In a charged policy environment, talking about education can be challenging. As discussions about schooling become more prevalent in political campaigns and journalism, factual information can seem more elusive. It’s essential for decision-making about policy to be informed by both research and public opinion.
In early 2014, the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy conducted a public opinion poll—with support from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation—to gain information about views of public education and support for different learning approaches in New England. The poll was administered to a representative sample of residents in the six New England states, including 380 Massachusetts residents, and aligns with a poll conducted by the Rennie Center in 2012. The data in the infographic and below represents selected findings from Massachusetts.
Public education has long been at the forefront of debates on economic growth and long-term national and state prosperity. Strong public—albeit polarized—support continues to view public education as an essential way forward in Massachusetts.
However, there is a growing divide over the how best to build an effective education system.
Massachusetts residents still express the greatest confidence in teachers, parents, and local leaders to improve public education, but public opinion may be shifting.
In more recent years, there has been discussion about shifting definitions of schooling to include non-traditional education models and settings.
Massachusetts residents support communication and critical thinking skills over other skills.
About the Rennie Center's poll of New England states
This poll was conducted with the generous support of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation. The phone poll required 12 minutes, on average. Ninety percent of the respondents completed the survey via landline; ten percent of the respondents completed the survey via cell phone. Cooperation (participation) rates for landline respondents were 98%, and 49% for cell phone respondents. Cell phone respondents were screened so that only those that use a cell phone were included. Statistical comparison between 2012 and 2014 poll results is not available; change from 2012 represents practical change in overall results.