About two-thirds of Virginians said public schools do not get enough funding to meet their needs, a finding that has remained unchanged from last year even as funding for schools has inched upward.
The Commonwealth Educational Policy Institute surveyed a representative sample of about 800 adults, conducting phone interviews to gauge their attitudes and impressions of the state’s public school system. The institute presented its findings to the state House and Senate education committees on Wednesday.
The poll focused on a wide variety of topics related to education, including whether schools are preparing young people for the workforce and whether schools are safe. The survey has been conducted annually for the past 18 years with the help of funding from the state.
Robyn McDougle, the institute’s interim director, said the poll provides important insights for policymakers into how the public school system is faring.
“We hope it helps guide their policy recommendations and the legislation they’re putting forward,” McDougle said.
The poll dug into respondents’ views of the public education system and its flaws, including how to improve it. About half of respondents said they would be willing to pay higher taxes to boost school funding. About two-thirds said they would be willing to pay extra taxes to increase funding to high-poverty, low-performing schools.
It also found that most Virginians do not think that high school graduates are prepared for the workforce. Sixty-two percent said high school graduates are not “ready for work,” while 60 percent said high school graduates are “ready for college.”
The state is also trying to change high school, state school officials say, with the aim of giving students more hands-on experience, as well as career and technical education opportunities. For example, students could earn workplace certifications.
One proposal would have students take academic coursework in their early high school years and focus on a career of their choice in their final years. A wide majority — 77 percent — of respondents endorsed the idea.
Del. R. Steven Landes (R-Augusta), the chair of the House education committee, said the finding validated the state’s effort to reorganize high school.
“It at least validates that from our standpoint, and it at least tells us we’re headed in the right direction,” Landes said.