Survey finds 55% of Colorado parents say public education ‘off the track’

More than 60% of respondents had favorable opinions of charter schools when told they are tuition-free public schools open to all children.
Parents and child walking to school

(The Center Square) – More than half of Colorado parents believe public education is “off on the wrong track” and favor measures to improve funding and support for charter schools, according to research conducted by Cygnal for a school advocacy group.

The text message and telephone survey of 540 Coloradans was conducted in late January. Approximately 98% stated they would probably or definitely vote in the November 2023 general election for city council, local school board and statewide ballot measures. The advocacy group Ready Colorado describes itself as a conservative organization “dedicated to ensuring that every kid in Colorado receives the education they deserve.” Parent choice, a focus on students and families over school systems, accountability and transparency are listed as its core principles.

In response to the question, “Generally speaking, would you say things in Colorado public education are headed in the right direction or off the track?” 30.6% responded in the “right direction,” 46.9% responded “wrong track,” and 22.5% were unsure. However, 55% of parents, 61% of men between the ages of 50 and 64, and 71% of Republicans responded “wrong track.” The highest percentages responding “right direction” were females between the ages of 35 and 49 (41%), females aged 65 and over (36%), and Democrats (47%).

More than 60% of respondents had favorable opinions of charter schools when told they are tuition-free public schools open to all children, have more flexibility for curriculum and hiring teachers and more accountability for student performance. Slightly more than 20% had unfavorable opinions and 14% were neutral.

Creation of educational savings accounts for special needs students and their families was favored by 67% of survey participants.

Slightly more than 68% of respondents supported a constitutional amendment to guarantee every child the right to school choice, while 17% opposed it. More than 74% favored new investments in high-quality instructional materials and professional development to improve math outcomes and expand after-school science, technology, engineering and math programs; 5% opposed and 20% had no opinion or needed more information.

When told public charter schools in Colorado receive approximately 25% less funding per student than public schools, 65% supported an effort to require equal funding while 15% opposed it and 11% didn’t support or oppose.

Respondents were asked about public education funding levels and told Colorado public schools receive about $15,000 per student. Slightly more than 50% said public schools were underfunded, 21% said funding was about right and 12% said they were overfunded.

When asked about how to increase K-12 funding, 78.3% responded it would be better to prioritize state spending and 13% said to raise taxes. When told the average annual teacher’s salary in Colorado was $58,000, 65.6% said it was too low, 27.6% said it was about right and 2.2% said it was too high.

Respondents were given a choice to select any type of K-12 school for the best education for a child or grandchild. Approximately 35% said public school, 16% said public charter school, 16% said private religious school, 15% said private non-religious school and 9% said home school or virtual school.

Approximately 72% support annual student assessments in reading, writing and math; 18% oppose standardized testing.

Joe Mueller
Joe Mueller covers Missouri for The Center Square. After seven years of reporting for daily newspapers in Illinois and Missouri, he spent the next 30 years in public relations serving non-profit organizations and as a strategic communications consultant.

Don't Miss Out!

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of the latest education news and commentary everyone ought to know about.