a laptop or tablet to use in their classes.

The poll reflects opinions around the growing need for education beyond high school to ensure that today’s students are prepared for the 21st century. More than three-quarters of respondents said that students need postsecondary education to be successful.

According to board member John Anderson, “As a citizen and a product myself of public school, I’m so excited about this effort because of the emerging sense of ownership, from the grassroots up. That sense of empowerment will, at the lowest levels all the way up, energize this great engine as we go.”
Details about the poll can be found at www.schoolfactsjax.org.

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