A majority of New Jersey voters oppose Gov. Chris Christie’s hefty state aid cuts and his plan to link teacher pay to student test scores, according to a Rutgers-Eagleton poll released today.
Fifty-nine percent of registered voters said the state is underfunding education and 63 percent oppose merit pay, one of the key education reform proposals Christie unveiled at a town hall meeting in late September.
A large majority — 70 percent — of those surveyed do, however, support the governor’s intentions to overhaul teacher tenure, responding that tenure impedes the removal of bad teachers.
“New Jerseyans generally support their schools and want to see them better funded, even while they want the state to cut back on funding in other areas,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and a Rutgers University political science professor. “While they question tenure, they do not necessarily support the governor’s plans or his spending cuts.”
The governor’s office could not be reached for comment on the poll.
In March, Christie announced he would cut $820 million from this year’s budget for education. Instead of distributing the cut as a percentage of district’s state aid, Christie aligned his cut to a district’s overall operating budget, a decision that left some wealthy, suburban districts with no education funding from Trenton.
When asked to describe the state’s most pressing education woes in their own words, 20 percent of respondents pointed to budget issues, while 15 percent cited teacher-related issues. Only 8 percent of those surveyed said the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, is the state’s most important problem, in spite of the governor’s oft-stated belief that the union is a major roadblock to true education reform.
The poll’s results come from a sampling of 885 registered voters interviewed statewide between Oct. 21 and Oct. 27.
About the Author: