Joe Gladow, DHM Research
Oregonians are not impressed with the job their public schools are doing. That’s what a DHM Panel survey conducted last month revealed when it asked 404 Oregon residents about their opinions of public schools in the state. Opinions are slightly more positive, however, about their own local school district than public schools statewide.
Asked about public schools statewide, just three in 10 (30%) Oregonians said they are doing a “very” good or “somewhat” good job, with only 4% saying they are doing a “very” good job. Conversely, four in 10 (41%) said they are doing a “somewhat” bad or “very” bad job. Two in 10 (23%) said they are doing a neutral job.
Ratings are slightly higher for local school districts. Four in 10 (41%) said their local public school district is doing a “very” good or “somewhat” good job, while three in 10 (32%) said they are doing a “very” bad or “somewhat” bad job. Two in 10 (21%) said they are doing a neutral job.
Performance Rating of Public School Districts:
However, Oregonians have a more negative view of their local district than they did two years ago. Asked if their opinion of their local public school district had become more positive, more negative, or stayed about the same from two years ago, one third (33%) of Oregonians said it became more negative, while half (49%) said it stayed about the same. Just 15% had a more positive opinion.
The reasons cited for this increased negativity varied, ranging from limited funding to overcrowded classrooms to poor management. The following quotes provide a taste of participants’ responses:
- “Funding is low, leading to large class sizes and inadequate support. Key aspects of schools are being cut or reduced, rather than expanded to focus on the needs of average students.”
- “Teachers are overworked and can’t take the time to focus on needs of the individual students. The school year is too short. Discipline problems are ignored and students trying to learn pay for that.”
- “As always and for the past few decades, the administrators of our schools have absolutely no clue on how to manage their budget. The results are fatter paychecks for them and superintendents, with teachers and students suffering the consequences.”
Compared to two years ago, younger Oregonians’ opinions have declined more so than older residents: Ages 54 and under were more likely than ages 55+ to have a more negative opinion of their local district from two years ago (41% vs. 18%).
- Ages 55+ were more likely than younger Oregonians to have the same opinion of their local district (69% vs. 38%).
Overall, Republicans believe that schools are doing a poorer job than Democrats: Republicans were more likely than Democrats and Independents to say that their local public school district is doing a “very” bad or “somewhat” bad job (Rep: 46%, Dem: 23%, Ind: 26%).
- Republicans and Independents were more likely than Democrats to say that Oregon’s public schools are doing a “very” bad or “somewhat” bad job (Rep: 56%, Ind: 47%, Dem: 23%).
The poll was conducted by DHM Research in June 2014. Survey demographics reflect the Oregon population as a whole. The margin of error was +/-4.9%.