A new poll shows that Virginians generally are satisfied with their public school systems but would support higher taxes to make them better, according to two officials of George Mason University in Fairfax County who conducted the poll.
"I'm not here to endorse a tax increase . . . but the state does need to spend more" on education, said J. Wade Crilly, a former secretary of education in Virginia and senior vice president of George Mason.
The survey of 618 randomly selected registered voters in December showed that 56 percent of the respondents gave the school system an A or B rating, compared with a national Gallup survey in May showing that only 34 percent of respondents approved of their schools.
"There is a significant difference from what Virginians think of their schools," Crilly said about the national results. He said the Virginia survey was not broken down into regions of the state but reflected only an overall rating for the state.
Asked whether they would support a tax increase to improve the schools, 63 percent said yes, 32 percent said no and 5 percent had no opinion. Of those who had children in public schools, 69 percent supported the idea of a tax increase.
Several organizations, including the Virginia Education Association and local government groups, have supported an increase in the state sales tax from 4 cents on the dollar to 5 cents to support new education initiatives. The proposal, despite strong support from some influential legislators, is given little chance of passage in the upcoming legislative session.
On other issues, the state survey showed that 72 percent believed elementary school students are not made to work hard enough and are not given enough homework.