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Survey: Coloradans want good teachers getting better pay, students ready for work

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(The Center Square) – Attracting and retaining high-quality teachers, increasing teacher pay and preparing students for the workforce are the top three areas Colorado public schools should be addressing, according to new polling.

Magellan Strategies surveyed 1,550 registered Colorado voters from Sept. 7 to 26 on a wide range of public education issues. The data was weighted to be representative of the state’s demographics.

Participants were asked to choose three challenges facing public schools in Colorado. “Attracting and retaining high-quality teachers” was the top choice with 49%. It was followed by “Increasing teacher pay to keep up with inflation, cost of living” with 48% and “preparing students for the workforce” at 44%. Almost one-in-four selected “another challenge not mentioned.”

“However, there are some differences of opinion among population subgroups,” the survey stated. “Among Democrat respondents, increasing teacher pay was overwhelmingly the top choice, followed by addressing student mental health. Among Republicans, preparing students for the workforce was their top choice, followed by attracting high-quality teachers, improving school building safety, and addressing learning loss caused by the COVID virus.”

Previous research projects conducted by Magellan Strategies found career and technical education classes are popular with parents of students and those who aren’t parents. However, the September survey found 56% of respondents said they were either “not familiar at all” (27%) or “not too familiar” (29%).

Survey respondents (64%) stated it’s important to earn an undergraduate degree from a four-year college or university.

“A strong majority of respondents who live in an urban area, 69%, and a suburban area, 65%, believe earning a four-year degree is important compared to 59% of respondents in a small-town area and 54% in a rural area,” the report said.

Half of respondents stated the belief their local school district doesn’t have the financial resources to provide students with a good education and 37% believe the opposite. The survey found 61% of respondents believe additional funding for public schools in the state would improve students’ education.

Subgroups with the strongest support for additional funding were voters age 18 to 44 (67%), Democrats (90%) and women (70%). The only voter subgroup with a substantial majority in disagreement was Republicans (63%). The survey found 67% of respondents in households with an income less than $75,000 believe additional funding will result in a better education.

The survey found 46% of respondents think school districts don’t manage financial resources efficiently and don’t spend taxpayer money wisely, compared to 32% who believed the opposite and 22% had no opinion. An April 2022 survey found 42% of respondents said their school district didn’t practice good financial stewardship with tax dollars.

Magellan Strategies said it conducted the research due to the interest in public education issues and policies among residents, voters, parents of students and non-parents. The company said the research provides its school district clients, teachers, and school officials with research for making policy decisions.

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