Quality Teachers Top Education Priority for Utah Voters

Many Voters Would Pay Higher Taxes to Increase Education Funding

Some 40% of voters in the 2016 Utah Priorities Project survey named teacher quality as their top priority with regard to K-12 education. This beat out “college and career readiness,” “class size,” and “test scores.”

A research brief published today by Utah Foundation also shows more than two-thirds of voters (68%) ranked education at 4 or 5 on a five-point scale in their level of concern. This put it at #3 on the Utah Priorities Project top ten list. This is fairly consistent with previous years. A listing of the top ten issues is available on the Utah Foundation website at http://www.utahfoundation.org/priorities-project-2016/.

41% of the voter sample said they would pay higher taxes to support public education, while 32% disagreed. “Voters’ high level of concern about education is somewhat aligned with their willingness to increase taxes for education,” said Shawn Teigen, Research Director at Utah Foundation. “While not a majority, it is interesting to see that more voters would agree than disagree with paying higher taxes that are directed toward education. Based upon other survey questions, you could say that voters want some of this funding to be used toward increasing teacher quality.”

The survey also showed most Utah voters disapprove of the Common Core standards adopted by Utah’s State Board of Education. 55% of voters expressed disapproval compared to 21% who felt they were helping schools improve. Political party affiliation and ideology played a large role in support for Common Core, with Republicans and conservatives strongly opposed, while liberal and Democratic voters tended to support the standards.

The Utah Foundation Board of Trustees recently adopted a position statement saying current funding for schools is inadequate to overcome current challenges. This position finds broad agreement among many Utah political leaders and other stakeholders in the community and the education system.

About the Utah Priorities Project: Utah Foundation has conducted the Utah Priorities Project in every year with an election for governor since 2004. After identifying the top ten issues of concern to voters, it has published reports and issue briefs on each of the concerns through the election season. The 2016 Utah Priorities Project is supported by donors including Union Pacific Railroad, Zions Bank, the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation and the Larry H. and Gail Miller Family Foundation.

About Utah Foundation: Utah Foundation is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy research group founded in 1945. Its mission is to promote a thriving economy, a well-prepared workforce, and a high quality of life for Utahns by performing thorough, well-supported research that helps policy makers, business and community leaders, and citizens better understand complex issues and providing practical, well-reasoned recommendations for policy change. For more information visit www.utahfoundation.org