Findings from a Statewide Survey of 750 Registered Voters in Arizona April 14-20, 2010
The Overview: Concern and Frustration <ul><li>Voters in Arizona make education a top tier concern when they think of the issues confronting the state. However, voters in Arizona have A LOT on their minds and both the economy and immigration compete with it as the top issue. </li></ul><ul><li>Voters are in an ornery mood in general and especially when it comes to the education system in Arizona. They are ready for change and improvements. </li></ul><ul><li>Their frustration really knows no limits in this current context. They want state leaders AND local leaders to step up, take more responsibility, and do a better job improving the education system. </li></ul><ul><li>There is a real paradox between voters’ attitudes toward voting and holding leaders accountable and the end result of continued frustration around education and state leadership on the issue. </li></ul>
Key Findings: Communication Targets <ul><li>Base Targets: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Women </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Parents </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Latinos </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Communication and Persuasion Targets: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Non-parents and particularly men. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Draw linkages to jobs, employment, and economic growth </li></ul></ul>
Key Findings: Communication Goals <ul><ul><li>Link the economy and the education system together . The economy cannot grow if the quality of education system does not improve. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Emphasize local links . Voters think their local schools are doing better, so we need to remind them that they need to prioritize the education system when they vote in order for that to remain true. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Push that everyone has a role in improving the education system . Voters need to prioritize the issue. Elected leaders need to keep their promises. The community needs to hold them to those promises. Most importantly, everyone has a role from voting to volunteering to talking to others – the system won’t improve unless everyone fulfills their role. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Boost voters’ sense of efficacy . Voters are frustrated. They believe they prioritize education when they vote but they don’t believe leaders are held accountable and this leads some to doubt whether they can make a difference. They need to be told they can and do make a difference, and the campaign can help them understand better ways to be more effective in those efforts. </li></ul></ul>
Arizonans’ Education Agenda Jobs and unemployment dominate the issue terrain. Still, education is a top tier concern and funding ranks as the top concern when it comes to improving Arizona’s education system, and voters are unhappy with the way thing are going in Arizona Schools.
Voters in Arizona are concerned about the state’s education system. Given a choice of words that included optimistic and pessimistic descriptions of the state’s education system, a plurality of voters chose “concerned.” In fact, barely one in ten choose a positive term, instead eight in ten choose a negative description of their attitude toward the state’s education system. This concern is broad and deep, it extends across demographic and geographic groups. This concern permeates every other attitude in this study. It is powerful and overriding. Optimistic Words: 13% Pessimistic Words: 81%
Voters rank education third behind the economy and immigration as the most important issue facing the state. Women are, as usual, the most likely to prioritize education, especially mothers, younger women, and college-educated women. To maintain a concentrated focus on education, linkages between the state’s schools and the economy must continue to be made. <ul><li>Most Likely to Say Education: </li></ul><ul><li>Mothers (62%) </li></ul><ul><li>Women under 50 (57%) </li></ul><ul><li>College educated women (56%) </li></ul><ul><li>Democrats (52%) </li></ul><ul><li>Parents of kids under 12 (52%) </li></ul><ul><li>Parents of kids in public school (49%) </li></ul><ul><li>Under 40 (48%) </li></ul><ul><li>Pima County (48%) </li></ul><ul><li>Tucson media market (48%) </li></ul><ul><li>Special election voters (47%) </li></ul><ul><li>Independent/swing women (47%) </li></ul><ul><li>Latinos (47%) </li></ul><ul><li>Women (46%) </li></ul><ul><li>Phoenix women (44%) </li></ul><ul><li>Maricopa Co. under 50 (42%) </li></ul>
Voters are critical of the performance of Arizona’s education system, with 70% rating the system as fair or poor, and only a quarter rating the system as excellent or good. It is typical for voters to hold more positive views toward education in their local community, but even then their attitudes are more critical than encouraging. Darker colors=intensity
Driving this sense of concern with the education system is the belief that education in Arizona has declined in the last five years, rather than improved or stay the same. Typically, from research on this question in other states and nationally, voters who want to express frustration tend to say the education system has “stayed the same”, but in Arizona, voters’ concern has tipped a plurality to feel the system is in decline. Over the last five years, do you think education in Arizona has improved, declined, or stayed about the same? Darker colors=intensity
Voters spread the blame for their frustration with the education system pretty broadly, focusing not just on leaders in the state capitol but also on their own locally elected leaders. Darker colors=intensity
Consequences of a Declining Education System Voters understand the connection between education and economic success, both on a personal level and for the state as a whole. They believe Arizona is losing out on talented people and opportunities by not addressing the problems with their education system.
Their concerns with the education system in Arizona run so deeply and exist so broadly because voters feel that education and the state’s economic future are so closely tied together. Across the board, 90% of voters believe improving the economy means improving the state’s education system. If the education system does not improve (and they feel it is in decline) than the economy and job situation will not improve. In short, they feel the future of their state is at stake. Agree Darker colors=intensity Remember, 43% say the economy and unemployment is the most important issue facing Arizona (multiple choice). Questions asked of half the sample. Voters want to improve both K-12 and higher education, but they still prioritize K-12.
Voters are dubious that Arizona is a good place for recent college graduates to start a career. This is clearly a concern when it comes to developing and keeping a well-qualified workforce pipeline that can attract relocating companies. Darker colors=intensity Agree Questions asked of half the sample.
Taking Action and Improving Education Voters believe that everyone has a responsibility to help improve education, and funding is the greatest problem that needs to be addressed.
When voters are presented with a list of priorities, the level of state funding remains a top concern, but teacher quality and parental involvement compete for much needed attention. 34% of voters offer – as top of mind - lack of funding and the state budget as the greatest priority. More than double the 16% who mentioned teacher quality.
Voters spread the responsibility for fixing Arizona’s schools across a number of groups, but the top tier of those they hold responsible includes teachers, parents, and decision makers in the Superintendent’s office, the Department of Education, and the state legislature. Still, voters believe no one can get away with saying they lack a measure of responsibility to improving the system. Darker colors=intensity Questions asked of half the sample.
Voting on Education Voters say they do or are willing to vote on education, but they do not believe that elected officials are currently being held accountable on this issue.
There is a clear dichotomy when it comes to voting education. On the one hand, voters say they are willing to use their vote as a way to hold elected officials accountable on education. Yet they continue to express frustration at the work those elected officials are doing to improve the system. Darker colors=intensity Questions asked of half the sample.
Most voters say that education is a very important voting issue, but there is little intensity behind this as only one-in-five say it is ONE OF the most important issues. Voters tend to take action on what they feel intensely about, and only one in five feel that way about voting education. Darker colors=intensity
Despite their sense that they are personally willing to use education in their vote criterion and to hold officials accountable, an overwhelming majority of voters agree that elected officials are not held accountable on education. When it comes to improving education either voters haven’t done what they say they have done (prioritize and vote education) or they don’t believe their actions are working to change the system. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Are Elected Officials Held Accountable on Education? Darker colors=intensity Held accountable does not rise about 27% for any demographic group.
Joshua Ulibarri [email_address] Bob Carpenter firstname.lastname@example.org Celinda Lake [email_address]