New Alabama Poll Reveals Attitudes on Education

The Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama (PARCA) just released the results of its annual survey on Alabamians’ attitudes towards major political current events. Many of the survey questions were about issues in education, although the poll also asked questions about the budget, the economy, Jefferson County’s bankruptcy, and other concerns.

The poll results revealed overwhelming public opposition to the proposed merger of the state education budget with the general fund. The results also showed significant support for charter schools.

Satisfaction with Public Schools

The PARCA survey asked respondents whether they were satisfied or dissatisfied with public schools. The results varied greatly, depending on whether respondents were asked about schools statewide or their local school system.

Survey Results: When asked about their satisfaction level with public schools statewide;

39% were either “very satisfied” or “satisfied”
13% were neutral
40% were either “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied”
9% had no opinion

Survey Results: When asked about their satisfaction level with local public schools;

56% were either “very satisfied” or “satisfied”
8% were neutral
29% were either “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied”
6% had no opinion

Charter Schools

Charter schools are likely to be the biggest education issue of this legislative session. Republican lawmakers have announced that they plan to introduce legislation that would authorize public charter schools in low-performing districts across the state. A+ believes that charter schools could be a helpful tool in the toolkit to improve Alabama’s public education system. For more information on public charter schools, please check out this PowerPoint presentation.

Survey Results: When asked whether charter schools should be allowed in Alabama;

56% said yes
26% said no
18% had no opinion

Flexibility vs. Control

Lately, education policymakers have been debating what level of state control is appropriate for public schools. Many argue that a high level of state supervision is necessary to improve student performance. Others argue that schools should be granted the flexibility to try out new and innovative teaching strategies on their own. This year, Republican legislators plan to introduce the School Flexibility Act, which could allow some schools more flexibility in exchange for greater accountability and assessment.

Survey Results: When asked whether schools needed more state supervision or freedom to operate,

31% said more supervision
10% said the system was fine now
46% said more freedom
10% had no opinion

Other Issues

To read about other poll results, click here to read the newest edition of The PARCA Quarterly. PARCA is a nonprofit research association that aims to provide objective, nonpartisan information that leads to the improvement of state and local government in Alabama. For more information on PARCA, visit their website.