UD survey finds Delawareans rate state's schools favorably
A new statewide poll focuses on school quality, finance, policy and Vision 2015.
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12:59 p.m., June 3, 2009----The Delaware Education Research and Development Center (DERDC) has released the results of its 2009 Statewide Public Poll on Education in Delaware. The poll is conducted annually to provide feedback on public opinion about the status of education in Delaware.

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This year's poll focused specifically on school quality, school finance, education policy and Vision 2015, a statewide effort to provide the best education for each student in Delaware by the year 2015. A report summarizing the results is available in PDF format on the DERDC Web site.

According to Joan Buttram, an educational researcher with DERDC, Delaware residents generally gave their schools higher grades than national ratings.

“In particular, Delaware parents described their children's schools as more welcoming and caring and having a greater sense of community than parents in nationwide surveys,” Buttram said.

The poll also found that Delawareans are attuned to the current economic climate and its potential impact on education, as 80 percent of those polled were at least somewhat concerned that the state's budget gap will cause significant spending cuts in K-12 public education.

“When we asked residents where education funds should be protected and where cuts should be made if needed, the respondents indicated that they were most interested in preserving funds for teacher salaries, for classroom instructional materials and resources, and for tutoring for low-performing students,” Buttram said.

The poll also sought Delawareans' opinions on a number of policy issues facing the state, including whether or not the number of charter schools should be limited in Delaware and whether low-interest loans should be made available to charter schools for real estate purchases and construction costs. On both questions, 59 percent responded in support of charter schools.

“In light of current budget issues facing the state, we hope that this survey provides some solid data on which legislators and policy makers can base their decisions,” said Buttram. “We can feel good knowing that Delawareans appreciate the job that the state's educators are doing, but we need to proceed carefully to protect the quality of our schools.”

The survey was conducted with the assistance of the Center for Applied Demography and Survey Research (CADSR).

Both DERDC and CADSR are research and service centers housed in the College of Education and Public Policy.

To request a printed version of the report, contact Joan Buttram at [jbuttram@udel.edu].

Article by Beth Chajes
Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson