WASHINGTON, D.C. -- With many state and local governments facing crisis-level budget cutbacks, Gallup finds 32% of parents saying their child's school is having financial difficulties and having to make major spending cuts, and 59% saying their child's school has been able to avoid making such cuts. Of those who see their child's school making major cuts, the vast majority believe the cuts will harm their child's education.
The results are from a Gallup poll conducted Aug. 5-8, 2010, just before President Obama on Aug. 10 signed a $26 billion stimulus package, which includes $10 billion to help public schools rehire teachers and take other steps to counter shrinking state budgets.
While one might assume that wealthier communities are faring best in this regard, parents with annual household incomes above $75,000 are no less likely than those with lower incomes to say their child's school is facing major cuts. Interestingly, however, there is a partisan divide among parents, with Republicans and those who lean Republican significantly more likely than Democrats or Democratic leaners to say their students' schools are avoiding spending cuts. While other demographic factors may be in play, Republicans' general aversion to federal government spending may also play a role in their responses.
Overall, the data provide a benchmark for where schools go from here. While school districts are likely grateful for any extra money they receive, The New York Times reported Wednesday that many administrators are hesitant to rehire laid-off teachers or make other long-term moves with what they perceive to be a short-term cash influx. Thus, it remains to be seen whether the new stimulus money results in measurable changes that parents notice -- both in the financial solvency of their schools and, most importantly, their own child's education.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Aug. 5-8, 2010, with a random sample of 218 parents with children in kindergarten through grade 12, aged 18 and older, living in the continental U.S., selected using random-digit-dial sampling.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±8 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones (for respondents with a landline telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell phone-only). Each sample includes a minimum quota of 150 cell phone-only respondents and 850 landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, education, region, and phone lines. Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2009 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in continental U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
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