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January 08, 2014

SURVEY: New Haven voters overwhelmingly support efforts to improve schools

“These survey results clearly show that as Mayor Harp takes office and becomes a voting member of the New Haven Board of Education, she and Superintendent Harries have public opinion on their side to continue and accelerate efforts to improve education for all kids regardless of their race, wealth, or zip code.” -- Jennifer Alexander, ConnCAN’s chief executive officer

New Haven, CT (January 8, 2014) – New Haven voters almost universally (96 percent) support continuing efforts to improve schools, according to a new citywide survey conducted by Global Strategy Group. The survey of 400 New Haven voters, conducted on December 10-12, 2013, was commissioned by the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN).

“For the first time in more than two decades, New Haven has a new mayor and superintendent of schools,” said Jennifer Alexander, ConnCAN’s chief executive officer. “These survey results show that as Mayor Harp takes office and becomes a voting member of the New Haven Board of Education, she and Superintendent Harries have public opinion on their side to continue and accelerate efforts to improve education for all kids regardless of their race, wealth, or zip code.”

Additional key findings from the survey include:

  • New Haven voters want to give students more opportunity by expanding early childhood education and making school funding fairer. Voters favor both expanding early childhood education (including universal pre-kindergarten), where participation has been shown to be an early predictor of success (68 percent say this is an “excellent” idea and 77 percent say it will do “a lot” to improve education), and ensuring that school funding is fairer so New Haven students receive the same amount of funding as students in wealthier school districts (57 percent “excellent” idea and 74 percent say it will do “a lot”).
  • New Haven voters believe that parents should have more options so they can find the right school where their children can thrive. Giving parents more access to public school options, including traditional public schools, magnet schools, and charter schools, is also seen as a crucial step for improving education (41 percent “excellent” idea/60 percent will do “a lot”). Voters are favorable towards charter schools (57 percent favorable/19 percent unfavorable) and a majority (54 percent) view charters as places that provide opportunity to receive a high-quality education. This positive outlook on charters is even more common among parents (64 percent provide opportunity/22 percent drain resources) and non-white voters (60 percent provide opportunity/26 percent drain resources).
  • New Haven voters believe that supporting and retaining the very best teachers is critical to ensuring students’ success. Voters think that great teachers can make a big difference in a child’s life and poor teachers can stifle a child’s ability to learn, with over two-thirds (67 percent) believing it is essential to continue improving education by both holding teachers accountable for their performance and developing those teachers who deliver for New Haven’s students.
  • New Haven voters fundamentally believe we must create a public education system that gives all students the opportunity to succeed. Three-quarters (75 percent) of voters believe that improving education is important because students in New Haven should have an equal opportunity to succeed and that success should not just be limited to those who can afford it.

“New Haven has taken important steps to improve public education over the past several years, including the implementation of a nationally recognized teacher and principal evaluation system,” said Alexander. “But even with progress being made, fewer than one in three third graders in New Haven are reading at grade level. That’s unacceptable. New Haven kids deserve better and New Haven voters agree that we need to keep moving forward with efforts to improve public education.”

About the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN)
The Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN) is an advocacy organization leading a movement to improve public education for kids. We bring parents, educators, policymakers, and advocates together to help ensure that all kids have access to great schools regardless of race, wealth, or zip code. To learn more about ConnCAN, visit: www.conncan.org.

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