Delaware Poll Shows Desire for More Education Funding

(Photo: Pixabay, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Pixabay, Creative Commons)

A statewide poll in Delaware, conducted for the Vision Coalition of Delaware, found that residents want more money to be spent on education and desire another system for distributing funds among the state’s schools.

Saranac Hale Spencer, reporting for The News Journal, writes that the Delaware-based think tank, which consists of government officials and education leaders, issued a proposal last year that included intentions for the next decade of education in the First State.

Vision Coalition of Delaware followed up the plan with a poll to discover what Delawareans thought about public education in the state. Much of the information from the survey supported the Vision Coalition’s ten-year plan, such as funding for early childhood education, crafting curricula to satisfy individual students’ needs, funding weighted toward helping students from low-income families, and support for English language learners.

The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission recommended the implementation of this kind of weighted funding, but the General Assembly failed to pass this legislation.

“Those legislators are very much out of touch,” Pitts said, since their constituents favor a weighted funding formula, but they refused to pass one.

Ernest Dianastasis, chairman of the Vision Coalition, said in a prepared statement:

“Delawareans care deeply about their public schools, and they want their elected officials to care about these issues, too. This poll tells us that people want to see greater investments in time, energy and resources to our schools, teachers and kids.”

Four-hundred registered voters took part in the survey statewide, and 54% of participants thought that there was not enough money being invested in education in Delaware.

The state passed a $4 billion operating budget earlier this summer, approximately one-third of which is to be used for education. This amount puts Delaware on the high end of per-student spending in public education. A US Census Bureau report released in June announced that the state spent almost $14,000 per pupil. New York has the highest per-student spending at roughly $20,600. Utah has the lowest at $6,500.

One-quarter of the respondents gave Delaware’s education system a “D” or an “F.” Over half the subjects said the state is doing just a “fair” job in preparing children for college and careers, and for giving kids a fully-developed education with an ample quantity of support outside the classroom, reports Matt Bittle for the Delaware State News.

The poll also asked how the participants would confront a budget deficit, which, in fact, Delaware was facing in May. Seventy-four percent said legislators should increase taxes on people earning $250,000 or more annually to close the breach.

Of those who took the poll, 58% said schools that had decreasing enrollment should have their doors closed or be consolidated with others, 53% supported tax increases for businesses, and 52% were for a statewide property tax targeted for school funding. Laying off teachers and increasing the size of classes were supported by 13% of those polled.

The respondents from Wilmington and those who informed pollsters that were Republicans were more apt to communicate their dissatisfaction with the status of public education in Delaware.

GBA Strategies conducted the poll for the Vision Coalition and shared that Delawareans’ opinion of public education was mixed, reports Mark Arehart of Delaware Public Media.