HARRISBURG, Pa. – Pennsylvanians from both sides of the political aisle support full funding of public education, according to a new poll.
The poll, conducted for the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center by the polling firm TargetSmart, found that almost six in ten respondents favor making full funding of K-through-12 public education a top legislative priority.
According to Ben Lazarus, director of research and analytics at TargetSmart, that includes 76 percent of liberal Democrats.
“The numbers remain well above majority when we look at independents, moderate Republicans and even conservative Republicans, 57 percent of whom want the state Legislature to prioritize improving the public schools,” says Lazarus.
The poll found that 56 percent of all respondents feel the state invests too little money in public education, compared with just 12 percent who think the state spends too much.
Mark DiRocco, head of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, says the poll results show a growing public awareness that even with recent increases, state public school subsidies are not keeping up with growing costs.
“Consequently you have several school districts around the state who continue not to replace personnel when they resign or when they retire, continue to cut back on programs for kids that are much needed, whether they be reading programs or math programs” says DiRocco.
He adds that one-third of districts responding to an annual survey report they have cut staff, programs or both for the last seven years in a row.
Rich Askey, vice president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, points out that Governor Tom Wolf and the state Legislature have restored much of the billion dollars cut from education funding eight years ago.
“Our next priority is to keep increasing funding for our public schools so that they can start investing in new programs, new resources, and we can add new technologies,” says Akey. “We just need to keep it up.”
The education-funding poll is part of a campaign called “We the People” that the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center and other organizations will be launching later this month.