Educational Editorial: Commonwealth Education Poll

By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - CEPI at VCU has released the 10th Annual Commonwealth Education Poll and the statewide responses offer an interesting reaction to key educational policy issues; some signature initiatives in Gov.-Elect Bob McDonnell's agenda.

The first is Charter Schools. Most Virginians say that they don't know anything about charter schools, but when they are defined, 56 percent, or two to one, give them their support.

To give additional independence to these schools, some think that the Constitution needs to be changed: Democrats, Republicans, and Independents agree that do not like fooling with the Virginia Constitution.

While the poll did not ask a direct question about "pay-for-performance," it did address one of its potential components, student test scores.

Virginians seemed to think that teachers should not be paid more for higher student test results; however, when asked if using student test scores in determining teacher pay would help to retain the best in the classroom, the majority said yes.

Perhaps Virginians actually support a "merit" mechanism but don't want to see test scores as the sole determinant. This interpretation may be founded in part on their response to tenure: they oppose it. Even in a household where a family member works for schools, the responses are evenly divided.

The assumption shared earlier that Virginia is more politically magenta than red or blue was clearly obvious in the minimal partisan distinction on most major issues.

If the "people" were asked to make policy, apparently there would be more room for agreement.

(c) 2009. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.