Results from the PACE/USC Rossier School of Education poll found that parents in California believe the quality of public schools has improved over the last year.
Fifty-eight percent of poll participants believe the California local public schools have gotten better or stayed they same, compared to only 44 percent last year. The upward trend of the improved opinion of California public schools contradicts the national opinion of public schools, which has not drastically changed since 2000.
"Compared to where we were in in the dark days of massive budget cuts and increased class sizes, voters have a much rosier view of the public schools in California," Ben Tulchin, president and founder of Tulchin Research said, referencing the $1 billion budget cut in 2012.
Morgan Polikoff, an associate professor at the USC Rossier School for Education, speculates the improved opinion of those polled results from more funding after Proposition 30 was passed. Proposition 30 increases public school taxes for those who earn over $250,000 a year. Polikoff also believes that California's decision not to evaluate teachers based on student test scores boosted the overall opinion in California, while nationally, the teacher evaluation system creates turmoil.
Polikoff commends the California public school system's efforts to improve, but thinks the public's perception of the system is skewed. "Schools are perceived as getting better because there's less information out there and the voters aren't seeing that students aren't doing so well," Polikoff said. "Because the results are not made public and haven't been made public for a few years, that could be driving voters to think that schools are getting better."
Despite California's lack of student and teacher performance transparency, 71 percent of those surveyed would encourage students to become educators. Of those who would not recommend the profession, 70 percent said the salary is a major setback.
"The majority of them say we should pay teachers more," said Julie Marsh, an associate professor at the USC Rossier School for Education. "What we can do is invest more in those improvement efforts, whether that's professional development, or other kinds of support and preparation programs that we can be investing in."
The poll, conducted by Tulchin Research and Moore Information, surveyed 1,202 registered voters in California with children under the age of 18. It was accessible online in both English and Spanish to accurately represent the state demographic.
PACE/USC Rossier holds the survey annually. Rossier professors say for the opinion of California public schools to improve even more next year, the system must demonstrate accountability, find more funding, and better compensate teachers.